RE: Shapes/ShEx or the worrying issue of yet another syntax and lack of validated vision.

Hi Jerven,

I agree that for SHEX we should look at Resource Shapes, OWL, ICV and SPIN. As the topics you presented in the previous mail can be nicely solved with SPIN as you noted. So for that part there is no need to start redefining the stuff.

However I think its good that they looked also at it from a different angle(starting of from the XML schema) however this should not lead to a 4th independent solution if we can sync with/reuse items from Resource shapes, OWL, ICV and/or SPIN.

As the SHEX standard is just in the starting phase every thing can still be adopted, however it is impossible to consider all the items at the same time, as each topic can start many discussions.

As time progress each of the items should be(I think it will be) considered. What the final conclusion will be of that is something we will see in the future. Even if the standard becomes a rather small definition that heavily depends on SPIN and ICV then its still goods that it is there.

For now the discussion left me with things to consider and test for my use case. It is up to W3C and the others in the group what to discuss first and how to continue.

Van: Jerven Bolleman []
Verzonden: vrijdag 18 juli 2014 22:40
Aan: Kendall Clark
CC: Dimitris Kontokostas; Jose Emilio Labra Gayo; Dam, Jesse van;
Onderwerp: Re: Shapes/ShEx or the worrying issue of yet another syntax and lack of validated vision.

I completely agree with Kendall.

A standard would look at the similarities between Resource Shapes, ICV and SPIN and see if a common syntax can be achieved.
What seems to be happening instead is that a 4th independent option is being designed.
Which means that the real standard will then need to look into standardising Shex, Resource Shapes, ICV and SPIN.
Giving standard number 5, which is how WGs become inspiration for XKCD and Dilbert comics

ShEX currently reuses practically nothing of the earlier work or existing W3C standards.

And a lot is being said about usability but no one recalls the sad joke.

   Some people, when confronted with a problem, think
   I know, I'll use regular expressions.   Now they have two problems.

ASCII art is not a requirement any more.
Saving bits is a goal of compression algorithms.
Code should strive for readability, especially validation code.

E.g. this SPARQL pseudo style of using
{ [] foaf:name xsd:string }
{ [] foaf:givenName xsd:string }

Is a much better idea than
{ foaf:name xsd:string ;
  | foaf:givenName xsd:string }
Where we started using the binary OR symbol to mean XOR and that is rather similar to || or the normal OR people are exposed to.

For the rest I saw the UniProt ShEX example and it is not at all representative for what a database like UniProt really needs.

Attached to this e-mail is PDF/poster about how SPIN is actually looked at in the UniProt consortium.

All in all I really encourage the Charter writers to really look at what is out there being used in the semweb world.
And look at standardising that instead of looking to the XML and Regex planets, which we thankfully left behind.


On 18 Jul 2014, at 18:24, Kendall Clark <> wrote:

> On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 12:20 PM, Dimitris Kontokostas <> wrote:
> Instead of criticizing what ShEx can't do we should all try to see what ShEx should do.
> Why? Standards bodies should be about standardizing existing systems. This is one thing the W3C has consistently gotten wrong in the semantic web space: too much speculative research done in the guise of standardization.
> I think we all agree that a compact human syntax (with equivalent RDF representation) that covers common validations cases and SPARQL extensions is something we all want.
> SPIN, IBM Resource Shapes, and Stardog ICV already provide that. You can't get any more compact human syntax than, say, Manchester OWL syntax for constraints: see for many *real* examples from shipping code.
> I too don't like some parts of ShEx but I think it's a good initiative to bootstrap a standard.
> That isn't how standardization works best.
> I already raised some issues in the mailing list and have a few more from my experience with RDFUnit - but will raise them later since the maintainers are now too busy replying.
> Those are all valid, interesting points for ShEx, which is at this point an interesting proof of concept or prototype of an idea. That work should be carried out in an R&D context. W3C Working Groups are not R&D contexts.
> Cheers,
> Kendall Clark

Jerven Bolleman              
SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics      Tel: +41 (0)22 379 58 85
CMU, rue Michel Servet 1               Fax: +41 (0)22 379 58 58
1211 Geneve 4,
Switzerland<> -<>
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Received on Monday, 21 July 2014 13:51:21 UTC