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Wonder Twin Powers Activate (Form of a Lump of Coal)

Or: RDF/XML must die.

So, after a little bit of thought I decided to use RDF for the so-called “w5” application 's config file. I did this because there may eventually be support for multiple protocols. I like having a single description for each protocol and referencing it from within each service description. Then I can simply poll an rdflib instance for service subjects whose protocol predicate matches [insert protocol URI here]. And, you know, if there was only ever a single suitable application for XML it would be config files .

There's the rub; here's the salt.

After deciding to use RDF I spent a little more time and tried to develop a representation for the config file that would be terse and easy enough that a lowly human could read it. More importantly they could massage it by hand or a separate program. Every day I am annoyed that there doesn't seem to be any way to massage my web browser's bookmark file and then kick the program so that it will load the new data in to memory rather than overwriting my changes when it quits.

Maybe you want to pull down your best friend's list of random image servers and add them to your own. Via a cron job. Transparently, while the so-called “w5” application is running. Whatever, that's your business. It's not a hard problem and you should be able to do it.

So, that decided, I plodded away on other things and tried to ignore that which I knew was coming. This isn't the first time I've tried to create an RDF friendly XML application and I know that if the two play at all, they don't play fairly . But sweet Jesus I was not prepared for rdflib to read this and then serialize it as this .

What collective brain-freeze gripped the RDF weenies that they so blithely assumed generating multiple representations of the same data as disconnected as these was a good thing? Or that it should be allowed to happen at all? Please, don't say it. I know that an RDF thingy is a directed graph and that there are different ways of showing the data and that this is a Feature. And I know that it's only supposed to be handled by machines and persons of a Higher Order, which is bit like saying, circa 1992, that web pages will only be edited in WYSIWYG applications.

But to my nave eyes the only design goal for XML that the RDF weenies paid any attention when they wrote the spec for RDF/XML was #10 : Terseness in XML markup is of minimal importance. All the other points on that list were seemingly overlooked by the desire to feed our new Robot Overlords.

The point is that RDF/XML essentially mandates that you have an RDF parser in order to manipulate any of that fancy meta-data you've collected. Anything else and there's just too much room for error in interpretation, whether it's done by an XML parser or a human being. I have nothing against machine processing, per se, but when it prevents actual people from doing the same by hand that's just a Bug.

Damn it Jim, I'm your friend — not a node!

Or a lump of coal.


Somewhere between game 6 and game 7 “I was having fun at the tech plenary in France and someone else was at the dentist...”