One of the giants of search, Yahoo Inc, has announced that it will be embracing a number of semantic web standards.
Support for the standards will be built into the new Yahoo Search open platform, according to Amit Kumar’s entry in the Yahoo Search blog on Thursday. Kumar is the director of product management at Yahoo Search.
“In the coming weeks, we’ll be releasing more detailed specifications that will describe our support of semantic web standards,” he writes.
“Initially, we plan to support a number of microformats, including hCard, hCalendar, hReview, hAtom, and XFN. Yahoo Search will work with the web community to evolve the vocabulary framework for embedding structured data. For starters, we plan to support vocabulary components from Dublin Core, Creative Commons, FOAF, GEORss, MediaRSS, and others based on feedback. And, we will support RDFa and eRDF markup to embed these into existing HTML pages. Finally, we are announcing support for the OpenSearch specification, with extensions for structured queries to deep web data sources.”
OpenSearch is a collection of simple formats for the sharing of search results that can be used to help people discover and use a search engine and to syndicate search results across the web. The search giant had developed an extremely effective way of searching for pages on the internet, Tim Berners-Lee said, but that ability paled in comparison to what could be achieved on the “web of the future.”
As part of the announcement, Yahoo says it will be opening up its new Yahoo Search platform to third party developers, with plans to launch a beta program for a development tool to build Enhanced Results applications for the platform in a few weeks. “Enhanced Results apps built by developers can utilize the structured data available through public APIs and in our index (made available by site owners through either feeds or the semantic web standards discussed above),” he writes.
The news of Yahoo’s support for semantic web standards comes at the tail end of a week in which world wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee said that its search rival Google could be superseded as the pre-eminent brand on the internet by a company that harnesses the power of next-generation web technology. According to an interview that Berners-Lee gave to Jonathan Richards of the U.K.’es Times Online, the search giant had developed an extremely effective way of searching for pages on the internet. But, he told Richards, that ability paled in comparison to what could be achieved on the web of the future, which will enable direct connectivity between much more low-level pieces of information, which in turn will give rise to new services.
This development at Yahoo is separate from but related to its work in microsearch. Microsearch has been the testing ground for some of the ideas around semantic search, and most likely will continue to be, according to Peter Mika, a researcher who’s working in that area at Yahoo Research Barcelona. Microsearch is a research prototype, while SearchMonkey (the code name for Yahoo’s open search platform) is soon to be released as a product designed to handle a large number of users and a virtually unlimited amount of metadata, he writes in an email. There are a number of features in microsearch that won’t appear in SearchMonkey yet. Nevertheless, he says, the important news here is that Yahoo can now stand in front of the world and announce its support for Semantic Web standards in a product for which it has very high expectations.
“Personally,” he writes, “I believe that SearchMonkey will unleash a completely new wave of innovation in the Semantic Web domain by putting the entire world’s metadata at the fingertips of developers. And that is quite something!”