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CMS dev communities starting to take stock in RDF

DrupalCon Brussels Report
A spontaneous invitation to DrupalCon got me driving to Brussels yesterday to finally meet the CivicActions folks I've been working for during the last months. Unfortunately, I missed Jonathan Hendler's NINA presentation about adding ARC's SPARQL API to Drupal for building a faceted browser, but we chatted quite a bit about it after lunch. I still have to learn a lot about Drupal, but one of the really interesting things is that it provides an extension called Content Construction Kit (CCK) that simplifies defining flexible forms and their elements. Drupal generates an HTML page for every resource ("node" in Drupal-speak) created via CCK. The thing that's missing is mapping the structured CCK nodes to RDF to enable optimized SPARQL querying while keeping editing simple and integrated. We discussed the potential of not only ex- but also importing RDF data into CCK. And how cool it could be to directly convert RDFS/OWL to CCK field definitions. Good news is that there are several hooks to RDF-enhance Drupal without running into synchronization issues or forcing the replacement of built-in components.

CivicActions was a gold sponsor and Dan Robinson introduced me to some of the core Drupal developers. And as it turned out, some of them are already thinking about direct RDF support for Drupal (partly triggered by TimBL using Drupal for blogging, partly because Drupal's internal structure isn't really far away from a graph-based model). I'm aware of three efforts now to add RDF to Drupal in some way, there may be more.

But it's not only the Drupal crowd which is looking at SemWeb technology. At lunch, I met Johan Janssens, lead developer of the Mambo spin-off Joomla!, who told me about a SemWeb project proposal for their 2006 Google Summer of Code. (There is another one in the ideas section.) The project took more than just this summer (welcome to RDF development ;), and the outcome is not going to be added to Joomla! anytime soon, but obviously the PHP community is getting aware of RDF's potential benefits and is starting to play with RDF, OWL, and SPARQL. And it's approaching the SemWeb from a practical point of view which just can't be bad.


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