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Leveraging Information and Intelligence

David Linthicum

RDF and Data Integration

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So, what does RDF have to do with data integration? A lot actually.

Resource Description Framework (RDF), a part of the XML story, provides interoperability between applications that exchange information. RDF is another Web standard that's finding use everywhere. RDF is not new. RDF was developed by the W3C to provide a foundation of metadata interoperability across different resource description communities and is the basis for the W3C movement to ontologies such as the use of Web Ontology Language (OWL).

RDF uses XML to define a foundation for processing metadata and to provide a standard metadata infrastructure for both the Web and the enterprise. The difference between the two is that XML is used to transport data using a common format, while RDF is layered on top of XML defining a broad category of data. When the XML data is declared to be of the RDF format, applications are then able to understand the data without understanding who sent it.

RDF extends the XML model and syntax to be specified for describing either resources or a collection of information. (XML points to a resource in order to scope and uniquely identify a set of properties known as the schema.)

RDF metadata can be applied to many areas, including SOA. One example would be searching for data, and cataloging data and relationships. RDF is also able to support new technology (such as intelligent software agents and exchange of content rating).

RDF itself does not offer predefined vocabularies for authoring metadata. However, the W3C does expect standard vocabularies to emerge once the infrastructure for metadata interoperability is in place. Anyone, or any industry, can design and implement a new vocabulary. The only requirement is that all resources be included in the metadata instances using the new vocabulary.

I've always thought RDF has been underutilized for data integration, and it's really an old standard. Now that we're focused on both understanding and integrating data, perhaps RDF should make a comeback.

1 Comment


Tough you have responded to Kingsley in [1], I'd expect from a professional to change factual errors in an analysis. I seriously ask you to invest the time to update the post at hand as it is really full of inaccuracies and doesn't help newbies to grok the problems. We are investing a considerable amount of time in the linked data and related domains (RDFa, OWL, etc.) to outreach and teach people - please support us or at least don't make our life hard as it already is ;)


[1] http://www.ebizq.net/blogs/linthicum/2009/01/the_joys_of_blogging_rdf.php

Industry expert Dave Linthicum tells you what you need to know about building efficiency into the information management infrastructure

David Linthicum

David Linthicum is the CTO of Blue Mountain Labs, and an internationally known distributed computing and application integration expert. View more


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