Re: Comments on 'precedural approaches'

From: Danny Ayers <>
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2005 12:02:39 +0200

Apologies for the interjection, but I feel obliged to throw in my 2
cents, a bit of devil's advocacy.

> Yes it can. But at what cost? The complexity is so huge... Again, that's
> why I believe the RDF/XML+XSLT approach to be conceptually wrong.

I'd personally be very reluctant to use a phrase as strong as
conceptually wrong. This approach can work conceptually, although is
usually outrageously difficult and is an inappropriate approach in the
general case for the reasons you cite. But it can be done, which is
demonstrated by the SemanticPlanet RDF/XML to NTriples stylesheet [1]
and the Harpers website (see [2]) which is built using XML/XSLT
technologies but is *conceptually* designed around an RDF model.

What's more, some of the triplestores offer some kind of normalised
RDF/XML output, which removes most of the problem caused by variation
in the RDF/XML expression. If what you're wanting is a simple XML
representation of the data (e.g. in XHTML), then applying XSLT to
normalised RDF/XML may actually be the easiest solution.

> My point is that it is not just a question of processing graphs or trees
> with the right tools, it is also a question of how the data is
> structured and represented. When presenting people with the RDF/XML tree
> representation of a model, you force them to build a mental
> representation of the RDF/XML tree and to map/convert it to what it
> actually "means" at the more abstract (purely) RDF level. This is a hard
> mental operation which requires a lot of *unnecessary* cognitive effort.
> Here, it is more the HCI research scientist part of myself who talks,
> but I believe this to be something that should be taken into account.

I don't disagree, and like everyone around these parts have run into
people with serious misapprehensions derived from the RDF/XML tree
representation. Ok, RDF/XML+XSLT is certainly not a good approach to
RDF in the general case. But I also think it would be a mistake to go
too far in the opposite direction, and imply that you can't do
anything useful with this approach. This may lead to another
misapprehension, that RDF and XML technologies are somehow mutually



Received on Tue Apr 26 2005 - 10:01:51 EDT

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