A busy week in RDFa-world

18 May 2009

This last week has been great for the profile of RDFa, and this post is a mixture of my own experiences and some broader news during that time.

Yahoo!'s Open Hack

The week began for me with a presentation at Yahoo!'s Open Hack 2009 in London, on RDFa: Now everyone can have an API (I changed the title at the last minute). The Tech Talk part of the Hack Day was packed with useful information on some of Yahoo!'s latest technologies, from YQL to SearchMonkey, through Blueprint to BOSS. So for me it was great to see RDFa up there alongside those technologies as something that developers should be finding out more about.

'RDFa in Drupal' Code Sprint

I had originally planned to stay for the entire 24 hours of the Hack Day, but having recently discovered that Stephane Corlosquet was planning a Drupal code sprint to add support for RDFa to Drupal core, I knew I just had to go to DERI, Galway and offer some help. We use Drupal a lot for our work, and if nothing else, this was a chance to give something back. But more than that, I'm really excited about the direction Drupal is taking in terms of the semantic web; having a widely used and popular open source web platform that is using RDFa is of course great news for RDFa, but more importantly, it's great news for the semantic web. The code sprint itself was very impressive. I couldn't stay for the whole four days, but everyone was very professional, and working with the team that had joined Stephane gave me a clear illustration of how it is that Drupal is able to continue to evolve and gain popularity.

Google's Rich Snippets

After a quick stopover in Dublin with the family of my friend and colleague Bartek, combined with a great meeting with him and his team at Geco Loco, I arrived back in London. I was home for less than 12 hours before I heard of Google's announcement that they would begin to index RDFa, and then spent half the night watching the Twitterverse take in the implications of this event. I'll be writing up my own views on this in the next few days (I've been tied up finishing an RDFa tutorial for another web-site), but for now I want to say that Google's announcement is, without reservation, incredible news for both RDFa and the semantic web.

A Virtuous Circle

What a week; a major consumer of web-pages announces that they will be processing more and more RDFa, at the same time as a key open source web platform makes it easier for publishers to create RDFa. We now have the virtuous circle that will see the pace of RDFa adoption accelerate dramatically.

Postscript: Talks on RDFa at SemTech

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at SemTech last year, delivering an introductory tutorial on RDF and RDFS (the slides are on SlideShare). But I think I'm going to enjoy it even more this year, since my sessions this time around are on RDFa. The first session is RDFa: The semantic web's missing link, and was originally intended to explain to people why using RDFa would help to speed up the adoption of the semantic web. Given recent events I'll probably do less of the evangelising, and use it as an opportunity to present some newer ideas. The second session is an SEO panel, and I don't think the organisers will mind me saying that including RDFa in the discussion was an afterthought. But once again, in the light of Google's announcement, I'm hoping that there will be a lot of interest in the session, as we look at where RDFa fits in to the broader search landscape.