Upcoming talks on RDF, RDFa and XForms

01 May 2008

May is going to be pretty busy with talks about XForms, RDF and RDFa coming up.

First up is my talk XForms, REST, XQuery...and skimming at XTech 2008. The talk embraces themes I've been pursuing for a couple of years now; that as we put more functionality into the client, and servers get 'cleverer', it becomes much easier to build sophisticated web applications. Of course server technologies are moving so fast now that this whole approach is making more and more sense, so I'm looking forward to taking in recent developments in my talk. For example, both Amazon and Google effectively have 'databases in the cloud' that can be used to store data and query it, via APIs, with literally no configuration.

A few weeks later I'm going to be giving a tutorial on RDF at SemTech. This is an interesting development for me, because RDF and the semantic web were always my first interests--before XForms and before XHTML 2. (As well as writing RDF parsers, and designing applications, I also contributed chapters on RDF and RDFS to a couple of books on metadata and XML.)

But one problem I always had when trying to build semantic-web applications was that defining the user interface was pretty hairy. This was partly because RDF Schema is tricky to process, but also because HTML was insufficiently powerful in its core feature-set, so the translation from RDF to HTML involved a lot of work.

The need for a user interface language that was much richer than HTML was therefore why I got involved in the XForms standard (and worked with Paul Butcher to produce the first fully conforming XForms processor, formsPlayer). So although it may not seem directly connected to the semantic web, I believe that in the coming period XForms will start to become a key part of the semantic web's architecture.

Another problem I kept coming up against whilst developing for the semantic web was the difficulty in actually publishing metadata. In particular I always found it frustrating that there was a lot of really useful metadata just sitting in ordinary web pages, and no-one could get at it. Attempting to resolve this problem gave rise to RDFa, and I'm excited that the RDFa in XHTML working draft is extremely close to becoming a stable recommendation. And as interest in RDFa grows, I'm pleased to say that some of my other presentations in May will be 'tech talks' on RDFa at Yahoo!, eBay and Google. (I'm really excited that I might be getting to meet some of the guys behind Yahoo!'s SearchMonkey.)

My final talk of the month will be at the excitingly-named Kings of Code, and I'm looking forward to talking about XHTML, XHTML 2, HTML 5, XAML, and anything else I can think of in relation to web languages.