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Data-driven Applications (was Re: "humane" query editors for the data web?)

From: Mike Bergman <mike@mkbergman.com>
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2009 09:52:19 -0500
Message-ID: <49F080A3.2080706@mkbergman.com>
To: David Huynh <dfhuynh@alum.mit.edu>, public-lod@w3.org
Hi David,

David Huynh wrote:
> Hi Mike,
> Well put! It's an accurate account of what's going on. As I explicitly 
> said in my original post, this was more or less a tease and shameless 
> self-promotion :-), but hopefully beneficial, as there are, in my 
> opinion, some interesting ideas from this query editor that can be 
> adopted / adapted. In fact, if you watch the screencast again, there 
> might be hints of "data driving interfaces", albeit only for developers, 
> not end-users. What other major wins at no cost are you seeing?

OK; I'm game. This is a list Fred and I have not published before 
for "major wins":

  1. Context-specific autocompletion
  2. Context-specific dropdown lists
  3. Instance record previews
  4. Class (concept) previews
  5. Instance record details
  6. Class (concept) details
  7. CRUD actions on all items (depending on authorization/access 
  8. Label viewing/selection v IRIs
  9. Item look-up/search (contextual, via label or IRIs)
10. Synonym/alias matching ("semsets") or lookup
11. Easy internationalization (viz labels)
12. Automatic inferencing
13. What's related lookup
14. More specific/more generic lookups
15. Local graph visualization
16. Full linkage navigation (linked data)
17. Contextual, directed work flows (query building, template 
building/selection, analysis, etc)
18. Contextual tooltips/popups
19. Contextual help
20. Dataset-level access and scope.

I saw a few of the above in your system. I especially like your 
syntax tolerance, interactive tree ("one-by-one"), and "inside 
out" ideas.  Very clever.

There are many reasons why we think RDF the superior choice for 
all of these purposes [1].

In our own work, we also give great care to the separation of 
instances and their records (ABox) from conceptual schema (TBox), 
which, when using the same techniques above, also provides highly 
useful contextuality and targeted selections.  For example, as a 
teaser, all instance types can be classified into discrete, 
disjoint "supertypes" that greatly aid disambiguation or display 
template selection [2].

These reasons are why we describe our stuff as "data-driven 
applications".  Generic tools incorporating the ideas above can 
be contextually driven through simple swap outs of ontologies and 
domains.  Indeed, ontology(ies) are what *actually* drives the 

IMO, from a consumer perspective, Fred's query builder when at 
Zitgist was the best I have seen [3].  That was two years ago, 
and we never commercialized it, but have taken some of those 
ideas forward with our current stuff.

We have no issue with JSON as a naive authoring environment or 
for data exchange.  Indeed, we view it as often superior to 
straight RDF.

But, our internal, canonical representations are RDF as 
structured and organized above because we get all of these 
data-driven interface advantages "for free".  We further can 
avoid all of the SEO problems of client-side JSON, a concern of 
mine going back to early work with the deep Web.

I'd be interested in your or others' similar ideas.


[1] http://www.mkbergman.com/?p=483
[2] For example, see references to BBN or Sekine in 
[3] http://www.zitgist.com/products/query_builder.html

> David
> Mike Bergman wrote:
>> This has been a classic case of Cool Hand Luke and a failure to 
>> communicate.  Indeed, it happens all of the time in this forum.
>> David comes from a perspective of usability and user interfaces, 
>> granted with a JS bias.  Most all of us have recognized his genius for 
>> quite some time, and he is a leading innovator in such data presentation.
>> Kingsley has been a passionate advocate for data connectivity and 
>> overcoming all things "silo".  Middleware is his game (and OL's). 
>>  Data and manipulating data is his perspective, and we know the 
>> superior infrastructure that his personal and then corporate 
>> commitments to these issues have brought.
>> Benjamin notes today the difference in perspective.  Does it begin 
>> with the user experience, or does it begin with the data?
>> The answer, of course, is Yes.
>> David with JSON and MQL and other things FB might be criticized.  As 
>> he knows, I have done so personally offline and directly.
>> Kingsley might be criticized for facile hand-waving at UI and 
>> usability questions; he, too, knows I have made those points privately.
>> I truly don't know what our "community" really is or, if indeed, we 
>> even have one.  But I do know this:
>> All of us work on these issues because we believe in them and have 
>> passion.  So, I have a simple suggestion:
>> Keep looking outward.  We need to talk and speak to the 
>> "unaffiliated".  In that regard, David has the upper hand because 
>> presentation and flash will always be easier to understand for the 
>> non-cognescenti.  But, David, you know this too:  your job is easier 
>> if the nature of the data and its structure drives your display.
>> There are HUGE, HUGE advantages of data driving interfaces and 
>> usability that neither of you are discussing.  Let's next turn our 
>> attention there and gain some major wins at no cost.
>> Mike
>> David Huynh wrote:
>>> Kingsley,
>>> Thanks for the resources and the detailed explanation! Looks like all 
>>> the pieces are there!
>>> David
>>> Kingsley Idehen wrote:
>>>> David Huynh wrote:
>>>>> Thanks for the link, Juan.
>>>>> Just curious, even if I know SPARQL, how do I (as a new user) know 
>>>>> which properties and types there are in the data? And what URIs to 
>>>>> use for what?
>>>> David,
>>>> Not speaking for Jaun, but seeking to answer the question you posed.
>>>> Our iSPARQL interface takes the view that:
>>>> 1. You lookup vocabularies and ontologies of interest before 
>>>> constructing triple patterns since the terms need to come from 
>>>> somewhere
>>>> 2. You then you use the ontology/vocabulary tree to drag and drop 
>>>> classes over Subject  and Object nodes
>>>> 3. Do the same thing re. properties by selecting them and dropping 
>>>> them over the connectors (predicates)
>>>> 4. Repeat the above until you've completely painted an SPO graph of 
>>>> what you seek.
>>>> BTW - the pattern in steps 2-4 above originated from RDF Author, and 
>>>> we simply adopted it for SPARQL (following a skype session I had 
>>>> with Danbri years ago re. the need for SPARQL QBE). Note: RDF Author 
>>>> allowed you to write Triples directly into RDF information resources 
>>>> via their URLs. Which means the same UI works fine for SPARUL 
>>>> (writing to Quad Store via its internal Graph IRI or Web Information 
>>>> Resource URL).
>>>> Links:
>>>> 1.  http://rdfweb.org/people/damian/RDFAuthor/Tutorial/ -- RDF Author
>>>> Kingsley
>>>>> David
>>>>> Juan Sequeda wrote:
>>>>>> You may want to check out a tool that we are working on: SQUIN
>>>>>> http://squin.informatik.hu-berlin.de/SQUIN/
>>>>>> Juan Sequeda, Ph.D Student
>>>>>> Dept. of Computer Sciences
>>>>>> The University of Texas at Austin
>>>>>> www.juansequeda.com <http://www.juansequeda.com>
>>>>>> www.semanticwebaustin.org <http://www.semanticwebaustin.org>
>>>>>> On Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 9:18 PM, David Huynh <dfhuynh@alum.mit.edu 
>>>>>> <mailto:dfhuynh@alum.mit.edu>> wrote:
>>>>>>     Hi all,
>>>>>>     Admittedly this is somewhat of a tease and shameless
>>>>>>     self-promotion :-) but I think there are a few interesting
>>>>>>     concepts in the query editor for Freebase that I've been working
>>>>>>     on that can be very useful for querying and consuming LOD data 
>>>>>> sets:
>>>>>>       http://www.freebase.com/app/queryeditor/about
>>>>>>     Or maybe I missed it totally--is there anything similar for
>>>>>>     writing SPARQL queries over LOD?
>>>>>>     Cheers,
>>>>>>     David
Received on Thursday, 23 April 2009 14:53:08 UTC

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