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   Re: [xml-dev] RDF for unstructured databases, RDF for axiomaticsystems

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At 7:14 PM -0800 11/17/02, Tim Bray wrote:
>Shelley Powers wrote:
>>I think you're all focusing on the syntax when the issue really is the
>In fact, what I and others are claiming is that the syntax is 
>getting in the way of peoples' learning and liking the model.  You 
>are on the record, repeatedly, that you disagree; so be it.  I think 
>history is against you (cf the WWW).
>>If we were to create an example RDF document using Tim's quickly
>>put together demonstration (note that Tim only put RPV together in an
>>evening and only meant it as a demonstration, see
>>http://weblog.burningbird.net/fires/000661.htm#comment3032) XML and the
>>existing RDF/XML and bring in a naive user, the person would have just
>>as much problem with Tim's syntax as he or she would with RDF/XML.
>I disagree entirely.  The design goal of RPV is precisely that a 
>human who knows qualitatively that RDF is a model based on 
>resource/property/value triples, and knows very little more, can 
>look at RPV and figure out what's going on and start either 
>hand-authoring it or (more likely) generating it with a perl script 
>or PHP or ASB or whatever their favorite tool is, and have a very 
>high chance of getting it right first time.  Without having to read 
>any *any* W3C recommmendations.  How can that not be important?

Tim, I think then you need to provide test cases for your syntax. In 
fact, can you translate the RDF/XML test cases into your syntax? They 
do represent instantiations of model constructs, represented in 
RDF/XML. This means they should be able to map equally well over to 
your syntax.

Question: Why generate it with a script? I thought your thing was 
human readability and writing?

>Anyhow, as noted, you disagree with this, in which case RPV is a 
>pointless distraction from the Real Work of convincing people to put 
>up with the ugliness of RDF/XML syntax because it's Good For Them. 
>Who konws, it might work eventually; but I think it would be easier 
>if the syntax was easier.

I'll take working over pretty, but if you can prove your syntax 
handles all aspects of the RDF model, I'd be content. I might not use 
it myself, but would be willing to point people to it as a working, 
simplified, alternative.

>BTW I went back and looked at RPV again and I'm pretty sure that I 
>could use it to do all the RDF work I've ever done.  I think you'd 
>probably need one more element <RPV> to group your assertions and to 
>serve as the root if you wanted to have an all-RPV resource.  Ouch - 
>just increased the element-type headcount by 50%.

How do you handle a RDF stripe? node-arc-node-arc? Do you create a 
property that's a resource and then define the resource elsewhere? Or 
do you nest it? Also, how do you handle containers? These aren't 
RDF/XML constructs -- these are RDF model constructs. They would need 
to map to your syntax. I'm not sure how to do this, unambiguously 
from your document.

Again, the test cases would be a good place to start, and then let's 
grab some real world RDF/XML and try it.

>So the challenge remains.  There is existence proof of a syntax 
>which is XML, which unambiguously encodes resource/property/value 
>triples, and which anyone can easily read.  Are you *really* sure 
>the Semantic Web doesn't need something like this to help get off 
>the ground?  Really?  -Tim

If you can prove that the syntax meets the needs of the model, and if 
people can read what's happening without recourse to the model, cool. 
As I said, I think the next step is to take some actual RDF/XML and 
try it out in your syntax.

For instance, I'll take my Post Content application RDF/XML 
vocabulary and see if I can translate it into your syntax. However, 
first I do need answers to the two questions I posed in this note -- 
how do you handle a stripe (nested arc-node-arc-node), and how do you 
handle a collection?

Also, have you submitted it to the RDF working group? I would think 
that they would listen to you. If it tests out and works, I would 
think that they would see about including it in the spec with this 
release. I've always found them to be quite responsive, and I 
wouldn't have the clout you would. In fact, I can't help thinking 
that if this quiets most of the critics, they'd be quite happy to 
include it.

And as a general note: Do I think RDF and RDF/XML are perfect? Nope. 
No such thing as perfect, anywhere. I've seen people raise some very 
good arguments, and give some very good specifics about what needs 
improvement. But, as I have also stated, I would rather see the RDF 
spec released for work now, and in parallel, start a new effort for a 
simplified syntax that maps to the old complicated syntax, then scrap 
it all and start over from the beginning. Because if we start over, I 
guarantee we'll only  be right back here where we're at in 3 years.



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