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Re: Making RDF / LinkedData trivially browseable - thoughts?

From: Kjetil Kjernsmo <kjetil@kjernsmo.net>
Date: Fri, 03 Apr 2009 23:38:36 +0200
To: public-lod@w3.org
Cc: Daniel O'Connor <daniel.oconnor@gmail.com>
Message-id: <200904032338.40140.kjetil@kjernsmo.net>
On Wednesday 25 March 2009, Daniel O'Connor wrote:
> Hey all,

Hey Daniel!

I'm a bit embarrassed that your questions have gone unanswered, as I 
think they are very relevant and important. 

> So, here's the scenario. I'm a regular web developer guy and I've
> heard about linked data. I know just enough about webservices and
> rest and xml and that sort of thing, and I'm sold on the big picture
> of the semantic web; and I've now just come across linked data.

Cool! Welcome! I think we really need people like you coming on board!

> Q: What's available to help me know "when I'm doing it right"; and
> what's available to make it feel like there's an immediate payoff?

So, these are very good, but quite difficult questions to answer right 
now, but I think they are important questions to answer. I kicked off 
the Community Projects within the Semantic Web Education and Outreach 
interest group, which lead to the LOD back in the day, partly because I 
felt that questions like these too often went unanswered. Now, we have 
tons of data and relatively well established best practices, but I 
still feel that the community needs to come together and answer these 
questions, and to be a bit provocative, I suspect that the reason your 
email has gone unanswered is that we aren't there yet. So, folks, 
answer the questions! :-)

> So far, the simplest answer I have to that question is "whack a
> simple xsl ontop of it so the RDF gets rendered as
> not-very-pretty-but-hey-i-can-click-links html".
> Criteria for success: I can click from one half of my data set to the
> other, then end up at dbpedia, and then click off to somewhere else;
> and it feels like a unpretty normal web.
> So, to that end, I've whipped up this really quick and dirty
> stylesheet to basically do that. See
> http://pastebin.com/pastebin.php?dl=f289d4f5c
> Preview it by sticking this into your xml (and obviously host your
> own decent copy if you are using it in The Real World)
> <?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl"
> href="http://pastebin.com/pastebin.php?dl=f289d4f5c" ?>
> What do you guys think of this approach?

I'm actually not quite sure exactly what you're trying to achieve. There 
are a bunch of generic data browsers, Tabulator, OpenLink Data Explorer 
(FF extensions), Disco Hyperdata Browser, etc. So, it seems to me those 
could be used for browsing data.

I've been writing huge amounts of XSLT for my apps (basically doing XSLT 
on a constrained RDF/XML tree), and it gets really, really ugly pretty 
quick. So, I'd discourage people from going down that path. In fact, it 
seems like we need to abandon the entire XML toolchain for most of the 
stuff we do (well, eventually, you could use some HTML, where it has 
relevance, but other than that, throw it out). 

So, there has been quite some talk about what to do, where Fresnel 
http://www.w3.org/2005/04/fresnel-info/ may be the thing that has the 
most traction. I think it looks like a massive overkill for most 
regular web developers, and for my purpose too, so I started to think 
about a RDFa templating language: 
I haven't gotten any further on it, and it needs more thinking. And 
since I'm more of an RDF geek than an X?(HT)?ML geek, it probably could 
use some thinking from a regular web developer too :-)

Another thing I'd like to do is use SPARQL DESCRIBE queries to just 
generate the data and the labels and stuff you'd need to present stuff 
to a human user, and I put some of those ideas down here:
That also needs a bit more thinking, and the standards aren't even 
there, so there is still work to do here. :-)


Kjetil Kjernsmo
Programmer / Astrophysicist / Ski-orienteer / Orienteer / Mountaineer
Homepage: http://www.kjetil.kjernsmo.net/     OpenPGP KeyID: 6A6A0BBC
Received on Friday, 3 April 2009 21:39:17 UTC

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