Re: [ALL] RDF/A Primer for review - Response to Gary Ng's Comments

Yes, I will. Can you send mail to the list about the status/location of 
the version we should decide about?


Ben Adida wrote:
> Guus,
> Yes, we would like to ask the working group to approve moving the RDF/ A 
> Primer to Working Draft status. We'd like to spend the 3-month  
> extension to continue to get feedback from the WG and to add more  
> examples.
> If this vote can be squeezed into tomorrow's telecon agenda, that  would 
> be fantastic.
> -Ben
> On Jan 22, 2006, at 7:32 PM, Guus Schreiber wrote:
>> Ben,
>> Areyou in a position to propose the draft for WG publication?
>> Best,
>> Guus
>> Ben Adida wrote:
>>> Gary,
>>> Thanks very much for your comments.
>>> Please find the task force's responses below. Note that the  
>>> responses  from Section 1 (Overall Organization) are from me  alone, 
>>> while the  responses to Section 2 (Design of RDF/A itself)  are the 
>>> result of  task force discussions from this week's  telecon. We did 
>>> not have time  to cover Section 1 in our telecon,  so, as the primary 
>>> author of the  Primer, I take it upon myself to  answer those 
>>> organizational  questions. The conceptual questions  were discussed 
>>> with everyone.
>>>> It is a nice piece of work with clear intentions and examples. The
>>>> principle of not duplicating content and embedding RDF content in  
>>>> a  way
>>>> browsers can extract is clearly articulated. The proposal with
>>>> individual examples surrounding the photos and camera use case, plus
>>>> showing their RDF equivalent is very informative.
>>> Thanks!
>>>> 1) Overall Organization
>>>> =======================
>>>> Would it be beneficial for the reader to have some brief   
>>>> introduction on
>>>> basic constructs, before diving into how they are used in the  use  
>>>> case?
>>>> I found it difficult to follow the examples without first have an
>>>> overview understanding of (or knowing the boundary  surrounding...) the
>>>> number of ways in which RDF can be specified, and using which
>>>> constructs.
>>>> For example, mid way through the doc, I found myself asking the
>>>> question:
>>>>     - "How about annotating tables, frames, forms and dynamic  content
>>>> from scripts producing menus and flash?"
>>>>     - "How do I create chains of triples?" For example, an  address  
>>>> of a
>>>> person (Mark in the example), represented by an annoymous node,   
>>>> which in
>>>> turn has statements specifying triples making up the address.
>>>> These were answered after checking the RDF/A Syntax [1]. In fact,  the
>>>> primer could effortlessly include these concepts only with a little
>>>> introduction to the constructs.
>>> We wrestled with this a bit, and we chose to keep the RDF/A  Primer  
>>> short and example-focused, leaving the syntax description  to the 
>>> RDF/ A Syntax Document. The RDF/A Primer is definitely not  meant to 
>>> be  complete, but rather to give a taste of what RDF/A  can do for 
>>> you. If  the Primer raised questions that led you to  the syntax 
>>> document, then  that is a successful Primer, in my  opinion.
>>> Mark Birbeck is working on a set of even simpler examples to  target  
>>> the blogging community. These would help introduce simple  metadata  
>>> for HTML authors, before we even bring in RDF triples.  I'll talk 
>>> more  about this at Monday's telecon.
>>>> 1.1) In the preliminaries, the following sentence may provide some
>>>> initial context to the reader.
>>>>      "An XHTML document marked up with RDF/A constructs is a  valid  
>>>> XHTML
>>>> Document. RDF/A is about using XHTML compatible constructs and
>>>> extensions to specify RDF 'content'. It is not about embedding RDF
>>>> syntax into XHTML documents."
>>> Good suggestion.  We'll work this into the Primer.
>>>> 1.2) With regards to the above questions I had while reading, I   
>>>> suggest
>>>> a small section right up front to introduce the basics, possible  with
>>>> some simple examples from Section 3:
>>>>      "id" and "about" - These are equivalent to rdf:id and  rdf:about.
>>>> They can appear as xml attributes in any XHTML constructs,   
>>>> including UL,
>>>> LI, DIV, BLOCKQUOTES, P ... etc. They essentially declare a rdf   
>>>> subject
>>>> for constructing RDF/A statements, either locally within one  document,
>>>> or made reference-able from other documents in the case of "id".
>>>>      "link" and "meta" - These are the main constructs to create  rdf/a
>>>> statements. Link is used to create a relationship to another URI
>>>> resource, whereas meta is used to attach literal properties. These
>>>> constructs can specify its own subject using "about", or they  take the
>>>> immediate parent XHTML element's "about" as subject. In the case  where
>>>> the immediate parent does not have qualifying URI, the subject is an
>>>> anonymous rdf node. In the case where the immediate parent is a
>>>> link/meta element without an "about" URI, this statement reifies the
>>>> parent statement.
>>>>      "anchor" and "span" - These are alternative constructs to  create
>>>> rdf/a statements. While anchor can be used instead of link, span   
>>>> can be
>>>> used instead of meta. Their difference to link and meta is that  anchor
>>>> and span applies to an 'inherited' rdf subject. The nesting   
>>>> inheritance
>>>> is identical to how xmlns attribute is inherited within an XML   
>>>> document.
>>>> If the nesting chain does not contain a qualified subject, the   
>>>> document
>>>> itself is the subject. These constructs allow the RDF content to
>>>> somewhat follow the presentation of the content and thus avoid
>>>> duplication.
>>>>      Both meta and span each have two ways of specifying the   
>>>> associating
>>>> literal value. One is reusing what would also be displayed (the  CDData
>>>> of the element):
>>>>      <[span|meta] property="dc:date" type="xsd:date">2006-01-02</ span>
>>>>      The alternative is to use the 'content' attribute, where  the  
>>>> value
>>>> is not the the CDData and thus it is not displayed as well as being
>>>> different to the CDData.
>>>>      <[span|meta] property="dc:date" type="xsd:date"
>>>> content="2006-01-02">XYZ</span>
>>>>      In the latter case, if there is no CDData to display, this
>>>> effectively attaches a piece of RDF that does not have any   
>>>> presentation
>>>> consequence. This symmetry is also observed with link and anchor.
>>> This is very useful text, but it seems much more appropriate for  
>>> the  RDF/A Syntax document. The Primer's role is really to  introduce 
>>> RDF/A  to an HTML audience that isn't expected to know  much about 
>>> RDF in the  first place. Jumping into a description of  all the RDF 
>>> concepts up  front seems a bit much for a Primer.
>>> Again, I do think this is useful for the Syntax document, though.
>>>> 1.3 Perhaps the primer should be arranged with a target reader  in  
>>>> mind.
>>>> For example, to arrange from the point of view of an HTML author   
>>>> wanting
>>>> to find out how to add annotations to his/her docs, in the  
>>>> quickest  time
>>>> possible.
>>>> Primer How-to:
>>>> A) say something about the Doc itself -
>>>>   => essentially already in the examples within Section 3.
>>>>   . examples on link and meta,
>>>>   . examples on span and anchor,
>>>> B) declaring individual elements contained in a doc, and say  something
>>>> about them:
>>>>   . Adding an id, currently embedded within section 4.3
>>>>   . The use of about, currently embedded within section 4.2
>>>>   . Then the usual way like above (A) to add metadata.
>>>>   . Refering back to an id within the same doc.
>>>>   . Refering an id in a different doc.
>>>> C) say something about external content that the author has no  control
>>>> over
>>>>   => Currently 4.1
>>>>   . Annotating href links,
>>>>   . Annotating opague objects: images, scripts, objects
>>>> D) Advanced Metadata
>>>>   . using "link" and "meta" with unqualified XHTML elements,  creating
>>>> chains of triples.
>>> Yes, this is exactly what we're trying to do with the added  
>>> examples  that Mark is developing. The only difference is that  we're 
>>> going to  stay away from talking too much about RDF graphs,  and 
>>> rather gently  guide the HTML author from adding simple  properties 
>>> to adding more  complex RDF statements.
>>>> 1.4 Section 4.3 Qualifying chunks of document.
>>>>      The title doesn't quite match the content here. The content is
>>>> about how to declare elements and metadata (of individual  cameras  
>>>> on one
>>>> page) for other documents (photo album pages) to reference using   
>>>> ids. It
>>>> is still talking about annotating individual items (Cameras) in the
>>>> document, and not chunks of document as a whole.
>>> A good point. Again, I wonder how much HTML authors will really   
>>> differentiate here, but the language should be clear  nevertheless.  
>>> I'll work on this.
>>>> 2) RDF/A itself.
>>>> =============================
>>>> I must say at first glance I found the approach extremely   
>>>> confusing. RDF
>>>> Mark up mixed with presentation markup such as <H1   
>>>> property="dc:title">.
>>>> But I appreciate that there aren't that many choices to avoid
>>>> duplication of content, and to allow RDF markup within an orthogonal
>>>> presentation structure.
>>> Yes, there is bound to be some confusion at first. We're  certainly  
>>> trying to minimize it - thus the limited scope of this  primer.  
>>> Hopefully, by the time you finished reading the document,  you were  
>>> less confused. But let us know if there are additional  things we 
>>> can  do (beyond your comments here) to reduce this  confusion.
>>>> 2.1) Synchronization issue between metadata on a doc, versus the
>>>> metadata contained within that doc itself.
>>>>     Images, files and other media will have their own metadata   
>>>> embedded
>>>> in the future. Certainly another html document will have its own
>>>> metadata. If RDF/A allows metadata to be added locally about a  remote
>>>> URL, potentially the local metadata could be out of sync, or worse
>>>> contradict the metadata embedded within the resource itself?
>>> This is indeed an issue of concern, though it appears to be one  
>>> that  applies to all RDF serializations, including RDF/XML.  Methods 
>>> for  resolving such inconsistencies should be devised at a  general 
>>> RDF level.
>>>> 2.2) Consistency
>>>>      I suspect there may already be an answer to this: Why are we  not
>>>> using rdf prefixed attributes for RDF/A elements/attributes? rdf:id?
>>>> rdf:about? rdf:property, rdf:resource, rdf:description? This   
>>>> relates to
>>>> Pat's [2] comments about future migration from RDF to XHTML too.
>>> The most important point here is that the task force tried hard  to  
>>> use RDF/XML syntax for RDF/A, but this failed because of RDF/ XML's  
>>> striped syntax. Note also that reusing existing HTML  attributes 
>>> turns  out to make for a very good migration path for  HTML authors 
>>> (who  constitute the main target of this work.)
>>> As per our response to Pat's comments, the right way to migrate  
>>> large  chunks of RDF/XML into HTML is to use a <link rel="meta">  
>>> element.  The hard part of the migration requires determining  which 
>>> rendered  data corresponds to which RDF property, and no  amount of 
>>> syntax can  help there: it's a semantic merging operation.
>>>> 2.3)  How about inheriting metadata through nested elements?
>>>> > In [2] Pat Hayes wrote:
>>>> >
>>>> > Also, giving an id to a whole RDF (sub)graph fits naturally
>>>> > with the 'named graph' idea, unlike giving an id to every triple.
>>>> >
>>>> This is interesting and would qualify as "Qualifying chunks of
>>>> document". For example, using some special non-presentational XHTML
>>>> elements to "group" metadata together?
>>> There may be a misunderstanding here. There *is* nesting in RDF/ A:  
>>> you can inherit the about attribute as far up/down the DOM  
>>> hierarchy  as you'd like. Is that what you're after?
>>>> 2.4) The <img> element not allowing child elements makes the  whole  
>>>> RDF/A
>>>> approach rather uneven. Is <img> the only XHTML element that does  not
>>>> allow child element? could XHTML2 be changed to allow these meta   
>>>> data to
>>>> be the solely allowed child elements?
>>>>     <li> <img src="/user/markb/photo/23456" />,
>>>>       <span about="/user/markb/photo/23456" property="dc:title">
>>>>         Sunset in Nice
>>>>       </span>
>>>>     </li>
>>>>     Why don't we use the same approach instead of using <span>?
>>>>     <img src="/user/markb/photo/23456" property="dc:title">
>>>>       Sunset in Nice
>>>>     </img>
>>>>     of ocurse this now the subject is src="". But we can still  
>>>> make  this
>>>> work to say for img, the "about" is the "src" attribute. See 2.5   
>>>> below.
>>> This turns out to be one of our outstanding issues that we are  
>>> still  finalizing. [1]
>>> We are currently leaning towards the syntax you mention, where  the  
>>> content of an image element could include metadata about that  image  
>>> and the SRC attribute would be the subject. Steven is  checking with  
>>> the XHTML working group to ensure that this does  not cause any  
>>> unforeseen complications. However, what's important  to note is 
>>> that,  even if this syntax is adopted, the "Sunset in  Nice" text in 
>>> your  above example would only be rendered in a  browser if there is 
>>> a  failure to load the image.
>>> This seems consistent with the fact that the image is really an   
>>> external resource, and any internal HTML element value should  
>>> really  be considered an ALT tag from the point of view of  
>>> rendering. Note  that the same would apply to OBJECT elements.
>>>> 2.5) Flexible subject/object referrals suggestion.
>>>> Motivation 1:
>>>>      One thing that RDF/A has not considered is the annotation of  HTML
>>>> forms. Imagine sofware agents understanding the form semantically  and
>>>> automagically carryout complex form filling (beyond username,   
>>>> passwords
>>>> and personal information) on behalf of the user. I believe forms'
>>>> annotations will be extremely important for the semantic web.
>>> Forms annotation is indeed important, and is already possible  with  
>>> the current RDF/A. Remember that any XHTML element can be  
>>> annotated.  What we should do is add an example in the primer to  
>>> show how this  can be done, something along the lines of (this is  
>>> XHTML1, just to  explain the principle):
>>> ======
>>> <form method="post" action="/foobar">
>>>    <meta property="dc:description" content="Login Form" />
>>>    <input type="text" name="username">
>>>       <meta property="dc:title" content="username" />
>>>    </input>
>>> ...
>>> </form>
>>> =======
>>> With proper annotations, browsers could become much smarter about   
>>> what they do with these forms, as you mention.
>>>> Motivation 2:
>>>>      The use of content, href, about, id, are ways to specify the
>>>> subject and the object/value of the rdf statements. I feel that   
>>>> they are
>>>> somewhat restrictive, especially when the author acknowledges  that  
>>>> there
>>>> are still some unavoidable duplication of content.
>>>>      To further reduce duplication of URIs and literals, as well  as to
>>>> cater for annotating HTML forms in the future, it would seem a more
>>>> flexible approach may be possible.
>>>>      Assuming the subject and object of the rdf statement can be  taken
>>>> from existing XHTML (or XML) element attributes, one can completely
>>>> avoid duplication by 'referring' to those attributes from  another, for
>>>> example:
>>>>      . <img src="http://....." attrAsStmtSubject="src">
>>>>      . Normally the attrAsStmtSubject defaults to "about" and "id"
>>>>      . <a href="http://....." attrAsStmtObject="href">
>>>>      . Normally the attrAsStmtObject defaults to "href" and thus  could
>>>> be unspecified.
>>>>      . Similarly attrAsStmtValue="content",   
>>>> attrAsStmtValue="CDData", or
>>>> any other attributes/text element.
>>>>       Although I have not worked out the details, but I believe  these
>>>> three new attributes (attrAsStmtSubject and attrAsStmtValue/ 
>>>> Object)  are
>>>> compatible with RDF/A concepts, and I believe they will allow  forms to
>>>> be annotated without much content duplication.
>>> The task force feels that much of the motivations for these  changes  
>>> could be accomplished without any additional complexity  (see form  
>>> annotation above). Certainly, your suggestion would  further reduce  
>>> data duplication, but only with significant added  complexity in RDF/ 
>>> A. Extracting triples would become far more  complicated, as the  
>>> values of certain attributes would affect the  actual parsing of the  
>>> rest of the document. Thus, at this point,  we would not want to 
>>> adopt  this recommendation.
>>> Thanks for some very useful and insightful comments. Please let  us  
>>> know if these answers give rise to new questions.
>>> -Ben Adida
>>> [1] 
>>> issues#src
>> -- 
>> Free University Amsterdam, Computer Science
>> De Boelelaan 1081a, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
>> Tel: +31 20 598 7739/7718; e-mail:
>> Home page:

Free University Amsterdam, Computer Science
De Boelelaan 1081a, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 598 7739/7718; e-mail:
Home page:

Received on Monday, 23 January 2006 01:19:46 UTC