W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > semantic-web@w3.org > June 2009

Re: .htaccess a major bottleneck to Semantic Web adoption / Was: Re: RDFa vs RDF/XML and content negotiation

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 15:18:27 -0500
Cc: martin.hepp@ebusiness-unibw.org, Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>, bill.roberts@planet.nl, public-lod@w3.org, semantic-web at W3C <semantic-web@w3c.org>
Message-Id: <974695F7-BC03-45E6-B87C-856C04A65EEC@ihmc.us>
To: Tom Heath <tom.heath@talis.com>
With the sincerest respect, Tom, your attitude here is part of the  
problem. Maybe, along with many other people, I am indeed still stuck  
in the mid-1990s. You have permission to be as condescending as you  
like. But still, here I am, stuck. Thoroughly stuck. So no amount of  
condescending "sooo-20th-century, my dear" chatter is going to  
actually enable me to get to a place where I can do what you think I  
should be doing. I cannot use a rewrite rule to catch incoming  
requests, or do whatever you are talking about here. I live in an  
environment where I simply do not have access at all to the workings  
of my server at a level that close to the metal, because it is already  
woven into a clever maze of PHP machinery which is too fragile to  
allow erks like me to mess with it. Some of the best W3C techies have  
taken a look, and they can't find a way through it, either. Maybe Im  
in a special position, but I bet a whole lot of people, especially in  
the corporate world, are in a similar bind. System level access to a  
server is quite a different beast than being allowed to publish HTML  
on a website somewhere. I can, and do, publish HTML, or indeed just  
about any file I like, but I don't get to insert code. So 6 lines or  
600, it makes no difference.

But in any case, this is ridiculous. RDF is just XML text, for  
goodness sake.  I need to insert lines of code into a server file,   
and write PHP scripts, in order to publish some RDF or HTML?  That is  
insane. It would have been insane in the mid-1990s and its even more  
insane now. IMO, it is you (and Tim and the rest of the W3C) who are  
stuck in the past here.  Most Web users do not, and will not, write  
code. They will be publishing content in a cloud somewhere, even  
further away from the gritty world of scripts and lines of code than  
people - most people - are now. Most actual content providers are  
never going to want to even know that PHP scripts exist, let alone be  
obliged to write or copy one. Martin is exactly right: this is a MAJOR  
bottleneck to SWeb adoption. Its up to the people in the TAG to listen  
to this fact and do something about it, not to keep issuing useless   
'best practice' advice that cannot be followed by 99% of the world.

RDF should be text, in documents. One should be able to use it without  
knowing about anything more than the RDF spec and the XML spec. If it  
requires people to tinker with files with names starting with a dot,  
or write code, or deploy scripts, then the entire SWeb architecture is  
fundamentally broken.

Pat Hayes

On Jun 25, 2009, at 1:30 PM, Tom Heath wrote:

> Hi Martin, all,
> 2009/6/25 Martin Hepp (UniBW) <martin.hepp@ebusiness-unibw.org>:
>> Hi all:
>> After about two months of helping people generate RDF/XML metadata  
>> for their
>> businesses using the GoodRelations annotator [1],
>> I have quite some evidence that the current best practices of using
>> .htaccess are a MAJOR bottleneck for the adoption of Semantic Web
>> technology.
> Are you referring to the best practices at [1]? Unfortunately the
> recipes in that document that use .htaccess and mod_rewrite for conneg
> no longer count as best practices, precisely due to mod_rewrite and
> .htaccess not being adequate for the conneg/303-redirects pattern.
> This has been a known issue since WWW2007 at least, and documented at
> [2] in July 2007. As far as I know, that recipes document hasn't yet
> been updated/deprecated :( (please someone correct me if I'm wrong).
> The easiest pattern I've found is to use a RewriteRule to catch all
> incoming requests and pass them through a small PHP script that
> examines the Accept header and sends back 303s (or 200s) as
> appropriate. The code is about 6 lines; I'll publish it somewhere if I
> didn't already.
> Admittedly, this doesn't solve the problem of access to .htaccess
> files. This bottleneck sounds to me like someone circa mid-1990s
> saying "my sysadmins won't let me have access to space on the web
> server". I guess we need to use lessons learned from that era to
> address the problems of this one. Anyway fancy doing a Linked Data for
> Sysadmins tutorial at a sysadmin conference?
> Cheers,
> Tom.
> [1] http://www.w3.org/TR/swbp-vocab-pub/
> [2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-swbp-wg/2007Jul/0001.html

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Received on Thursday, 25 June 2009 20:20:32 UTC

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