SPARQL: RDF data access for Web 2.0

May 27th, 2006

SPARQL logo

Leigh Dodds of Ingenta gave a great talk at XTech that convinced me that SPARQL is more significant than I had realized. Leigh’s premise is that

“Backed by the flexibility of the RDF data model, and consisting of both a query language and data access protocol SPARQL has the potential to become a key component in Web 2.0 applications. SPARQL could provide a common query language for all Web 2.0 applications.”

I think that this could pave the way for widespread use of RDF data and hence the larger Semantic Web vision.

Leigh’s paper and presentation slides are available online.

His presentation included some interesting examples of how to use a SPARQL sever to easily extract and format data from RDF documents, such as RSS feeds, FOAF documents, photo sharing sites, or the BBC Programme Catalogue. The approach seems eminently practical, with software packages in many languages and good examples of client-side AJAX processing of SPARQL query results. I also learned about JSON, the lightweight data-interchange format that is easy for people to read and write and for programs (including javascript) to process. The new version of ARQ supports JSON, so it looks like the pieces are all there to promote easy experimentation.