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Re: Toward easier RDF: a proposal

From: Dave Raggett <dsr@w3.org>
Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2018 10:39:02 +0000
Message-Id: <19F9E9E3-E74F-44B7-A914-80D532363734@w3.org>
Cc: semantic-web <semantic-web@w3.org>, David Booth <david@dbooth.org>
To: "Ruben Verborgh (UGent-imec)" <Ruben.Verborgh@UGent.be>
Hi Ruben,

Your experience with using JavaScript matches mine. I have found RDF easy to work with from JavaScript using a small library that makes it easy to follow links, to work with sets of nodes, and to generate diagrams via export to DOT and a web worker for graphviz. I’ve also explored graphical notations for rules inspired by augmented transition networks (ATNs), which were originally developed to simplify natural language processing. There are many opportunities for high level easy to use tools for working with Linked Data.

The interface definitions at https://rdf.js.org/ look promising, and enable literals and blank nodes as the subject of quads. It would be a simple change to define quad as deriving from term so that we can then have quads as the subject or object of other quads, as a basis for property graphs without needing reification.

This core would pave the way for defining higher level abstractions, e.g. n-ary chunks, that offer simple scripting compared to what would be needed for full blown ontology languages like OWL.

> On 30 Nov 2018, at 22:27, David Booth <david@dbooth.org> wrote:
> Hi Ruben,
> This is quite intriguing.  To follow up and get more concrete, I very much hope that you will post any suggestions you have about how we could make the RDF ecosystem easier, based on your work.
> Thanks,
> David Booth
> On 11/22/18 3:53 AM, Ruben Verborgh (UGent-imec) wrote:
>> Dear all,
>>> At the
>>> same time, a painful reality has emerged: RDF is too hard for
>>> *average* developers.  By "average developers" I mean those
>>> in the middle 33 percent of ability.
>> A couple of months ago, I had an eye-opening experience.
>> I was at a GraphQL conference,
>> where the audience consisted of front-end developers.
>> Now front-end developers are a new generation.
>> They did not exist back when RDF was conceived.
>> They are the people who make the cool things that we see.
>> They’re developers who want build fun stuff
>> and have fun while doing so.
>> Several of them are actually proud of the fact
>> that they are not “decent programmers”,
>> but that they nonetheless make things work nicely.
>> If we want to see more Linked Data apps,
>> they are our target audience.
>> We need to make working with Linked Data fun.
>> We need to focus on the developer experience.
>> Over the past couple of months, I spent quite some time
>> in the context of the Solid ecosystem
>> thinking about how to make Linked Data programming fun.
>> A key decision there is that I aim to
>> enable them to program with Linked Data
>> without having to program with RDF.
>> So in the context of this thread,
>> “easier RDF” to me means “Linked Data”.
>> The main question is to see what tooling *they* are using
>> and how to tap into their ecosystems.
>> And guess what, they are not using Java
>> like the majority of our stacks :-)
>> They’re using JavaScript, TypeScript, React, etc.
>> That’s an important reason why the RDF/JS community
>> in the past couple of years has been working
>> to bring things to the browser.
>> Check out our work at https://github.com/rdfjs
>> Some of my recent work involves bringing Linked Data to React.
>> See it here: https://github.com/solid/react-components
>> And especially look at the source code of an example application:
>> https://github.com/solid/profile-viewer-react/blob/master/src/App.js
>> There’s Linked Data, WebID, FOAF, etc. happening there,
>> but developers are not exposed to RDF.
>> Compare this to the RDF-oriented alternate version:
>> https://github.com/solid/profile-viewer-tutorial/blob/master/index.html
>> https://github.com/solid/profile-viewer-tutorial/blob/master/scripts/main.js
>> Both codebases are the same app, but totally different developer experiences.
>> Crucial for such a good developer experience
>> are also the right query languages.
>> As much as I use SPARQL myself, it’s just too complex.
>> Here’s a JavaScript-based language for path queries,
>> which reduce things such as “the user’s list of friends”
>> to three words (user.friends.label) instead of a SPARQL query:
>> – https://github.com/solid/query-ldflex
>> – https://solid.github.io/ldflex-playground/
>> Here’s our some work for GraphQL over Linked Data
>> by just providing a JSON-LD context to GraphQL queries:
>> – http://query.linkeddatafragments.org/
>> – https://comunica.github.io/Article-ISWC2018-Demo-GraphQlLD/
>> These are all things front-end developers recognize,
>> and they get enthusiastic when they see this.
>> They think Linked Data is fun. (RDF not so much.)
>> By enabling front-end developers to build Linked Data applications,
>> we massively extend our reach.
>> I’ve had many conversations with front-end devs the past couple of months,
>> and understanding their mindset is key to getting traction.
>> Best,
>> Ruben
>> PS A blog post on the Linked Data developer experience
>> with the elements from this mail is in progress.

Dave Raggett <dsr@w3.org> http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett
W3C Data Activity Lead & W3C champion for the Web of things 

Received on Sunday, 2 December 2018 10:39:13 UTC

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