Posts Tagged ‘World Wide Web Consortium’

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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HTML5: The Party Is Officially On!

w3chtmlWord came from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) yesterday that it has published the 5th major revision of HTML, the core language of the web. While HTML5 is already in use by developers (having become a W3C candidate recommendation a couple of years ago), the recommendation for the standard is a lynchpin for the community, as it now formalizes stable guidelines for the development of innovative and cross-platform web sites and applications.

A key feature of HTML5 – the first major new HTML standard in more than a decade – is that it provides the ability to describe the structure of a web document with standard semantics. It uses semantic tags for things like page headers, footers, body, ordered lists, time, and more to better identify an element and how it is being used. Greater use of these tags should improve a browser’s ability to understand content for display across a range of devices and screen sizes without requiring any development rejiggering, and search engines’ ability to more effectively index a page, which could lead to better rankings.

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Web Payments Interest Group Takes Flight

w3cdomainThe World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has launched an initiative to integrate payments seamlessly into the Open Web Platform, the collection of open technologies such as HTML, HTTP, and various APIs that enable the Web. It’s asking for industry stakeholders, such as banks, credit card companies, governments and others, to join the new Web Payments Interest Group, chaired by Erik Anderson (Bloomberg) and David Ezell (Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing), to help deepen understanding of challenges and how to meet them with the appropriate solutions to move e-commerce forward, including on mobile devices.

The Interest Group’s goals include improving usability across devices and reducing the risk of fraud, as well as creating new opportunities for businesses and consumers in areas such as coupons and loyalty programs and crypto-currencies. On its agenda is creating a Web Payments Roadmap, determining Web Payments terminology, dealing with payment transaction messaging and identity, authentication and security. As part of its work, the new group is charged with creating a framework to ensure that Web applications can interface in standard ways with all current and future payment methods, and will encompass the full range of devices people use for online payments.

First up, the W3C says, is a focus on digital wallets, “which many in industry consider an effective way to reduce fraud and improve privacy by having users share sensitive information only with payment providers, rather than merchants,” according to the release. “In addition, wallets can simplify transactions from mobile devices and make it easier to integrate new payment innovations.”

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The Semantic Web’s Rocking, And There Ain’t No Stopping It Now

archerMake no mistake about it: The semantic web has been a success and that’s not about to stop now. That was essentially the message delivered by W3C Data Activity Lead Phil Archer, during his keynote address celebrating the semantic web’s ten years of achievement at last month’s Semantic Technology & Business Conference in San Jose.

After acknowledging that he’s heard it all about the semantic web being a failure, about it being rebranded as Linked Data and that being a failure too, he summed up those impressions in one distinctly British word: “Bollocks.” The list of successes ranged across the spectrum, from the use in federated data portals of the Data Catalog Vocabulary from the W3C’s Government Linked Data Working Group, to the 47-million triples strong Open Phacts pharmacology discovery platform, to all the job postings that come up on The Semantic Web Blog – including one recently for the J. Craig Venter Institute, named for the pioneer genomic researcher who sequenced the human genome, which is looking for a bioinformatics analyst with OWL expertise in his or her resume.

That’s just a taste of the many citations he offered of the semantic web’s successes to date, not least among them his own strong familiarity with Linked Data’s use in government, where the technologies, he said, are used “to make our government more efficient” by having one organization make an authoritative data set the others can link to to support data-sharing across agencies. (For the full view into Archer’s take on the semantic web’s successes, you can view the entire keynote here.)

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You Can Help Make Linked Data Core To The Future of Identity, Payment On The Web Platform

ld1At the end of September, The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) may approve the world’s first Web Payments Steering Group, to explore issues such as navigating around obstacles to seamless payments on the web and ways to better facilitate global transactions while respecting local laws. Identity and digital signatures have a role here, at the same time as they go beyond the realm of payment into privacy and other arenas. At the end of October, there also will be a W3C technical plenary, to discuss identity, graph normalization, digital signatures and payments technologies.

Expect Linked Data to come up in the context of both events, Manu Sporny told attendees at this August’s 10th annual Semantic Technology & Business conference in San Jose during his keynote address, entitled Building Linked Data Into the Core of the Web. “It is the foundational data model to build all this technology off of,” said Sporny, who is the founder and CEO of Digital Bazaar, which develops technology and services to make it easier to buy and sell digital content over the Internet. (See our stories about the company and its technology here.)  He also is founder and chair of the W3C Web Payments Community Group, chair of its RDFa Working Group, and founder, and chair and lead editor of the JSON-LD Community Group.

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Schema.org Takes Action

actionstatusThis week saw schema.org introduce vocabulary that enables websites to describe the actions they enable and how these actions can be invoked, in the hope that these additions will help unleash new categories of applications, according to a new post by Dan Brickley.

This represents an expansion of the vocabulary’s focus point from describing entities to taking action on these entities. The work has been in progress, Brickley explains here, for the last couple of years, building on the http://schema.org/Action types added last August by providing a way of describing the capability to perform actions in the future.

The three action status type now includes PotentialActionStatus for a description of an action that is supported, ActiveActionStatus for an in-progress action, and CompletedActionStatus, for an action that has already taken place.

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The Web Is 25 — And The Semantic Web Has Been An Important Part Of It

web25NOTE: This post was updated at 5:40pm ET.

Today the Web celebrates its 25th birthday, and we celebrate the Semantic Web’s role in that milestone. And what a milestone it is: As of this month, the Indexed Web contains at least 2.31 billion pages, according to WorldWideWebSize.  

The Semantic Web Blog reached out to the World Wide Web Consortium’s current and former semantic leads to get their perspective on the roads The Semantic Web has traveled and the value it has so far brought to the Web’s table: Phil Archer, W3C Data Activity Lead coordinating work on the Semantic Web and related technologies; Ivan Herman, who last year transitioned roles at the W3C from Semantic Activity Lead to Digital Publishing Activity Lead; and Eric Miller, co-founder and president of Zepheira and the leader of the Semantic Web Initiative at the W3C until 2007.

While The Semantic Web came to the attention of the wider public in 2001, with the publication in The Scientific American of The Semantic Web by Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila, Archer points out that “one could argue that the Semantic Web is 25 years old,” too. He cites Berners-Lee’s March 1989 paper, Information Management: A Proposal, that includes a diagram that shows relationships that are immediately recognizable as triples. “That’s how Tim envisaged it from Day 1,” Archer says.

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Ivan Herman Discusses Lead Role At W3C Digital Publishing Activity — And Where The Semantic Web Can Fit In Its Work

rsz_w3clogoThere’s a (fairly) new World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) activity, the Digital Publishing Activity, and it’s headed up by Ivan Herman, formerly the Semantic Web Activity Lead there. That activity was subsumed in December by the W3c Data Activity, with Phil Archer taking the role as Lead (see our story here).

Begun last summer, the Digital Publishing Activity has, as Herman describes it, “millions of aspects, some that have nothing to do with the semantic web.” But some, happily, that do – and that are extremely important to the publishing community, as well.

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W3C’s Semantic Web Activity Folds Into New Data Activity

rsz_w3clogoThe World Wide Web Consortium has headline news today: The Semantic Web, as well as eGovernment, Activities are being merged and superseded by the Data Activity, where Phil Archer serves as Lead.  Two new workgroups also have been chartered: CSV on the Web and Data on the Web Best Practices.

What’s driving this? First, Archer explains, the Semantic Web technology stack is now mature, and it’s time to allow those updated standards to be used. With RDF 1.1, the Linked Data Platform, SPARQL 1.1, RDB To RDF Mapping Language (R2RML), OWL 2, and Provenance all done or very close to it, it’s the right time “to take that very successful technology stack and try to implement it in the wider environment,” Archer says, rather than continue tinkering with the standards.

The second reason, he notes, is that a large community exists “that sees Linked Data, let alone the full Semantic Web, as an unnecessarily complicated technology. To many developers, data means JSON — anything else is a problem. During the Open Data on the Web workshop held in London in April, Open Knowledge Foundation co-founder and director Rufus Pollock said that if he suggested to the developers that they learn SPARQL he’d be laughed at – and he’s not alone.” Archer says. “We need to end the religious wars, where they exist, and try to make it easier to work with data in the format that people like to work in.”

The new CSV on the Web Working Group is an important step in that direction, following on the heels of efforts such as R2RML. It’s about providing metadata about CSV files, such as column headings, data types, and annotations, and, with it, making it easily possible to convert CSV into RDF (or other formats), easing data integration. “The working group will define a metadata vocabulary and then a protocol for how to link data to metadata (presumably using HTTP Link headers) or embed the metadata directly. Since the links between data and metadata can work in either direction, the data can come from an API that returns tabular data just as easily as it can a static file,” says Archer. “It doesn’t take much imagination to string together a tool chain that allows you to run SPARQL queries against ’5 Star Data’ that’s actually published as a CSV exported from a spreadsheet.”

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A Look Into Learning SPARQL With Author Bob DuCharme

Cover of Learning SPARQL - Second Edition, by Bob DuCharmeThe second edition of Bob DuCharme’s Learning SPARQL debuted this summer. The Semantic Web Blog connected with DuCharme – who is director of digital media solutions at TopQuadrant, the author of other works including XML: The Annotated Specification, and also a welcome speaker both at the Semantic Technology & Business Conference and our Semantic Web Blog podcasts – to learn more about the latest version of the book.

Semantic Web Blog: In what I believe has been two years since the first edition was published, what have been the most significant changes in the ‘SPARQL space’ – or the semantic web world at large — that make this the right time for an expanded edition of Learning SPARQL?

DuCharme: The key thing is that SPARQL 1.1 is now an actual W3C Recommendation. It was great to see it so widely implemented so early in its development process, which justified the release of the book’s first edition so long before 1.1 was set in stone, but now that it’s a Recommendation we can release an edition of the book that is no longer describing a moving target. Not much in SPARQL has changed since the first edition – the VALUES keyword replaced BINDINGS, with some tweaks, and some property path syntax details changed – but it’s good to know that nothing in 1.1 can change now.

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