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Practical RDF 1st Edition

19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596002633
ISBN-10: 0596002637
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Shelley Powers is an independent contractor, currently living in St. Louis, who specializes in technology architecture and software development. She's authored several computer books, including Developing ASP Components, Unix Power Tools 3rd edition, Essential Blogging, and Practical RDF. In addition, Shelley has also written several articles related primarily to web technology, many for O'Reilly. Shelley's web site network is at, and her weblog is Burningbird, at


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 331 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1st edition (July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596002637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596002633
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,075,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Plain. Writer.

Shelley Powers has been working with, and writing about, web technologies--from the first release of JavaScript to the latest graphics and design tools--for more than 15 years. Her recent O'Reilly books have covered JavaScript, Node, and HTML5.

In addition to her writing on technology, Shelley is expanding her writing to other topic areas, including sustainable agriculture, food safety, environmentalism, animal welfare, and combating corporate front groups.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Normally, I like O'Reilly books. I've probably bought over 50 of them over the years. This one, however, is not up to their usual standards. While the subject, RDF, is interesting and I feel that the pace and content of the book are good. I find that there are so many typographical errors in the book - at least in the copy that I have - that it takes more effort to figure out what it is that the author means, as opposed to what the text is actually saying, than it's worth. There are places where the text contains contradictions, there are places where the examples are incorrect, and there are places where the information presented is downright wrong. I do not feel that the fault is solely the author's, nor do I feel that the fault lies solely with O'Reilly's editors. But what could have been a good, informative book has been brought low by a lack of proofreading.
If you're really interested in RDF, you may well do better by going to the W3C web site and reading the specifications there than by reading this book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Yuri A. Baranov on December 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I would to have a printed source of information to RDF concepts and syntax. Also, I hoped to see some examples and ideas of RDF applications beyound of the (in)famous Semantic Web.

My expectations were fulfilled only partially.

First, the book was somewhat difficult to read because of typos and discrepancies e.g. between RDF examples and figures of graphs that were generated from them.

Only one application of RDF is shown in good detail through the book: PostCon vocabulary/schema developed by the author herself.

RSS is covered in a separate chapter, but I would not reccomend Practical RDF for somebody who wants to get an introduction to RSS technology - version 2.0 of RSS being not RDF-based is not covered in the book.

I agree with the author that RDF technology has a huge potential, but this declaration is not proved by most of this book's examples.

Tools and applications are only described briefly in getting started guide style - I would rather go google for up-to-date version of the same info.

Also, there is little fun found reading that book. Style is rather dull - not unlike the style I use in this review, but extended to 300+ pages.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A close reader on January 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
There's a lot of information in this book, and there's really no alternative source for much of it. The RDF spec kept changing while this book was being written, which accounts for how some of the inconsistencies and inaccuracies got into the text.

However, it wasn't proofreading that should have caught these problems but the technical reviewers. They flat fell down on the job. On page 20, for instance, the text says that "in all instances of RDF graphs I've seen, [the direction of the arrows] is from right to left." Right below it, and in all the graphs in the book and in all RDF graphs that _I_ have seen, they point from left to right.

Or on page 41, the text says "a blank node is represented by an oval (it is a resource)" and in all the book's figures, blank nodes are represented by rectangles. Many other such maddening inconsistencies occur between the text and the figures and examples, which frustrates someone trying to learn what's going on.

Every writer gets some things wrong, and it's up to the publisher and its tech review to catch and correct them. Powers may have written uninspiredly and slipped up in her revising, but it's O'Reilly and the four people who provided technical review that is more at fault for the problems.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jack D. Herrington on March 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
For a book about 'practical' RDF this book is mainly about theory. The book doesn't get into applications until chapter 10 and it's coverage of the RSS applications is pretty minor. However, there are some good points. The XML examples are highlighted, which makes them very easy to read. The tough subject matter, meta data about meta data, is well covered in-depth.
I gave it four stars because it is merely mis-titled. The first ten chapters do a solid job, with excellent graphics, explaining RDF. So if you are looking for an general RDF book, you have probably come to the right place. If you are looking for a book to explain why your blog's RSS doesn't validate, you shouldn't buy into the practical title, or this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Terris Linenbach on March 31, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is Practical RDF and not "Progamming with RDF (with examples)". Yes, you can find all of the information in this book by searching the Internet. The point is that your results will vary based on who you, how much time you have at your disposal, which day it is, and whether your phone is about to ring.

What Powers and the editors have done in Practical RDF is put the most relevant information (available at the time) in one place, with the typical advantages and disadvantages of a book, such as, you don't need an internet connection, it's operating system neutral, you can make notes in it, it's easy to put down and return to, etc..

I spent the last month researching RDF online. After all that work, I frankly didn't learn much from the book. However, I could have saved myself a lot of time had the book arrived at my door earlier.

We in the information business know how hard it is for our colleagues to embrace semi-new technology. Having a (or several) copy of this bookoin your bookshelf can save you loads of breath. Most people don't take well to "go do your own research." This book contains the research on RDF and is therefore indispensable for all except those who are fortunate enough to work independently.

As noted in other reviews, there are areas for improvement. The technology has advanced since 2003. The original text was probably rushed. This book is due for a second revision, perhaps with more focus on OWL and inference (e.g., take the cwm out for a spin).

For those seeking programming grit, the problem is very similar to programming with XML: which platform, language, and tools do you choose? With XML and RDF, many cross-platform tools exist (Jena, Sesame, Redland).
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