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January 18, 2005

Sparqling RDF, and Querying in IMS

I notice that W3C has released a draft for the SPARQL protocol specification, which is a service protocol for the SPARQL query language for RDF. I've been doing quite a bit with RDF lately using Python, so I'll probably get around to reading it at some point.

I'm currently involved in a working group in IMS looking at querying; primarily this has focussed on efforts such as the SRU and SRW search protocols, and the SQI query API. I'm guessing that SPARQL (both query language and service protocol) will be too RDF-specific for consideration as a generic query system - like XQuery and SQL and unlike CQL/SRW/SQI.

Its actually very difficult to abstract the semantics of query away from the storage medium, such that a remote querying agent can transmit search parameters without necessarily understanding the physical structure of the data at the receiving end - which is why most efforts to date have focussed on very simple keyword-based searches.

Luckily the library community have done this for a long time using z39.50, CQL, zeeRex and so on, and we've been able to draw on a lot of that practical expertise. Hopefully I'll have more to report after the IMS meetings in Melbourne next month.

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