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Re: schema

From: Frank Manola <fmanola@mitre.org>
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 2002 13:29:11 -0400
Message-ID: <3CCED467.D3514E8A@mitre.org>
To: Pat Hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
CC: Dan Brickley <danbri@w3.org>, w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org
What's wrong with the term "RDF Schema", and, if its definition is not
precise enough, creating a precise-enough definition?  I repeat what I
sent to DanBri on this subject:

> The relationship 
> between RDF Schema and XML Schema may need to be clarified;  but I hope 
> that's not because both use the term "schema".  "RDF Schema" is fine! 
> Keep in mind that the Web community is not the only relevant community 
> here.  The database community in particular is quite used to the idea of 
> a "schema" as precisely the sort of thing being described here (and was 
> using the terminology first).  Both RDF and XML schemas are variants of 
> this same theme.  We can't possibly invent new terms each time we find 
> some kind of terminology clash (or similarity) when different 
> communities come together.  We're supposed to be supporting the Semantic 
> Web, for heaven's sake!  If people can't figure out how to distinguish 
> "RDF Schema", "XML Schema", and "database schema", they're in the wrong 
> business.

If people are going to have trouble telling an "RDF schema" from an "XML
schema", imagine that "RDF" and "XML" are namespace prefixes, and spell
them RDF:schema and XML:schema respectively.  If people can't keep them
straight then, we need to go back to the XML namespace folks and tell
them it'll never work.  If the problem is with the definition of "RDF
Schema", how does changing the name help?  (Let's call them "RDF
frogs"...oops!  "frog" is in use already, and someone might think an RDF
frog had a sticky tongue...)


Pat Hayes wrote:
> >Another worry re terminology is that we have two Semantic Web working
> >groups. One group calls RDF schemas
> .....and what are those, exactly? I have never known what this term
> is supposed to mean. Do you mean an RDF graph containing RDFS
> vocabulary?
> >'schemas', the other calls them
> >'ontologies'. To date we've not really used the latter term in RDF Core
> >specs.
> Right, and let's not.
> >I personally don't like it, but that's not important. What is
> >importnat is terminological consistency at least within the RDF-based
> >corner of W3C's work. I'm stumped as to what we do about that. People will
> >ask us (of some RDF/XML schema that uses WebOnt machinery) whether it is
> >an 'ontology' or a 'schema'. Maybe we don't need an answer, but it does
> >seem a bit odd to not know collectively (in WebOnt + RDF Core) what we
> >think we're talking about. Editorial suggestions / contribs on this
> >welcomed...
> Both terms have weeds attached that cause confusion. Maybe we should
> use a new term altogether so that *we* can say what it means.,
> something bland like 'module'. (??) Or what wrong with just talking
> about RDF graphs?

Frank Manola                   The MITRE Corporation
202 Burlington Road, MS A345   Bedford, MA 01730-1420
mailto:fmanola@mitre.org       voice: 781-271-8147   FAX: 781-271-8752
Received on Tuesday, 30 April 2002 13:29:52 UTC

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