Posts Tagged ‘Brian Sletten’

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.

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Keep On Keeping On

“There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new order of things…. Whenever his enemies have the ability to attack the innovator, they do so with the passion of partisans, while the others defend him sluggishly, so that the innovator and his party alike are vulnerable.”
–Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (1513)

Atlanta's flying car laneIn case you missed it, a series of recent articles have made a Big Announcement:

The Semantic Web is not here yet.

Additionally, neither are flying cars, the cure for cancer, humans traveling to Mars or a bunch of other futuristic ideas that still have merit.

A problem with many of these articles is that they conflate the Vision of the Semantic Web with the practical technologies associated with the standards. While the Whole Enchilada has yet to emerge (and may never do so), the individual technologies are finding their way into ever more systems in a wide variety of industries. These are not all necessarily on the public Web, they are simply Webs of Data. There are plenty of examples of this happening and I won’t reiterate them here.

Instead, I want to highlight some other things that are going on in this discussion that are largely left out of these narrowly-focused, provocative articles.

First, the Semantic Web has a name attached to its vision and it has for quite some time. As such, it is easy to remember and it is easy to remember that it Hasn’t Gotten Here Yet. Every year or so, we have another round of articles that are more about cursing the darkness than lighting candles.

In that same timeframe, however, we’ve seen the ascent and burn out failure of Service-Oriented Architectures (SOA), Enterprise Service Buses (ESBs), various MVC frameworks, server side architectures, etc. Everyone likes to announce $20 million sales of an ESB to clients. No one generally reports on the $100 million write-downs on failed initiatives when they surface in annual reports a few years later. So we are left with a skewed perspective on the efficacy of these big “conventional” initiatives.

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Announcing: Best Buy Product Catalog via Semantic Endpoints

Logo for BBYOpenA new resource has been announced on Best Buy’s BBYOpen blog: Metis Alpha. Like Best Buy’s earlier forays into Semantic Web use, this one started with a business problem. As the announcement states: “These days, consumers have a rich variety of products available at their fingertips. A massive product landscape has evolved, but sadly products in this enormous and rich landscape often get flattened to just a price tag. Over time, it seems the product value proposition, variety, descriptions, specifics, and details that make up products have all but disappeared. This presents consumers with a ‘paradox of choice’ where misinformed decisions can lead to poor product selections, and ultimately product returns and customer remorse.”

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Web Developers Can Now Easily “Play” with RDFa

Kids playingYesterday, we announced RDFa.info, a new site devoted to helping developers add RDFa (Resource Description Framework-in-attributes) to HTML.

Building on that work, the team behind RDFa.info is announcing today the release of “PLAY,” a live RDFa editor and visualization tool. This release marks a significant step in providing tools for web developers that are easy to use, even for those unaccustomed to working with RDFa.

“Play” is an effort that serves several purposes. It is an authoring environment and markup debugger for RDFa that also serves as a teaching and education tool for Web Developers. As Alex Milowski, one of the core RDFa.info team, said, “It can be used for purposes of experimentation, documentation (e.g. crafting an example that produces certain triples), and testing. If you want to know what markup will produce what kind of properties (triples), this tool is going to be great for understanding how you should be structuring your own data.”

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day is Today – but where’s the Sem Tech?

Global Accessibility Awareness Day LogoToday, May 9, 2012 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD). What started with a simple blog-post by Los Angeles Web Developer, Joe Devon, has grown to include events around the world designed to increase awareness about web accessibility issues. To read more about the day and these various activities, see the official GAAD Website and Facebook page.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Today, about 50 million Americans, or 1 in 5 people, are living with at least one disability, and most Americans will experience a disability some time during the course of their lives.” In other parts of the world, this number may be significantly higher.

In the interest of full disclosure, Joe Devon is a personal friend of mine, and I must admit that if he were not, I likely wouldn’t have seen his blog post or explored the issues of accessibility as deeply as I have in recent weeks. But I have been exploring, and I’ve been surprised at what I’ve found. In my opinion, Semantic Technology and Assistive Technology are a natural fit for one another, but there seems to be very little discussion or work around the intersection of the two. I have looked, but have not found much collaboration between the two communities. I have also found few individuals who possess much knowledge about both Semantic Tech and Assistive Tech. Of course, if I’ve missed something, please let me know in the comments!

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