Short Essay: Squeezing RDF into a Java Object Model

David Megginson david at
Mon May 3 21:31:23 BST 1999

Tim Bray writes:

 > Hmm, as I write this, I'm chewing away on a data set with about
 > half a million RDF tuples.  I'm having an easier time of it than
 > David, but I think that's because I'm trying to do less.


Just so -- personally, I've had no need to use most of the stuff
either (it's a classic 80/20 thing), and I've written ad-hoc RDF
libraries that work just fine for my customers' real-world
requirements, including one for WavePhore that's happily processing
streaming RDF data records for over 2,000 newswire stories (probably
more than that by now) every day at dozens of customer sites.

Certainly, we can define formats that happen to be RDF-compatible
(like XMLNews-Meta [1]), but to create a general-purpose RDF
processing software that will make it worthwhile to standardize on
RDF, we have to implement all of the bogosity in the spec. -- hence my 

I have no problem writing an RDF/Foo engine for customer A, and
RDF/Bar engine for customer B, and an RDF/Hack engine for customer C
-- heck, I'm billing for them -- but they should all be able to share
the same RDF engine(s); otherwise, why not just define the Foo, Bar,
and Hack formats directly, without worrying about RDF compatibility?

 > Perhaps the key is that I'm not trying to construct a comprehensive
 > object model - I'm just trying to use metadata to look things up.
 > I find RDF just fine for that.

Exactly, but you're free to implement only the subset that you need
for your project -- as you know, people do exactly the same with XML
(though with so many good parsers now, most just use the DOM or SAX).

All the best,



David Megginson                 david at

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