Semantic Web technology to get update

Query mechanism upgrade focuses on app development

SPARQL, the query technology for the Semantic Web, is set for improvements for application development via a proposal before the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

With the semantic Web,  more refined groupings of data is enabled. SPARQL, considered the query mechanism for the semantic Web, has been used in applications such as complicated mashups that query data, said Ivan Herman, W3C Semantic Web Activity lead. SPARQL Query 1.1 is part of a proposal put forward by W3C earlier this month. The new version of SPARQL is anticipated for release in the fall of 2010.

"Some of the new features try to make the development of applications easier, performing standard operations on the query processor side that applications have to do repeatedly today," Herman said. "Examples are calculating the minimum or the maximum of returned numerical values, combining returned values through standard operations like numerical multiplications, etc."

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Also envisioned is the ability to nest queries within queries, to reduce communication and programming overhead, Herman said. "At the moment, many application patterns involve issuing repeated queries: issue a query, take the result, construct a new query based on that result and issue this new query, etc. Each query involves a communication on the wire, because the query engine might be somewhere on the Web," said Herman.

SPARQL implementations with special functions used locally would be accommodated in the upgrade. "In the new environment, it will be possible to describe these features through standard means and client programs will be able to automatically find and interpret these descriptions and adapt their behavior accordingly," Herman said.

Inferencing capabilities as well as minor syntax changes are planned as well.

Also proposed by W3C was SPARQL Update language, which complements features of the initial SPARQL Query Language 1.0, adding the ability to insert, delete, and change data in the RDF (Resource Description Framework).

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