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Building a semantic website


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A simple tutorial introducing methods and technologies used to build semantic websites, and why you should want to.

A simple tutorial introducing methods and technologies used to build semantic websites, and why you should want to.

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  • 1. Build a semantic web website
  • 2. What is the semantic web?
    • It is a very powerful way to access information on the web.
      • It is a “web of data” where everything is linked in.
      • It allows applications to “talk to each other”, reusing and sharing this data.
      • The data is shared via a common web architecture (e.g.URI's)
      • Relationships in the data are created by tools and some are also created manually.
      • Thus machines can interact with data and humans can access far more accurate and useful data.
  • 3. How is it useful in practise?
    • You could not only access your photos, calendar, diary and so on, but also have relevant photos appear when you look at a specific event in your calendar
    • You could be writing a document and you could ask for other documents that you want to reference without having to look for them.
    • You can do a search and share that data with a friend or colleague, and relevant additional information that is relevant would be available to you both.
  • 4. Why does this matter to my site?
    • Without semantic mark-up, databases, ontologies and so on, your site cannot be picked up by engines like Google and others able to use semantic elements.
    • Your site would then not get the visibility it deserves and could have.
    • Your competitors may have prepped their site already and although you show #1 in the rankings, they are have more pulling power than you do.
    • Mozilla are deploying a whole host of RDF tools
  • 5. How does it work?
    • Instead of using hyperlinks to link documents, the SW can be linked to any 2 resources (not just one document). This is achieved using RDF, OWL, SKOS.
    • These allow you to describe documents, resources, people, categories, anything you like, in a machine readable way.
    • RDF also provides an XML based syntax.
    • These are linked by URI's
  • 6. Example RDF
    • It's about Bob Dylan (from W3C schools)
  • 7. Example OWL
    • This the famous “Koala Bear” example - “ Wine ” is
    • very thorough and a good tutorial though.
  • 8. Example SKOS
    • “ Single knowledge organisation system reference”
    • From
  • 9. GRDDL
    • It stands for “Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Language”.
    • It allows RDF triples to be extracted from XML documents like XHTML which is often used as an example.
    • GRDDL transformations can be attached to XML documents.
    • The output of that is an RDF representation of the data and it can be queried using SPARQL (don't worry, it's covered a few slides on)
    • There is a full example of GRDDL at W3C .
  • 10. RDFa
    • It stands for “Resource Description Framework- in-attributes” and it extends XHTML.
    • It uses attributes from XHTML to allow you to tag everything up for semantic stuff.
    • It extracts RDF triples using a mapping method.
    • It allows for the data to be easily visible to humans and to machines, as the HTML and RDF are self-contained (separate).
    • Data is reusable. Non-duplicated, and each site can have its own standards.
    • See W3C for a good primer and examples.
  • 11. URI's
    • URIs are the Nouns (Uniform Resource Identifier)
    • HTTP is the Verbs (GET, PUT, POST)
    • The URI as you may know is used for “mailto:”, “http:” and so on (used to be called URL).
    • They are used to access representations of resources.
    • URIs give RDF identifiers so statements can be made about statements.
  • 12. Example URI
    • In N-Triple format (Plain text MIME format – represents the “correct” answers for parsing RDF)
      • <Bananas><are><yellow>
      • In URI format (the RDF is appended):
      • rdfuri:%3cBananas%3e%20%3are%3e%20%3cyellow%3e%20
      • There is a full list of official URI schemes to use here .
  • 13. SPARQL
    • It stands for “SPARQL Protocol And RDF Query Language” pronounced “Sparkle”.
    • It's like an SQL language especially made for the SW.
    • It's based on the RDF framework and uses WSDL (Web Services Description Language)
    • It has a query language, access protocol and the RDF data model.
    • It's basically a search engine for the SW.
  • 14. so...
    • You can retrieve data, as you would in a normal or even massive database using a relatively small application from the entire web.
    • You can query all comments, RSS feeds, images, FOAF, everything you might want want to all at the same time.
    • It's easy to code and very short too, even though it is very powerful
  • 15. SPARQL example
    • This is from Wiki Musicontology – see there for more examples.
  • 16. FOAF
    • This stands for “Friend Of A Friend”.
    • It allows you to create a file that sites with your website.
    • It is a machine readable social network where each profile has an individual URI.
    • In the FOAF file you state who you are connected to, which projects, any publications you've written, anything at all.
    • Their official site is here .
    • Also see Libby's blog here .
  • 17. Example FOAF
    • The vocab specification is here , example from
  • 18. There are tools to help you
    • Converter Tools:
      • - TopBraid (available as Eclipse Plugin)
      • - Put your Palm OS data into RDF
      • - MindSwap CSV to RDF
      • - FlickCurl – Flicker to RDF
      • - XML to RDF
      • - Manchester Uni Owl syntax converter
  • 19. And more...
    • Development environments:
        • - Protege opensource java tool
        • - Jena Java Famework
        • - The RDFeditor
        • - Altova from Semanticworks
        • - RDFe in Python
        • - Simplistic RDF editor
  • 20. And more...
    • RDF Generators:
      • - KWARC RDF extractor
      • - OpenCalais – superb
      • - Triplify plugin for applications
      • - Zemanta – I love it
      • - FOAF-Visualizer – to work with FOAF
      • - Foaf-o-matic to generate FOAF files
      • - Ruby RDF generator – for Ruby fans
  • 21. And more...
    • Extras:
      • - MOAT – meaning of a tag
      • - Amalgram – good for linguists
      • - Allegrograph RDF store
      • - BrownSauce RDF browser
      • - Conceptool - check your ontologies
      • - Fact++ is an OWL reasoner
      • - Add semantics to Excel
      • - IBM semantic Layered Resource Platform
      • And there are many many more...
  • 22. Tips
    • To put RDF into (X)HTML use RDFa which has an XHTML 1.1 module.
    • Use an RDF data browser to see RDF on the web such as Disco or OpenLink RDF – or a Firefox extension .
    • PingtheSemanticWeb is a good source of RDF all ready made and so is SchemaWeb
    • Oh and Dapper will semantify your site :)
  • 23. Links
    • Book: “The explorer's guide to the semantic web”
    • Book: A Semantic web guide
    • Book: “ Semantic web for the working ontologist ”
    • Book: “ The explorers guide to the semantic web
    • Tim Berners-Lee – Why RDF is different to XML
    • RDF core working group
    • IBM: Planning a semantic website
    • Stanford: Semantic website clustering