A Different Way to Think about RDF

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Ian Davis recently sketched out an “alternate way of thinking about RDF, one that is resource-oriented rather than triple-oriented.” He writes, “The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a framework for representing information in the Web. RDF has a simple data model that is easy for applications to process and manipulate. The data model is independent of any specific serialization syntax. RDF provides information about resources through Resource Descriptions. A Resource Description consists of: (1) A subject resource identified by a URI. (2) Zero or more relationships to other resources. (3) Zero or more properties having literal values.”

He continues, “A relationship comprises a pair of URIs: the first URI denotes the type of relationship, the second identifies the related resource. A property comprises a pairing of a URI with a literal value. The URI denotes the type of property. The  literal value is a string with an optional datatype (denoted by a further URI) or language tag (as defined by RFC-3066).” Davis noted that this way of thinking is “Nothing technically different from the existing formulation (I omitted mention of blank nodes for brevity only – they would still be present) but perhaps a lot easier for developers used to resource-oriented systems to grok.”

One commenter, Christopher Gutteridge added, “It’s very important to stress that RDF/XML is a serialisation of a very, very simple data structure. I usually show programmers N-Triples first, then when their ‘isn’t that verbose?’ concern kicks in, I show them turtle, and explain in apologetic terms about RDF/XML. A really key fact that helps people get their ‘aha’ moment is when they understand that you can combine two piles of triples and get a pile of triples. You can’t do that in JSON, XML or any other structured data format.”

Read more here.

Image: Courtesy Flickr/ westy48

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