(Editor's Note, June 29: The SparQLed project URL now is available here.)
SindiceTech today released SparQLed, the SindiceTech Assisted SPARQL Editor, as an open source project. SindiceTech, a spinoff company from the DERI Institute, commercializes large-scale, Big Data infrastructures for enterprises dealing with semantic data. It has roots in the semantic web index Sindice, which lets users collect, search, and query semantically marked-up web data (see our story here).
SparQLed also is one of the components of the commercial Sindice Suite for helping large enterprises build private linked data clouds. It is designed to give users all the help they need to write SPARQL queries to extract information from interconnected datasets.
“SPARQL is exciting but it’s difficult to develop and work with,” says Giovanni Tummarello, who led the efforts around the Sindice search and analysis engine and is founder and CEO of SindiceTech.
With SQL, the advantage lies in having a schema which users can look at and understand how to write a query. RDF, on the other hand, has the advantage of providing great power and freedom, because information in RDF can be interconnected freely. But, Tummarello says, “with RDF there is no schema because there is all sorts of information from everywhere.” Without knowing which properties are available specifically for a certain URI and in what context, users can wind up writing queries that return no results and get frustrated by the constant iterating needed to achieve their ends.
The comprehensive SparQLed environment provides fully assisted SPARQL query editing that includes full syntactic assistance with syntax highlighting, auto completion and data-driven assistance. Analytics technology is behind the suggestions it provides on writing queries. It doesn’t introduce any new concepts, but rather assists the user in tapping SPARQL’s greatest potential, Tumarello explains – that of exploration and integration on the fly of data which is not well-known a priori.
“We hope it’s going to be a really very interesting contribution to the community,” says Tummarello, who adds that the plans are to enlarge its open source status to that of a community-driven Apache licensed project. Currently, the license will be the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL), but release under the Apache licence is in the near future.
“This might be a very big step for the semantic web,” he says. “There have been other attempts of simplifying writing SPARQL queries, but this usually requires the user to become familiar with other paradigms (e.g. graphical query composition), which often quickly fail as the query becomes not a toy one and limitations in the alternative design models become evident, forcing the user to manually edit the query anyway.”
The project URL should be available soon. We'll update the story with this information when it is.