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W3C Looks to GRDDL For Semantic Web Sense

The Web of 2006 is a cloud of loosely interconnected bits of information and content.

The dream of the Web's creator, Tim Berners Lee, is to connect the dots in a Semantic Web.

With the help of the in-development W3C GRDDL specification, the Semantic Web takes a step closer to becoming an implementable reality.

The resource descriptions that GRDDL [Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Languages] gleans can be transformed or understood by other applications in a mashup or other application settings.

In more technical terms, GRDDL will extract RDF (Resource Description Framework) data from XML.

With the GRDDL mechanism in place, the XML namespace document declares that namespace associated documents or profiles include data that can be gleaned for further use.

RDF is a W3C specification that was only completed in February 2004. GRDDL is the next layer allowing for RDF to be gleaned and manipulated to connect the Semantic Web.

While the regular Web is about exchanging documents, the Semantic Web is about the interchange of data.

The W3C has been working on GRDDL since at least April 2004 when it first released the GRDDL design as a W3C technical report. This week, the W3C released the first version of the GRDDL specification.

Though the Semantic Web and GRDDL may seem somewhat abstract, the W3C has gone to great lengths to help people understand what it's all about and the use cases where it will fit in.

To that end the W3C has published a GRDDL Primer and a collection of use cases of how to use GRDDL to extract RDF data from XML.

"The way in which GRDDL empowers authors of Web content can be considered somewhat analogous to allowing a non-native speaker to learn the spoken form of a new language first, before attempting to master its written form -- rather than trying to learn both simultaneously," the GRDDL Primer states.

Dan Connolly, a member of the technical staff of the W3C, told internetnews.com that he expects that Semantic Web software vendors and developers will pick up GRDDL fairly quickly so that they can take advantage of the data from microformats and structured blogging.

"I expect some microformats developers to pick up GRDDL and Semantic Web tools as they reach limitations of dealing with microformats one at a time and as the appeal of a consistent model for data across a variety of domains grows.

W3C is not quite done yet with GRDDL though. Currently it's only at the specification phase.

"The Working Group is resolving technical issues and developing a test suite and tutorial materials," Connolly explained. "Our plan is to finish the W3C Recommendation process sometime in the first quarter of 2007, give or take."