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   RE: [xml-dev] RDF for unstructured databases, RDF for axiomatic systems

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> shelleyp@burningbird.net (Shelley Powers) writes:
> >I think, in many ways, that's what many of the objectors have against
> >RDF/XML -- you have to have some pre-knowledge of RDF in order to
> >read it, write it, work with it, and truly understand it.
> I think there are two serious questions any time people move from a
> "just XML" perspective to the "new, improved RDF" perspective.

I think even saying this is dangerous -- an implication that RDF is a
replacement for straight XML. I think that's about as far away from the
purpose of RDF as one can get and still be in the same solar system .

> The first is learning the RDF model.  While the core of that model is
> pretty simple (I think Jonathan Borden has said it takes only one
> slide), figuring out how RDF really works is more complicated.  Anyone
> who has doubts about the intrinsic crunchy goodness of URIs is liable to
> have an aneurysm during any serious encounter with RDF.  The Concept and
> Abstract Syntax document is pretty good for what it does, but the RDF
> model still requires a rather different level of modeling than does XML
> document markup - a level I see as unnecessarily complicating in the
> vast majority of cases where markup is being used.

Simon, you and I are in complete agreement on this. RDF is too complex to
just throw into the XML mix for no reason other than to use it. It's the
same as using a RDBMS when all you really want and need is a comma delimited
text file.

> (I vastly prefer patterns embedded directly in documents to patterns you
> have to assemble in your head outside of the document by linking chains
> of abstract identifiers.)

Hmm. Clarify please?

> The second issue is what I see as a more or less permanent mismatch
> between RDF's graph model and XML's hierarchical model, which produces
> some serious syntactic complications.  Jonathan Borden has done very
> well recently with his revised RDDL/RDF, but I think he's mostly
> achieved it by hiding the RDF impact on the XML syntax to the maximum
> extent possible.  (It's very reassuring to see that this is possible,
> actually.)

Again, completely agree. As Danny (and others) have said here and elsewhere,
there isn't a clean match between RDF's graph model and XML's tree (or
hierarchical) model. No amount of simplification will eliminate this.

> >So then the question becomes: Is the issue really about the existing
> >RDF/XML? Or is it about the complexity of the RDF model? I think we
> >need to be very sure about this before we run off into alternative
> >syntax tangents.
> For me, it's definitely about both.  I can read the RDF model, but have
> no interest at all in using it to model anything more complicated than
> about a FOAF file.  For the modeling I need to do, the XML BB gun is
> much more appropriate than the RDF Gatling Gun, and far less likely to
> cause collateral damage.

But then, you wouldn't take a BB gun into war...

No seriously, my biggest concern recently is that there seems to be an
assumption that those who are interested in RDF are seeking to replace
straight XML uses with RDF/XML. All RDF/XML is the 'official' and most
accepted and used RDF serialization. It's not the model, which is the meat
of RDF. And it's not the only syntax. And it's definitely not a replacement
for straight XML.

It is, however, a very effective tool when one wants to use a consistent,
proven meta-data structure in order to organize one's data, in XML or not.
And it does come with a great deal of tools and APIs that does allow one to
easily access and work with the data so constrained, while being assured
that said data is consistent -- not only across the one application but
across all applications that use said model and said XML based on the model.

> The existing RDF/XML looks ridiculous to me, and I find its odd bouncing
> off qualified/unqualified attributes to be a warning sign for the XML
> namespaces specs, but I think a lot of that has to do with basic
> incompatibilities between the models.

But as you and I have discussed in the past, we come from two different
perspectives. You come from a markup background, and the decoration that
qualified attributes brings clutters XML, and adversely impacts on XML (not
just on RDF/XML, but by the fact that the concepts are leaking into the XML
world at large). I, on the other hand, come from a strong data background
and could care less about clutter, as long as I'm guaranteed a
consist/reliable model.

This isn't a measure of right or wrong, but could explain differences in
opinion and perspective. Or not, as the case may be. (What the heck, it's
Sunday, the sun is shining, the day is gorgeous -- what am I doing here?)



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