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Re: RDF Editing software

From: Emmanuel Pietriga <epietriga@yahoo.fr>
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 11:31:19 +0100
Message-ID: <400FA677.8050106@yahoo.fr>
To: www-rdf-interest@w3.org

I don't think visual editing tools (IsaViz, RDFAuthor, etc.) should be
considered as primary means of editing RDF models, and I think it would
be nice to have new solutions to do that, better than plain old text
editors as you say. I'm not sure however that it is easy to develop 
something for the general case (maybe vocabulary/domain specific 
editors? but this would prevent the use of arbitrary vocabularies in a 
model)

Anyway, the point I wanted to make here is that visual editors are not
completely useless in my opinion.

1) They make explicit the graph structure of RDF models by actually
representing the relations that exist between resources. This is not the
case of textual representations, which require the user to maintain a
mental "map" of these relations. They can therefore be considered as
more intuitive. Now it is true that these graphical representations also
have drawbacks. Two of the most significant are:
  - their "viscosity" (difficulty associated with editing operations). 
This is a hard to solve problem, and very little progress as been made 
in current editors as your scenario demonstrates. But one could say that 
textual representations of an RDF model are difficult to edit too. Take 
RDF/XML or N-Triples: suppose you want to remove all statements that 
involve a specific resource (as subject or object). You will probably 
have to delete text in several places, using a search. Using a visual 
editor (say IsaViz), you just have to find this resource once, select it 
and delete it.
  - their tendency to use a lot of screen real-estate. This one can be 
partially addressed by providing a zoomable user interface, overviews 
and navigation shortcuts.

2) They can be used to quickly obtain a graphic representation of a 
model. This representation can furthermore be customized using 
stylesheets (e.g. GSS [1]): information filtering, use of graphical 
attributes like color, shape, font to quickly convey 
resource/literal/property attributes which make the model easier to 
understand.

[1] http://www.w3.org/2001/11/IsaViz/gss/gssmanual.html

3) They offer a way to check that you correctly specified what you 
wanted to model.

4) People who are new to RDF can quickly create small models and see 
what their RDF/XML, N3, N-Triple representations look like. Besides, 
visual tools do not let you create invalid models and warn you of 
mistakes early during the specification phase (at least to some extent).

So, as I said in the beginning, visual editors might not be the best 
general solution to edit RDF models. But they are not to be thrown away, 
as they offer some significant advantages with respect to textual 
representations, mainly when one needs to understand/explore a model. On 
this basis, having editing capabilities does not hurt as it makes it 
possible to quickly change a model without having to go back and forth 
between visual and textual representations.

Emmanuel



David P. Kleinschmidt wrote:

> 
>> Until now I have been writing my RDF/XML in a plain text editor. Is
>> there special software to create RDF/XML files? So that you, by
>> example, can import some RDF Schemas and then just fill in the values
>> you want?
>> I tried IsaViz but I find it a rather difficult program...
> 
> 
> I have a related question ... is there special software to create 
> RDF/XML files that doesn't subscribe to the bubbles-arrows-and-boxes 
> philosophy?  Personally, I find that it's much easier to write
> 
> :007 a foaf:Person;
>     foaf:surname "Bond";
>     foaf:name "James Bond".
> 
> and run it through an n3 converter than it is to, say:
> 
> double-right-click the window to create a new resource bubble
> double click the resource bubble to assign a URI to the resource
> type "007"
> double-control-click the window to create a new literal box
> double-click the literal box to assign a value to the literal
> type "Bond"
> right-drag from the literal bubble to the literal to create a relation 
> arrow
> double-click the relation arrow to assign a predicate to the relation
> type "foaf:surname"
> double-control-click the window to create a new literal box
> double-click the literal box to assign a value to the literal
> type "James Bond"
> right-drag from the literal bubble to the literal to create a relation 
> arrow
> double-click the relation arrow to assign a predicate to the relation
> type "foaf:name"
> 
> Does anybody see what I'm getting at?  Not only that, but once you get 
> more than a handful of resources, the window starts to get cluttered, 
> hard to edit in, and hard to navigate.  On the one hand, I find the 
> 'intuitive' graphical user interface to be frustrating and clunky.  On 
> the other hand, I feel that there must be a better fit for editing RDF 
> than a plain old text editor.
> 
> 
> - Dave
> 


-- 
Emmanuel Pietriga (epietriga@nuxeo.com)
tel (mobile): +33 6 88 51 94 98
http://claribole.net
Received on Thursday, 22 January 2004 05:29:40 GMT

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