RDFa

Web Components: Even Better With Semantic Markup

W3C LogoThe W3C’s Web Components model is positioned to solve many of the problems that beset web developers today. “Developers are longing for the ability to have reusable, declarative, expressive components,” says Brian Sletten, a specialist in semantic web and next-generation technologies, software architecture, API design, software development and security, and data science, and president of software consultancy Bosatsu Consulting, Inc.

Web Components should fulfill that longing: With Templates, Custom Elements, Shadow DOM, and Imports draft specifications (and thus still subject to change), developers get a set of specifications for creating their web applications and elements as a set of reusable components. While most browsers don’t yet support these specifications, there are Web Component projects like Polymer that enable developers who want to start taking advantage of these capabilities right away to build Web objects and applications atop the specs today.

“With this kind of structure in place, now there is a market for people to create components that can be reused across any HTML-based application or document,” Sletten says. “There will be an explosion of people building reusable components so that you and I can use those elements and don’t have to write a ton of obnoxious JavaScript to do certain things.”

That in itself is exciting, Sletten says, but even more so is the connection he made that semantic markup can be added to any web component.

Read more

W3C Announces Three New RDFa Recommendations

World Wide Web Consortium logoThe W3C announced today that three specifications have reached recommendation status:

HTML+RDFa 1.1:
http://www.w3.org/TR/2013/REC-html-rdfa-20130822/

RDFa 1.1 Core – Second Edition
http://www.w3.org/TR/2013/REC-rdfa-core-20130822/

XHTML+RDFa 1.1 – Second Edition
http://www.w3.org/TR/2013/REC-xhtml-rdfa-20130822/

As the W3C website explains, “The last couple of years have witnessed a fascinating evolution: while the Web was initially built predominantly for human consumption, web content is increasingly consumed by machines which expect some amount of structured data. Sites have started to identify a page’s title, content type, and preview image to provide appropriate information in a user’s newsfeed when she clicks the ‘Like’ button. Search engines have started to provide richer search results by extracting fine-grained structured details from the Web pages they crawl. In turn, web publishers are producing increasing amounts of structured data within their Web content to improve their standing with search engines.”

“A key enabling technology behind these developments is the ability to add structured data to HTML pages directly. RDFa (Resource Description Framework in Attributes) is a technique that allows just that: it provides a set of markup attributes to augment the visual information on the Web with machine-readable hints. ”

Manu Sporny, the editor of the HTML+RDFa 1.1 specification, told us that, “The release of RDFa 1.1 for HTML5 establishes it as the first HTML-based Linked Data technology to achieve recognition as an official Web standard by the World Wide Web Consortium.” Read more

Vertex Worldwide Launches New Web Presence for RainVac

RainVac has just launched a new web site, which they claim is the most advanced site on the Internet, utilizing fully compliant Semantic technologies and displaying on all devices. Vertex Worldwide, Inc. announced today that their RainVac division’s new web site has been launched, incorporating all the latest technologies to provide users with an ideal experience. The site makes extensive use of XHTML+RDFa technology, making it state-of-the-art in terms of rapidly developing semantic search capabilities. Read more

The Impact of RDFa

Gregg Turner of Blue Claw Search recently discussed the impact of RDFa format data and why developers should implement it. Turner writes, “Rich snippets have become a lot more prominent within the SERPS over the past couple of years, with appealing, feature-rich listings becoming a more and more commonplace. Google refers to these enhanced search listings as “Rich Snippets”, and from a search marketing perspective they are often more appealing to users and increase Click Through Rates (CTR).” Read more

Good-Bye to 2012: Continuing Our Look Back At The Year In Semantic Tech

Courtesy: Flickr/LadyDragonflyCC <3

Yesterday we began our look back at the year in semantic technology here. Today we continue with more expert commentary on the year in review:

Ivan Herman, W3C Semantic Web Activity Lead:

I would mention two things (among many, of course).

  •  Schema.org had an important effect on semantic technologies. Of course, it is controversial (role of one major vocabulary and its relations to others, the community discussions on the syntax, etc.), but I would rather concentrate on the positive aspects. A few years ago the topic of discussion was whether having ‘structured data’, as it is referred to (I would simply say having RDF in some syntax or other), as part of a Web page makes sense or not. There were fairly passionate discussions about this and many were convinced that doing that would not make any sense, there is no use case for it, authors would not use it and could not deal with it, etc. Well, this discussion is over. Structured data in Web sites is here to stay, it is important, and has become part of the Web landscape. Schema.org’s contribution in this respect is very important; the discussions and disagreements I referred to are minor and transient compared to the success. And 2012 was the year when this issue was finally closed.
  •  On a very different aspect (and motivated by my own personal interest) I see exciting moves in the library and the digital publishing world. Many libraries recognize the power of linked data as adopted by libraries, of the value of standard cataloging techniques well adapted to linked data, of the role of metadata, in the form of linked data, adopted by journals and soon by electronic books… All these will have a profound influence bringing a huge amount of very valuable data onto the Web of Data, linking to sources of accumulated human knowledge. I have witnessed different aspects of this evolution coming to the fore in 2012, and I think this will become very important in the years to come.

Read more

Good-Bye to 2012: A Look Back At The Year In Semantic Tech, Part 1

Courtesy: Flickr/zoetnet

As we close out 2012, we’ve asked some semantic tech experts to give us their take on the year that was. Was Big Data a boon for the semantic web, or is the opportunity to capitalize on the connection still pending? Is structured data on the web not just the future but the present? What sector is taking a strong lead in the semantic web space?

We begin with Part 1, with our experts listed in alphabetical order:

John Breslin, lecturer at NUI Galway, researcher and unit leader at DERI, creator of SIOC, and co-founder of Technology Voice and StreamGlider:
I think the schema.org initiative really gaining community support and a broader range of terms has been fantastic. It’s been great to see an easily understandable set of terms for describing the objects in web pages, but also leveraging the experience of work like GoodRelations rather than ignoring what has gone before. It’s also been encouraging to see the growth of Drupal 7 (which produces RDFa data) in the government sector: Estimates are that 24 percent of .gov CMS sites are now powered by Drupal.

Martin Böhringer, CEO & Co-Founder Hojoki:

For us it was very important to see Jena, our Semantic Web framework, becoming an Apache top-level project in April 2012. We see a lot of development pace in this project recently and see a chance to build an open source Semantic Web foundation which can handle cutting-edge requirements.

Still disappointing is the missing link between Semantic Web and the “cool” technologies and buzzwords. From what we see Semantic Web gives answers to some of the industry’s most challenging problems, but it still doesn’t seem to really find its place in relation to the cloud or big data (Hadoop).

Christine Connors, Chief Ontologist, Knowledgent:

One trend that I have seen is increased interest in the broader spectrum of semantic technologies in the enterprise. Graph stores, NoSQL, schema-less and more flexible systems, ontologies (& ontologists!) and integration with legacy systems. I believe the Big Data movement has had a positive impact on this field. We are hearing more and more about “Big Data Analytics” from our clients, partners and friends. The analytical power brought to bear by the semantic technology stack is sparking curiosity – what is it really? How can these models help me mitigate risk, more accurately predict outcomes, identify hidden intellectual assets, and streamline business processes? Real questions, tough questions: fun challenges!

Read more

Search Engine Yandex Gets More Personal, And More Semantic, Too

Image courtesy of Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Search engine Yandex this week added personalization capabilities for Eastern European users’ search results. It analyses their online behavior including their search history, clicks on search results, and language preferences for its suggestions.

Kaliningrad is the name of the latest edition of Yandex’ personalized search engine. It uses that information to make suggestions and rank search results individually tailored for each user, showing book lovers that do a search on Harry Potter links related to the books, while those who prefer movies get film-oriented link fare.

Semantic markup didn’t play a role in the development of the technology, Yandex technical product manager and developer advocate Alexander Shubin says. But it can be applied for future enhancements, he notes. The new personalization reportedly leverages Yandex’ machine-learning-based query and search results algorithms “Spectrum” and “MatrixNet” to train the results to users’ requirements.

That said, Yandex has been diving deeper into semantic web waters. Beyond taking advantage of sites using schema.org markup to improve the display of search results, Shubin provides this update: “We enhanced our markup validator to understand all the markup (Open Graph, schema.org, RDFa, microformats). It is universal now (as Google’s or Bing’s instruments).”

Read more

Google Debuts Data Highlighter: An Easy Way Into Structured Data

Structured data makes the Web go around. Search engines love it when webmasters mark up page content. Google’s rich snippets, for instance, leverages sites’ use of microdata (preferred format), or RDFa or microformats: It makes it possible to highlight in a few lines specific types of content in search results, to give users some insight about what’s on the page and its relationship to their queries – prep time for a recipe, for instance.

Plenty of web sites generated from structured data haven’t added HTML markup to their pages, though, so they aren’t getting the benefits that come with search engines understanding the information on those web pages.

Maybe that will change, now that Google has introduced Data Highlighter, an easy way to tell its search engine about the structured data behind their web pages. A video posted by Google product management director Jack Menzel gives the snapshot: “Data Highlighter is a point- and-click tool that allows any webmaster to show Google the patterns of structured data on their pages without modifying the pages themselves,” he says.

Read more

Adding Rich Snippets and Semantic Markup to Your Site

Barbara Starr of SearchEngineLand reports, “Semantic markup is becoming more and more popular in conjunction with large scale SEO. Adding rich snippets to send rich signals to alert search engines as to the relevancy of your content − whatever vertical they may appear in − is not only a wise move, but an SEO best practice. Included below is an illustrative guide highlighting currently available Chrome extensions, which you can leverage to both test on-site markup as well as expose any information regarding your competitors. An example is illustrated [above], and what follows is a guide to getting the information.” Read more

Should Microdata Become a W3C Standard?

Manu Sporny recently voiced his personal objection to the W3C microdata candidate recommendation. He writes, “The HTML Working Group at the W3C is currently trying to decide if they should transition the Microdata specification to the next stage in the standardization process. There has been a call for consensus to transition the spec to the Candidate Recommendation stage. From a standards perspective, this is a huge mistake and sends the wrong signal to Web developers everywhere. The problem is that we already have a set of specifications that are official W3C recommendations that do what Microdata does and more. RDFa 1.1 became an official W3C Recommendation last summer.”

Read more

NEXT PAGE >>