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Re: A Rough Guide to Notation3

From: Paul Prescod <paul@prescod.net>
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2002 11:18:13 -0700
Message-ID: <3D6BC265.1C59DF23@prescod.net>
To: Danny Ayers <danny666@virgilio.it>, www-rdf-interest@w3.org

Danny Ayers wrote:
> 
> Before responding to your points, a question occurred to me that pretty much
> encompasses my opinion re. N3 - would the RDF spec suite be easier to
> understand if the diagrams were replaced with N3?

No, diagrams are good for visualizing and documenting. Text is better
for exchanging and discussing. They are not in competition.

>...
> But N3 as it stands is another low-level view of the RDF model like XML/RDF,

I don't see anything "low-level" about N3 so I guess our viewpoints are
too far apart to be readily reconcileable.

>...
> A very good question, and history & practicalities figure highly - there are
> a lot of good and well-established tools and techniques for exchanging and
> processing XML, which happens to be text. So XML/RDF is imho well justified.
> I suspect that if the developers of RDF and N3 had spent less time working
> in text-based environments (Unix etc) and more time in graphical
> environments (Squeak?) then the situation would be somewhat different. I
> don't think it's a coincidence that the first graphic tool of note
> (RDFAuthor) was built for the Mac.

Sure, RDF could be defined in terms of graphs and be as popular as
graphical programming languages. ;)

> >Somebody has to read the raw data because somebody has to write the
> >tools that present the metadata to us in pleasant forms. Once again I'll
> >ask, if we don't care about these people then why use text?
> 
> This may be justification for having a text representation of RDF, but are
> more than one really necessary?

Arguably the XML representation is a good interchange format for systems
where it would take too much effort to write an N3 parser. If N3 were
ever as ubiquitous as XML then the XML representation would be less
useful.

> Of course it's possible to avoid N3 altogether, but my original point was
> that the newcomer to RDF would first encounter RDF/XML (a syntax that is
> bound to be misleading because of the XML's tree base) and then N3, a
> semi-formalised syntax that bears little relation to anything familiar. 

If it is gratuitously different then I agree that's a problem. But my
understanding is that there is no widespread language that already does
what N3 does. If you have a proposal for a "high level" notation for RDF
then maybe I'd have something to compare with and I might agree that N3
is "low-level" in comparison.

> ... Yes,
> there's ntriples, but this is an even lower view of the information. The
> graphic view used in the specs is tied to the model in a reasonably formal
> fashion, and I think this could be extended profitably.

Programers do not tend to like graphical editors. Depending on graphics
as the "lingua franca" for RDF would be a big mistake.

-- 
 Paul Prescod
Received on Tuesday, 27 August 2002 14:21:10 GMT

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