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Re: Is promoting RDF+XML a lost cause?

From: Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 2004 09:13:39 +0100
Message-ID: <41A6E5B3.9020601@w3.org>
To: Paul Gearon <pag@tucanatech.com>
Cc: www-rdf-interest@w3.org
When I make courses on RDF and RDF/XML, I *always* use the graph paradigm in the 
forefront. Ie, if there is a new concept (eg, some OWL stuff), I always put up a graph 
*first* and that is what I use to explain. Then, almost casually, I also show an excerpt 
of RDF/XML saying 'if you want to serialize, this is the way it looks'. I have received 
quite a lot of positive feedback from people that pushing the graph, and its visual 
representation, worked well for them. Once people grasp it than RDF/XML becomes just a 
serialization method. Not pretty, there might be others coming up in the future, but it is 
nothing else than syntactic sugar. (Well... sugar might not be the best word here, maybe 
'syntactic salt' is a better term?;-)

Ivan

Paul Gearon wrote:
> 
> 
> On 24/11/2004, at 3:14 AM, Phil Dawes wrote:
> 
>> Unfortunately people don't see triples (or a graph) when looking at
>> RDF/XML - they see a tree, with additional nasty RDF syntax.
> 
> 
> This has been my biggest problem with RDF/XML.  Being tree-based, XML 
> would not appear to be suited to serializing a graph.
> 
> I learnt about RDF via "triples", which seems to be a more graph based 
> approach.  When I then saw RDF/XML it did not appear particularly 
> elegant, though it did provide a complete encoding, and I could follow 
> it easily enough (though I still make mistakes writing in it).
> 
> Speaking to people who are learning RDF via RDF/XML, they seem 
> perpetually confused about the graph structure, and often hadn't even 
> picked up on the whole "Subject-Predicate-Object" paradigm.  The 
> consistency of these problems leads me to think that RDF/XML is a very 
> poor way to learn RDF.
> 
> As others have pointed out, those who approach RDF from XML tend to want 
> to use XPath, XQuery and so forth.  The problem with this is that these 
> tools are appropriate for processing the tree-based structure of XML, 
> and hence they do not deal well with the graph structure of RDF.
> 
> The problems all seem to stem from XML programmers thinking that RDF/XML 
> is a new type of XML.  My perspective is that RDF is a new type of data 
> structure, and RDF/XML is just an obtuse and efficient way of 
> serializing it.
> 
> So I think that telling XML programmers that they should write their XML 
> to be RDF/XML compliant is just wrong.  If it is appropriate for them to 
> use RDF (sometimes raw XML is much better) then they should build their 
> model as a graph, and only when they need to serialize should it be 
> converted to RDF/XML.
> 
> Regards,
> Paul Gearon
> 
> Software Engineer
> Tucana Technologies
> http://www.tucanatech.com
> 
> 
> 

-- 

Ivan Herman
W3C Communications Team, Head of Offices
C/o W3C Benelux Office at CWI, Kruislaan 413
1098SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
tel: +31-20-5924163; mobile: +31-641044153;
URL: http://www.w3.org/People/all?pictures=yes#ivan

Received on Friday, 26 November 2004 08:13:27 UTC

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