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W3C completes bridge between HTML/microformats and semantic web

12.09.2007
GRDDL gives web content hooks to powerful reuse and data integration

Today, the World Wide Web Consortium completed an important link between Semantic Web and microformats communities. With "Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Languages", or GRDDL (pronounced "griddle"), software can automatically extract information from structured Web pages to make it part of the Semantic Web. Those accustomed to expressing structured data with microformats in XHTML can thus increase the value of their existing data by porting it to the Semantic Web, at very low cost.

"Sometimes one line of code can make a world of difference," said Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director. "Just as stylesheets make Web pages more readable to people, GRDDL makes Web pages, microformat tags, XML documents, and data more readable to Semantic Web applications, opening more data to new possibilities and creative reuse."

Getting data into and out of the Web; how is it happening today?

One aspect of recent developments some people call "Web 2.0" involves applications based on combining — in "mashups" — various types of data that are spread all around on the Web. A number of active communities innovating on the Web share the goal of sharing data such as calendar information, contact information, and geopositioning information. These communities have developed diverse social practices and technologies that satisfy their particular needs. For instance, search engines have had great success using statistical methods while people who share photos have found it useful to tag their photos manually with short text labels. Much of this work can be captured via "microformats". Microformats refer to sets of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards, including HTML, CSS and XML.

This wave of activity has direct connections to the essence of the Semantic Web. The Semantic Web-based communities have pursued ways to improve the quality and availability of data on the Web, making it possible for more intensive data-integration and more diverse applications that can scale to the size of the Web and allow even more powerful mashups. The Web-based set of standards that supports this work is known as the Semantic Web stack. The foundations of the Semantic Web stack meet the requirements for formality of some applications such as managing bank statements, or combining volumes of medical data.

Each approach to "getting your data out there" has its place. But why limit yourself to just one approach if you can benefit, at low cost, from more than one? As microformats users consider more uses that require data modelling, or validation, how can they take advantage of their existing data in more formal applications?

A bridge from flexible web applications to the semantic web

GRDDL is the bridge for turning data expressed in an XML format (such as XHTML) into Semantic Web data. With GRDDL, authors transform the data they wish to share into a format that can be used and transformed again for more rigorous applications.

GRDDL Use Cases provides insight into why this is useful through a number of real-world scenarios, including scheduling a meeting, comparing information from various retailers before making a purchase, and extracting information from wikis to facilitate e-learning. Once data is part of the Semantic Web, it can be merged with other data (for example, from a relational database, similarly exposed to the Semantic Web) for queries, inferences, and conversion to other formats.

The Working Group has reported on implementation experience, and its members have come forward with statements of support and commitments to implement GRDDL

GRDDL Test Cases is also published today, which describes and includes test cases for software agents to support GRDDL. The Working Group has produced a GRDDL service that allows users to input a GRDDL'd file and extract the important data.

These testimonials are in support of W3C issuance of GRDDL as a W3C Recommendation.

- In English: DCMI | INRIA | microformats.org | OpenLink Software | Talis Group Ltd.

The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative congratulates the W3C on the finalization of GRDDL and welcomes it as an important addition to the Web metadata infrastructure.
GRDDL is an essential tool in bridging the various expressions of Dublin Core metadata, and DCMI is creating GRDDL transforms that expose Dublin Core metadata expressed in XML and HTML to the Semantic Web.
By standardizing the transformation mechanisms, GRDDL allows for syntactic choices while enabling semantic interoperability -- both important needs in the metadata community -- and as such is fundamental to the future evolution of the Web.

-- Mikael Nilsson and Thomas Baker, DCMI Architecture Forum, Dublin Core Metadata Initiative

INRIA is proud to have contributed to the specification and design of GRDDL and is already promoting and integrating it in several projects and tools. Bridging the gap between the traditional Web and the Semantic Web is a seminal step in the deployment of semantic web technologies and applications. By allowing applications to automatically glean resources from the wealth of XML documents available online, this recommendation is opening a new highway for knowledge mashups and composition of application through web resources.

-- Pierre Paradinas, Head of Technological Development, INRIA

Microformats provide an easy way for many people to contribute semantic data to the web. With GRDDL all of that data is made available for RDF Semantic Web tools. Microformats and GRDDL can work together to build a better web.

-- Ryan King, an active member of microformats.org community

GRDDL is one of several initiatives from the W3C that seeks to unobtrusively evolve the current Web of Documents to a Web of interlinked Data.

-- Kingsley Idehen, CEO, OpenLink Software

Talis believes that GRDDL represents one of the most important steps along the road to the Semantic Web. It provides a very simple yet extraordinarily powerful mechanism to uplift documents into the web of data. Talis intends to fully support GRDDL in our Semantic Web Platform, allowing our customers to automatically extract searchable RDF metadata from their existing content with very little effort.

-- Ian Davis, CTO, Talis Group Ltd.

In French: INRIA

L'INRIA est fier d'avoir contribué aux spécifications et à la conception de GRDDL et intègre déjà cette technologie dans plusieurs projets et outils. Créer des passerelles entre le Web traditionnel et le Web sémantique est une étape critique dans le déploiement des technologies et des applications du Web sémantique. En permettant à des applications d'extraire automatiquement des données de toute la variété de documents XML accessibles en ligne, cette recommandation ouvre une nouvelle voie pour l'intégration de connaissances et la composition d'applications à travers les ressources du Web."

-- Pierre Paradinas, Directeur du Développement Technologique, INRIA

Marie-Claire Forgue | alfa
Further information:
http://www.w3.org/2007/07/grddl-pressrelease.html.en

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