- 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: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #877,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Practical RDF 1st Edition
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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 http://burningbird.net, and her weblog is Burningbird, at http://weblog.burningbird.net.
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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). As with most programming books, online documentation from open source tools are likely to be far more useful.
When you want to learn about a largish subject, buy a book. When you want to program, there's no substitute for writing code.
In sum, if there was a book that better educates the uninitiated to RDF, I would mention it here. But I haven't found one, and of course I'm hopeful that someone will write it. Until then, Practical RDF is the best of the pack.
Bottom line - use [...] while reading or buy a supplemental reference.
Sort of like looking up a word in the dictionary and having a recursive definition.
The first section of this book (Chapter 1 through Chapter 6) focuses on the RDF specifications. Chapter 1 focuses on introducing RDF, but more than that, it also looks at some of the historical events leading up to the current RDF effort. In addition, this chapter also looks at issues of when you would, and would not, use RDF/XML as compared to "standard" XML.
Following the introductory chapter, the rest of the first section covers the RDF specification documents themselves. This includes coverage of the RDF Semantics and Concepts and Abstract Model specifications in Chapter 2; the basic XML syntax in Chapter 3; coverage of some of the more unusual RDF constructs--containers, collections, and reification in Chapter 4; and the RDF Schema in Chapter 5. As a way of pulling all of the coverage together, Chapter 6 then uses all you've learned about RDF to that point to create a relatively complex vocabulary, which is then used for demonstration purposes throughout the rest of the book.
The second section of the book focuses on programming language support, as well as the tools and utilities that allow a person to review, edit, parse, and generally work with RDF/XML. Chapter 7 focuses on various RDF editors, including those with graphical support for creating RDF models. In addition, the chapter also covers an RDF/XML browser, as well as a couple of the more popular RDF/XML parsers.
To be useful, any specification related to data requires tools to work with the data, and RDF is no exception. Chapter 8 provides an overview and examples of accessing and generating RDF/XML using Jena, a Java-based RDF API. Chapter 9 covers APIs that are based in PHP, Perl, and Python.
After the programming language grounding, the book refocuses on RDF's data roots with a chapter that examines some of the RDF query languages used to query RDF model data, in a database or as persisted to RDF/XML documents. Chapter 10 also has the code for the RDF Query-O-Matic, a utility that processes RDQL (RDF Query Language) queries. The last chapter in the second section finishes the review of programming and framework support for RDF by looking at some other programming language support, as well as some of the frameworks, such as Redland and Redfoot.
The last section of the book then focuses on the use of RDF and RDF/XML, beginning with an overview of the W3C's ontology language effort, OWL. If RDF is analogous to the relational data model, and RDF/XML is analogous to relational database systems, then OWL is equivalent to applications such as SAP and PeopleSoft, which implement a business domain model on top of the relational store.
The next chapter focuses on RSS, the implementation of RDF/XML most widely used, which supports syndication and aggregation of news sources. RSS is used to syndicate news sources as diverse as Salon and Wired, as well as online personal journals known as weblogs, a web technology gaining popularity.
A specification is only as good as the applications that use it, and RDF is used in a surprising number of sophisticated commercial and noncommercial applications. I say "surprising" primarily because RDF is not a well-known specification. However, it is one of the older specifications, and this is a good guide to it.