IEEE IC Special Issue is Out

by Chimezie Ogbuji

Ogbuji, Chimezie;   Gomadam, Karthik;   Petrie, Charles;  
Case Western Reserve University 

This paper appears in: Internet Computing, IEEE
Issue Date: July-Aug. 2011
Volume: 15 Issue:4
On page(s): 10 - 13
ISSN: 1089-7801
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/MIC.2011.99 
Date of Current Version: 2011-06-30 10:41:12.0
Sponsored by: IEEE Computer Society 


Contemporary Web-based architectures can help address the technological and architectural challenges inherent to modern personal health record (PHR) systems. Current research in the area of healthcare informatics has focused on incorporating Web-based technology for PHR systems' primary functions. This special issue presents work in this area of research.


I received my complementary copy of this IEEE IC with the special issue on Personal Health Records that I was guest editor for. It turned out well in the end.

GRDDL: A Knowledge Rrepresentation Architectural Style? - part one

Yay. GRDDL is now a W3C Recommendation!

I'm very proud to be a part of that and there is alot about this particular architectural style that I have always wanted to write about. I recently came upon the opportunity to consider one particular facet.

This is why it seems the same as with GRDDL. There are tranformations you can make, but they are not entailments in a logic, they just go from one graph to a different graph.

Yes, that is one part of the larger framework that is well considered. GRDDL does not rely on logical entaiment for its normative definition. It is defined operationally, but can also be described via declarative (formal) semantics. It defines a mapping (not a function in the true sense - the specification clearly identifies ambiguity at the level of the infoset) from an XML representation of an "information resource" to a typed RDF representation of the same "information resource". The output is required to have a well-defined mapping of its own into the RDF abstract syntax.

The less formal definition uses a dialect of Notation 3 that is a bit more expressive than Datalog Logic Programming (it uses function symbols - builtins - in some of the clauses ). The proof at the bottom of that page justifies the assertion that has a GRDDL result which is composed entirely of the following RDF statement:

<> is named "Are You Experienced?" .

Frankly, I would have gone with "Bold as Love", myself =)

Once you have a (mostly) well-defined function for rendering RDF from information resources, you enable the deployment of useful ( and re-usable ) interpretations for intelligent agents (more on these later). For example, the test suite, is a large semantic web of XML documents that GRDDL-aware agents can traverse, performing Quality Assurance tests (using EARL) of their conformance to the operational semantics of GRDDL.

However, it was very important to leave entailment out of the equation until it serves a justifiable purpose. For example, a well-designed RDF querying language does not require logical entailment (RDF, RDFS, OWL, or otherwise) for it to be useful in the general case. You can calculate a closure (or Herbrand base) and then dispatch structural graph queries. This was always true with Versa. You can glean (pun intended) quite a bit from only the structural nature of a Graph. A whole generation of graph theoretical literature demonstrates this.

In addition, once you have a well-defined set of semantics for identifying information resources with RDF assertions that are (logically) relevant to the closure, you have a clear seperation between manipulation of surface syntax and full-blown logical reasoning systems.

It should be considered a semantic web architectural style (if you will) to constrain the use of entailment to only where it has some demonstrated value to the problem space. Where it makes sense to use entailment, however, you will find the representations are well-engineered for the task.

Chimezie Ogbuji

via Copia

One Bad Apple Spoiling the Bunch

When you quantify how much leverage has been given to vendor politics over common sense, XHTML is the epitome of where the marriage of validity and well-formedness did much more harm than good. To this day, I do not understand why even well-informed people believe there is no value in XML without validation. For me, the sad story that is (or was?) XHTML says it all, even much more loudly than evidence of the same dowry being paid by the next generation of XML standards and WS-*

[Uche Ogbuji]

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The new MacBook Pro

I ended up changing my return flight from Chicago to Denver because of the chaos from last week's huge snow-storm. By the time I got back early yesterday morning all seemed back to normal--and FedEx had attempted three deliveries of my new MacBook Pro. I went to pick it up yesterday, and when he handed me the package I peered suspiciously at the label as I hefted it, amazed at its small size and lightness. I was used to my Dells coming in near-cubic-meter boxes with respectable weight. The label seemed to be right, but I opened the package in the car, anyway. Inside I found an even more svelte box, with the unmistakable goods. Consumer Reports won't be dishing out a Golden Cocoon award to Apple any time soon, and that's a very good thing. I took a few pictures too (see below) of the out-of-box-experience, using my Dell Inspiron 8600 for comparison. The MacBook is much thinner and a bit lighter, and about the same in the other dimensions, despite having a 17" widescreen to the Dell's 15". I just hope I won't miss the Dell's WUXGA resolution too dearly.

My first moves were to install Firefox and Thunderbird. I've done a lot of research while waiting for the new computer and Tim's and Mark's public repudiation of some of the more proprietary aspects of Mac's bundled tools resonated strongly with me. The arguments that Mozilla interfaces were non-Aqua and thus ugly are completely uninteresting to me. I don't subscribe to the school of thought that only Apple is capable of good interface design. More importantly, I've used Safari and quite a bit, and I don't really like their UI. I personally find them rather patronizing. In the end, the only reason I made the switch to Mac is that I've come to believe that I can make My Mac serve me, rather than turning me into a servant of The Great Mac Cause. Being able to install cross-platform tools for my basic work was a bit like erecting my flag of independence, to be a bit florid. Anyway I considered Camino but the incompatibility with FF extensions, including the likes of ScrapBook and Web developer tools was a show-stopper for me. I might still install Camino and even Flock. I'm all for browser polygamy.

The next thing I grabbed was Virtue Desktops (Thanks, Graham). Sorry but I can't work with all my windows crammed into one room. It seems Apple realizes the need for these as well, and is preparing the feature for Leopard. Unfortunately Virtue, and AFAICT Apple Spaces are far more limited than virtual desktop technology I'm used to. They work on the principle that each app is assigned to a "space", rather than each window. So my usual setup of having a set of Firefox windows with tabs for regular browsing, and another for client-related browsing, and another for OSS work isn't supported. I can probably get around this for browsing by using a few different browser apps, but I think this will be a real problem in the case of iTerm. I usually have a terminal window or two in each of my "spaces". I also need to find some more keyboard shortcuts for Virtue. shift-tab...arrow keys...enter is a tad too much.

I grabbed iTerm right away because I need tabs. I did find WidgetTerm, a neat Dashboard version of iTerm (no tabs, though). Dashboard is slick. I can't wait till I have some time to go hunting for widgets, and maybe even hacking up some of my own. Hope I can do so in Python.

I chose Vienna as Web feed reader. I'd have been OK paying for NetNewswire, but not on all their dubious terms . I need to quickly figure out IRC and IM (Jabber, AIM and Yahoo), and I'm finding this a bit of a murky area. AdiumX gets some great notices but some of my colleagues warned me of it because of some lingering show-stopper bugs. I'd also love to have IRC and IM in the same app. I'm guessing I'll end up trying a bunch of stuff to find what works for me. Oh well. I'm also presently trying to work out ssh-agent. I found this resource I plan to try. Then will come the hard part: my development set up. I'll be looking for an overview of Python and C dev tools on the Mac, preferably one that evaluates a broad variety of options. I think I'm going to try giving up emacs again, so I'll be checking out good stand-alone text editors. I might even go as far as trying an IDE or two. I got great advice on dev setup in comments to "Time for Mac".

A couple of annoyances I'll have to research more are lack of right click on the touchpad and an occasional disappearing mouse cursor. We ordered Lori's Intel Mac with a wireless keyboard and its mouse had right click as well as a very neat scroll button. I hope I won't be forced to use an external mouse on my notebook: I hate holding down ctrl for context menu. And sometimes the mouse cursor seems to disappear for a second or two. I'm trying to narrow down what triggers this. It's not a huge deal, but sometimes an annoying obstacle.

All in all I'm getting a god vibe about my choice. If nothing else, the energy that comes from shaking up my routine is refreshing. Thanks to all who have given such useful advice, either directly to me, or in the many general, on-line resources.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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Why JSON vs XML is a yawn

Strange spate of discussion recently about XML vs. JSON. On M. David Peterson's Weblog he states what I think is the obvious: there is no serious battle between XML and JSON. They're entirely complementary. Mike Champion responds:

The same quite rational response could be given about the "war" between WS-* and REST, but that has caused quintillions of electrons to change state in vain for the last 5 years or so. The fact remains that some people with a strong attachment to a given technology howl when it is declared to be less than universal. I completely agree that the metaphor of "keep a healthy tool chest and use the right one for the job at hand" is the appropriate response to all these "wars", but such boring pragmatism doesn't get Diggs or Pagerank.

If I may be so bold as to assume that "pragmatism" includes in some aspect of its definition "that which works", I see a bit of a "one of these things is not like the other" game (sing along, Sesame Street kids) in Mike's comparison.

  • XML - works
  • JSON - works
  • REST - works
  • WS-Kaleidoscope - are you kidding me?

Some people claim that the last entry works, but I've never seen any evidence beyond the "it happened to my sister's boyfriend's roomate's cousin" variety. On the other hand, by the time you click through any ten Web sites you probably have hard evidence that the other three work, and in the case of REST you have that evidence by the time you get to your first site.

For my part, I'm a big XML cheerleader, but JSON is great because it gives people a place to go when XML isn't really right. There are many such places, as I've often said ("Should Python and XML Coexist?", "Alternatives to XML", etc.) Folks tried from the beginning to make XML right for data as well as documents, and even though I think the effort made XML more useful than its predecessors, I think it's clear folks never entirely succeeded. XML is much better suited to documents and text than records and data. The effort to make it more suitable for data leads to the unfortunate likes of WXS (good thing there's RELAX NG) and RDF/XML (good thing there's Turtle). Just think about it: XQuery for JSON. Wouldn't it be so much simpler and cleaner than our XQuery for XML? Heck, wouldn't it be pretty much...SQL?

That having been said there is one area where I see some benefit to XQuery. Mixed-mode data/document storage is inevitable given XML's impressive penetration. XQuery could be a thin layer for extracting data feeds from these mixed-mode stores, which can then be processed using JSON. If the XQuery layer could be kept thin enough, and I think a good architect can ensure this, the result could be a very neat integration. If I had ab initio control over such a system my preference would be schema annotations and super-simple RDF for data/document integration. After all, that's a space I've been working in for years now, and it is what I expect to focus on at Kadomo. But I don't expect to always be so lucky. Then again, DITA is close enough to that vision that I can be hopeful people are starting to get it, just as I'm grateful that the development of GRDDL means that people in the Semantic Web community are also starting to get it.

On the running code front I've been working on practical ways of working nicely with XML and JSON in tandem. The topic has pervaded several aspects of my professional work all at once in the past few months, and I expect to have a lot of code examples and tools to discuss here on Copia soon.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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From Fourthought to Kadomo

I founded Fourthought in June, 1998 with three other friends from college. Eight and a half years doesn't sound that long when I say it, but the near-decade fills my rear view mirror so completely that I can scarcely remember having done anything before it. That's probably a good thing as it means I don't much remember the years of perfunctory consulting at places such as IBM Global Services and Sabre Decision Technologies prior to making the leap to relative independence. It was in part the typical entrepreneurial yen of the immigrant and in part the urge to chart my own high-tech career course that drove me to take the risk and endure the ups and downs of running a consultancy.

And I did say Fourthought is in the rear-view mirror. Last week I accepted a position at The Kadomo Group, a very young solutions company focused in the semantic Web space. Kadomo was founded by Eric miller, former Semantic Web Activity Lead at the W3C. Eric and I have always looked for ways we could work together considering our shared interest in how strategic elements of the semantic Web vision can be brought to bear in practice. He and the other bright and energetic folks coming together under the Kadomo banner were a major part of my decision to join. It was also made clear to me that I would have a sizeable role in shaping all aspects of the company. I would be able, and in fact encouraged to continue my leadership in open source projects and community specification development. Last but not least the culture of the company is set up to suit my lifestyle very well, which was always one tremendous benefit of Fourthought.

--> Without a doubt we have the seeds at Kadomo to grow something much greater than Fourthought was ever likely to be. The company has not neglected resources for high-caliber business development, operations nor marketing. Committing to these resources was something we always had a hard time doing at Fourthought, and this meant that even though we had brilliant personnel, strong client references and a market profile disproportionate to the resources we devoted to marketing, we were never able to grow at a fraction of our potential. I've learned many of these lessons the hard way, and it seems clearly to me that Kadomo is born to greater ambition. One good sign is that I'll just be Chief Technical architect, allowed to focus primarily on the company's technology strategy. I will not be stranded juggling primary sales, operations as well as lead consultant responsibilities. Another good sign is that product development is woven into the company's foundation, so I can look forward to greater leverage of small-company resources.

Considering my primary responsibility for technology strategy it may seem strange to some that I'd join a semantic Web company, knowing
that I have expressed such skepticism of the direction core semantic Web technology has taken lately. I soured on the heaping helping of gobbledygook that was laden on RDF in the post-2000 round of specs, I soured on SPARQL as a query language when it became clear that it was to be as ugly and inelegant as XQuery. There have been some bright spots of lightweight goodness such as GRDDL and SKOS but overall, I've found myself more and more focused on XML schema and transform technology. My departure point for the past few years has been that a well-annotated syntactic Web can meet all the goals I personally have for the semantic Web. I've always been pretty modest in what I want from semantics on the Web. To put it bluntly what interests me most is reducing the cost of screen-scraping. Of course, as I prove every day in my day job, even such an unfashionable goal leads to the sorts of valuable techniques that people prefer to buzz about using terms such as "enterprise mashups". Not that I begrudge folks their buzzwords, mind you.

I still think some simplified version or profile of RDF can be very useful, and I'll be doing what I can to promote a pragmatic approach to semantic Web at Kadomo, building on the mountains of XML that vendors have winked and nodded into IT and the Web, much of it a hopeless congeries. There is a ton of problem in this space, and I believe, accordingly, a ton of opportunity. I think mixing in my somewhat diffractive view of semantic Web will make for interesting discussion at Kadomo, and a lot of that will be reflected here on Copia, which, after all, I share with Chimezie, one of the most accomplished users of semantic Web technology to solve real-world problems.

One ongoing opportunity I don't plan to leave behind is my strong working relationship with the Web Platform Engineering group at Sun. With recent, hard-earned success in hand, and much yet to accomplish, we're navigating the paper trail to allow for a smooth transition from my services as a Fourthought representative to those as a Kadomo representative.

I hope some of you will consider contacting Kadomo to learn more about our services and solutions. We're just getting off the ground but we have a surprising amount of structure in place for bringing focus to our service offerings, and we have some exciting products in development of which you'll soon be hearing more. If you've found my writings useful or examples of my work agreeable, do keep me in mind as I plough into my new role.keep in touch-->.

Updated to reflect the final settling into Zepheira.  Most other bits are still relevant

[Uche Ogbuji]

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Atom Feed Semantics

Not a lot of people outside the core Semantic Web community actually want to create RDF, but extracting it from what's already there can be useful for a wide variety of projects. (RSS and Atom are first and relatively easy steps that direction.)

Terminal dump

chimezie@Zion:~/devel/grddl-hg$ python --debug --output-format=n3 --zone=https:--ns=aowl= --ns=iana= --ns=some-blog=
binding foaf to
binding owl to
binding iana to
binding rdfs to
binding wot to
binding dc to
binding aowl to
binding rdf to
binding some-blog to
Attempting a comprehensive glean of
@@ignoring types: ('application/rdf+xml', 'application/xml', 'text/xml', 'application/xhtml+xml', 'text/html')
applying transformation
@@ignoring types: ('application/xml',)
Parsed 22 triples as Notation 3
Attempting a comprehensive glean of

Via atom2turtle_xslt-1.0.xslt and Atom OWL: The GRDDL result document:

@prefix aowl: <>.
@prefix iana: <>.
@prefix rdf: <>.
@prefix some-blog: <>.
[ a aowl:Feed;
     aowl:author [ a aowl:Person;
             aowl:name "John Doe"];
     aowl:entry [ a aowl:Entry;
             aowl:id "urn:uuid:1225c695-cfb8-4ebb-aaaa-80da344efa6a"^^<>;
             aowl:link [ a aowl:Link;
                     aowl:rel iana:alternate;
                     aowl:to [ aowl:src some-blog:atom03]];
             aowl:title "Atom-Powered Robots Run Amok";
             aowl:updated "2003-12-13T18:30:02Z"^^<>];
     aowl:id "urn:uuid:60a76c80-d399-11d9-b93C-0003939e0af6"^^<>;
     aowl:link [ a aowl:Link;
             aowl:rel iana:alternate;
             aowl:to [ aowl:src <>]];
     aowl:title "Example Feed";
     aowl:updated "2003-12-13T18:30:02Z"^^<>].

Planet Atom's feed

@prefix : <> .
 @prefix rdf: <> .
 @prefix rdfs: <> .
 @prefix foaf: <> .
 @prefix iana: <> .
 @prefix xsd: <> .
[] a :Feed ;
:id ""^^xsd:anyURI;
:title "Planet Atom" ;
:updated "2006-12-10T06:57:54.166890Z"^^xsd:dateTime;
:generator [ a :Generator;
            :uri <>;
            :generatorVersion "";
            :name """atomixlib"""];
 :entry [  a :Entry;
           :title "The Darfur Wall" ;
           :author [ a :Person; :name "James Tauber"] ;
           :link [ a :Link;
                     :rel iana:alternate ;
                     :to [ :src <>;]          
:updated "2006-12-10T00:13:34Z"^^xsd:dateTime;
:published "2006-12-10T00:13:34Z"^^xsd:dateTime;
:id ""^^xsd:anyURI; ]

[Uche Ogbuji]

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XML 2006 Synopsis: Are we there yet?

Well, XML 2006 came and went with a rather busy bang. My presentation on using XSLT to generate Xforms (from XUL/XHTML) was well attended and I hoped it helped increase awareness on the importance and value of XForms, (perhaps) the only comprehensive vehicle by which XML can be brought to the web in the way proponents of XML have had in mind for some time. As Simon puts it:

XML pretty (much) completely missed its original target market. SGML culture and web developer culture seemed like a poor fit on many levels, and I can't say I even remember a concerted effort to explain what XML might mean to web developers, or to ask them whether this new vision of the Web had much relationship to what they were doing or what they had planned. SGML/XML culture and web culture never really meshed.

Most of the questions I received had to do with our particular choice of FormsPlayer (an Internet Explorer plugin) instead of other alternatives such as Orbeon, Mozilla, Chiba, etc. This was a bit unfortunate and an indication of a much larger problem in this particular area of innovation we lovingly coin 'web 2.0'. I will get back to this later.

I was glad to hear John Boyer tell me he was pleasantly surprised to see mention of the Rich Web Application Backplane W3C Note. Mark Birbeck and Micah Dubinko (fellow XForms gurus and visionaries in their own rights) didn't let this pass over their radar, either.

I believe the vision outlined in that note is much more lucid than a lot of the hype-centered notions of 'web 2.0' which seem more focused on painting a picture of scattered buzzwords ('mash-ups', AJAX etc..) than commonalities between concrete architectures.

Though this architectural style accommodates solutions based on scripting (AJAX) as well as more declarative approaches, I believe the primary value is in freeing web developers from the 80% of scripting that is a result of not having an alternative (READ: browser vendor monopolies) than being the appropriate solution for the job. I've jousted with Kurt Kagle before on this topic and Mark Birkeck has written extensively on this as well.

In writing the presentation, I sort of stumbled upon some interesting observations about XUL and XForms:

  • XUL relies on a static, inarticulate means of binding components to their behavior
  • XForms relies on XPath for doing the same
  • XUL relies completely on javascript to define the behavior of it's widgets / components
  • A more complete mapping from XUL to XForms (than the one I composed for my talk) could be valuable to those more familiar with XUL as a bridge to XForms.

At the very least, it was a great way to familiarize myself with XUL.

In all, I left Boston feeling like I had experienced a very subtle anti-climax as far as innovation was concerned.
If I were to plot a graph of innovative progression over time, it would seem to me that the XML space has plateaued as of late and political in-fighting and spec proliferation has overtaken truly innovative ideas. I asked Harry Halpin about this and his take on it was that perhaps "XML has won". I think there is some truth to this, though I don't think XML has necessarily made the advances that were hoped in the web space (as Simon St. Laurent put it earlier).

There were a few exceptions however

XML Pipelines

I really enjoyed Norm Walsh's presentation on XProc and it was an example of scratching a very real itch: consensus on a vocabulary for XML processing workflows. Though, ironically, it probably wouldn't take much to implement in 4Suite as support for most (if not all) of the pipeline operations are already there.

I did ask Norm if XProc would support setting up XPath variables for operations that relied on them and was pleased to hear that they had that in mind. I also asked about support for non-standard XML operations such as XUpdate and was also pleased to hear that they had that covered as well. It was worth noting that XUpdate by itself could make the viewport operation rather redudant.

The Semantic Web Contingent

There was noticeable representation by semantic web enthusiasts (myself, Harry Halpin, Bob Ducharm, Norm Walsh, Elias Torres, Eric Prud'hommeux, Ralph Hodgson, etc..) and their presentations had somewhat subdued tones (perhaps) so as not to incite ravenous bickering from narrow-minded enthusiasts. There was still some of that however as I was asked by someone why RDF couldn't be persisted natively as XML, queried via XQuery, and inferred over via extension functions! Um... right... There is some irony in that as I have yet to find a legitimate reason myself to even use XQuery in the first place.

The common scenario is when you need to query across a collection of XML documents, but I've personally preferred to index XML documents with RDF content (extracted from a subset of the documents), match the documents via RDF, isolate a document and evaluate an XPath against it essentially bypassing the collection extension to XPath with a 'semantic' index. Ofcourse, this only makes sense where there is a viable mapping from XML to RDF, but where there is one I've preferred this approach. But to each his/her own..

Content Management API's

I was pleasantly surprised to learn from Joel Amousou that there is a standard (a datastore and language-agnostic? standard) for CMS APIs. called JSR-170. The 4Suite repository is the only Content Mangement System / API with a well though-out architecture for integrating XML & RDF persistence and processing in a way that emphasizes their strengths with regard to content management. Perhaps there is some merit in investigating the possibility of porting (or wrapping) the 4Suite repository API as JSR-170? Joel seems to think so.


Micheal Kay had a nice synopsis of the value of generating XSLT from XSLT – a novel mechanism I've been using for some time and it was interesting to note that one of his prior client projects involved a pipeline that started with an XForm, post-processed by XSLT and aggregated with results from an Xquery (also generated from XSLT).

Code generation is a valuable pattern that has plenty unrecognized value in the XML space and I was glad to see Micheal Kay highlight this. He had some choice words on when to use XSLT and when to use XQuery that I thought was on point: Use XSLT for re-purposing, formatting and use Xquery for querying your database.


Finally, I spent quite some time with Harry Halpin (chair of the GRDDL Working Group) helping him installing / using the 4Suite / RDFLib client I recently wrote for use with the GRDDL test suite. You can take what I say with a grain of salt (as I am a member and loud, vocal supporter), but I think that GRDDL will end up having the most influential impact in the semantic web vision (which I believe is much less important than the technological components it relies on to fulfill the vision) and XML adoption on the web than any other, primarily because it allows content publishers to leverage the full spectrum of both XML and RDF technologies.
Within my presentation, I mention an architectural style I call 'modality segregation' that captures the value proposition of XSLT for drawing sharp, distinguishable boundaries (where there were once none) between:

  • content
  • presentation
  • meaning (semantics)
  • application behavior

I believe it's a powerful idiom for managing, publishing, and consuming data & knowledge (especially over the web).

Harry demonstrated how easy it is to extract review data, vocabulary mappings, and social networks (the primary topic of his talk) from XHTML that would ordinarily be dormant with regards to everything other than presentation.
We ran into a few snafus with 4Suite when we tried to run Norm Walsh's hCard2RDF.xslt against Dan Connolleys web site and Harrys home page. We also ran into problems with the client (which is mostly compliant with the Working Draft).

I also had the chance to set Harry up with my blazingly fast RETE-based N3 reasoner, which we used to test GRDDL-based identity consolidation by piping multiple GRDDL results (from XHTML with embedded XFN) into the reasoner, performing an OWL DL closure, and identifying duplicate identities via Inverse Functional Properties (smushing)

As a result of our 5+ hour hackathon, I ended up writing 3 utilities that I hope to release once I find a proper place for them:

  • FOAFVisualizer - A command-line tool for merging and rendering FOAF networks in a 'controlled' and parameterized manner
  • RDFPiedPipe - A command-line tool for converting between the syntaxes that RDFLib supports: N3, Ntriples, RDF/XML
  • Kaleidos - A library used by FOAFVisualizer to control every aspect of how an RDF graph (or any other network structure) is exported to a graphviz diagram via BGL-Python bindings.

In the final analysis, I feel as if we have reached a climax in innovation only to face a bigger challenge from politics than anything else:

  • RDFa versus eRDF
  • SPARQL without entailment versus SPARQL with OWL entailment
  • XHTML versus HTML5
  • Web Forms versus XForms
  • Web 2.0 versus Web 3.0
  • AJAX versus XForms
  • XQuery versus XSLT
  • XQuery over RDF/XML versus SPARQL over abstract RDF
  • XML 1.0 specifications versus the new 2.0 specifications

The list goes on. I expressed my concerns about the danger of technological camp warefare to Liam Quin (XML Activity Lead) and he concurred. We should spend less time arguing over whether or not my spec is more l33t than yours and more time asking the more pragmatic questions about what solutions works best for the problem(s) at hand.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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New shopping cart features for

Weblogging has been pretty thin for me lately, as has everything else. for the past few months now I've been working on a large XML-driven integration project at Sun Microsystems. I consult as a data architect to the group that drives the main Web site, as well as product marketing pages and other data-driven venues. That's been a large part of my day job for the last four years, and in the most recent project Sun is working in a versatile new e-commerce engine. They put a lot of care into analysis for integrating this into existing product pages, so I found myself waist deep in XML pipeline architecture and data flows from numerous source systems (some XML, some ERP, some CMS and every other TLA you can fathom). The XML pipeline aggregates the sources according to a formal data model, the result of which feeds normalized XML data into the commerce back end. A veritable enterprise mash-up. It's been a lot of work, leavened by collaboration with a top-notch team, and with the launch last week of the new system I've found palpable reward.

Web Usability guru Martin Hardee, whose team put together the stringent design parameters for the project, mentioned the new feature this week.

We're already off building on this success, and it's more enterprise-grade (yeah, buzzword, sue me) XML modeling and pipeline-driven architecture with a global flavor for a good while to come, I expect. And probably not all that much time for Weblogging.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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Ubuntu Edgy, Firefox and Flash

One of the things I noticed upon upgrade to Edgy is that I'd lost Flash support in Firefox. I wish I could say that I had no need for Adobe/Macromedia's crap, but I can't. For one thing, I often make musical discoveries on MySpace pages--my musical interests tend towards the underground. I set about this evening getting Flash working again, and it was harder than I expected. Recently MySpace switched to Flash 9 (punks!) and I decided to use the version 9 beta bone that Adobe tossed to the Linux community. I found that the nonfree virtual Flash package had ben removed, so I restored it:

sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree

The plan would be to just copy the from Flash 9 beta over the installed version 7. BTW the Flash 7 file was 2MB and the Flash 9 Beta file is almost 7MB. Might be debugging info or something, but yeesh!

Anyway, even before copying the Flash 9 beta I found that Firefox was crashing every time it loaded a Flash site. After some hunting I found a bug with Ubuntu Edgy and either version of the Flash plugin. There are several workarounds mentioned in that thread, but one of them is simply to bump up color depth to 24 bits. I hadn't even known Edgy had limited me to 16 bits, but surely enough I checked my /etc/X11/xorg.conf:

Section "Screen"
    Identifier      "Default Screen"
    Device          "NVIDIA Corporation NV34M [GeForce FX Go 5200]"
    Monitor         "Generic Monitor"
    DefaultDepth    16

I changed that from 16 to 24, restarted X, and all has been well since then. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, speaking of music on MySpace, here's my brother's crew, StrawHat BentLow.

...your best advice is look for the hat...

See also: "On Huck, Hip Hop, and Expression"

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia