ld1Linked Data: Structured Data on the Web is now available in a soft-cover edition. The book, authored by David Wood, Marsha Zaidman, Luke Ruth, and Michael Hausenblas, and with a forward by Tim Berners-Lee, aims to give mainstream developers without previous experience with Linked Data practical techniques for integrating it into real-world projects, focusing on languages with which they’re likely to be familiar, such as JavaScript and Python.

Berners-Lee’s forward gets the ball rolling in a big way, making the case for Linked Data and its critical importance in the web ecosystem:“The Web of hypertext-linked documents is complemented by the very powerful Linked Web of Data.  Why linked?  Well, think of how the value of a Web page is very much a function of what it links to, as well as the inherent value of the information within the Web page. So it is — in a way even more so — also in the Semantic Web of Linked Data.  The data itself is valuable, but the links to other data make it much more so.”

The topic has clearly struck a nerve, Wood believes, noting that today we are “at a point where structured data on the web is getting tremendous play,” from Google’s Knowledge Graph to the Facebook Open Graph protocol, to the growing use of the schema.org vocabulary, to data still growing exponentially in the Linked Open Data Project, and more. “The industry is ready to talk about data and data processing in a way it never has been before,” he continues. There’s growing realization that Linked Data fits in with and nicely complements technologies in the data science realm, such as machine learning algorithms and Hadoop, such that “you can suddenly build things you never could before with a tiny team, and that’s pretty cool….No technology is sufficient in and of itself but combine them and you can do really powerful things.”

david_wood_bwReaders will find that the book, published by Manning Publications, provides lots of realistic but short Linked Data projects, which increase in complexity as they work their way through, he says. “You start by getting basics on the web, the basics of Linked Data, and then diving in deep to understand the data model behind Linked Data,” Wood explains. “Then by the end of the book there are several very full-featured, real-world coding examples that use Linked Data.” They run the gamut from a note-taking to a weather app that brings in live weather feed. The book also talks about real-world use of Linked Data at the search engines and in open government work – such as efforts at the US EPA, and also introduces the Callimachus Open Source Linked Data management system.

Wood, who is CTO of Callimachus sponsor 3 Round Stones,  adds that the authors have seen an uptake of people engaging with the project since the book has come out. “Callimachus Open Source always has been a developers’ platform to create Linked Data apps very quickly,” says Wood. “Why make a Linked Data application? We think it provides some value because as you use your app, you are making machine-readable data that you can build upon.” (Meanwhile, Callimachus Enterprise, 3 Round Stones’ enterprise grade Web application server for Linked Data, will be incorporating more ready-to-go end user applications in addition to its current offerings that include content management, workgroup productivity, and collaborative tools.  “As people use these applications, on the back end they are making structured Linked Data,” Wood says. “Then any enterprise developer can use that wealth of data being created just by daily use by end users and query it, build applications on it, and put it to use.”)

Other assets for Linked Data: Structured Data on the Web include a companion web site, which points developers, executives and academics to other publications of interest on the topic of Linked Data, while this site serves as an ongoing forum for questions and comments about the book. In the last year it’s been the source of “substantive and useful comments” about the text, Wood says, as well as a chance to hear from individuals who have noted that they’ve now been able to start work on their own Linked Data projects.

In addition, “one of the things that Manning did as favor to us, which we felt was really important, was to have some Linked Data published about this book,” says Wood. Clicking on the RDF logo at right here gets you to it.  Currently it’s the only Manning book to sport Linked Data, “but I’m hopeful that in time we’ll see more publishers publishing Linked Data about their books,” he says. “I think that the work Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yandex did with schema.org gives publishers a terrific economic incentive to do that.”

The Semantic Web Blog first introduced readers to the book here, when it was initially launched in electronic PDF version. Through the early access program run by Manning, readers for the past year or so have been able to view for free the first chapter that introduces Linked Data (and, if they purchased it at that point, get additional electronic chapter updates as the book was being completed), Now that it is in print, Manning is letting readers peruse both chapters One and Three (which focuses on consuming Linked Data from the open Web) at no charge. “It’s enough to give you a pretty good indication of whether it’s worth buying the rest of the book,” Wood says.

Buyers can choose to purchase directly from Manning the book in all its electronic formats (PDF, Kindle and ePub), or as a bundle with a print edition as well. The Kindle and ePub versions should be ready by month’s end. Over at Amazon, by the way, the opportunity is there for readers to contribute reviews of the paperback edition now.