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September 12, 2007

GRDDL to W3C Recommendation

The W3C announced yesterday that the Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Languages (GRDDL) specification has been given the status of W3C Recommendation.

What GRDDL does is quite simple: it defines mechanisms for associating an XML document with an algorithm that can be used to extract RDF data from that document - typically an XSLT transformation which generates RDF/XML. And it allows such an association to be made not only for an individual document, but for a class of documents, based on the XML Namespace Name of the root XML element, or, for XHTML documents, on a metadata profile URI. Data created with microformats, for example, - as long as the source document uses a metadata profile, of course - becomes accessible to generic RDF processors without requiring them to have built-in knowledge of the idiosyncrasies of the different markup conventions.

This capacity to define transformations for entire classes of documents, and to have those transformations associated with the individual instances without any additional effort on the part of the creators of those instances, is, I think, what makes GRDDL both very elegant and very powerful: sometimes the simple specs turn out to be the most useful ones!

And from closer to home, I'm pleased to see that a testimonial has been provided by Mikael Nilsson and Tom Baker on behalf of the DCMI Architecture Forum, emphasising the critical contribution GRDDL makes in the way Dublin Core metadata (and indeed other metadata) is implemented:

GRDDL is an essential tool in bridging the various expressions of Dublin Core metadata, and DCMI is creating GRDDL transforms that expose Dublin Core metadata expressed in XML and HTML to the Semantic Web.

By standardizing the transformation mechanisms, GRDDL allows for syntactic choices while enabling semantic interoperability -- both important needs in the metadata community -- and as such is fundamental to the future evolution of the Web.


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