gnowsis alpha release 0.8

Kaiserslautern, 28. September 2004
Hello all <foaf:Person>!

I have the pleasure to announce that we released an alpha version of the Semantic Desktop framework “gnowsis” today. It is published under a BSD compatible license.

gnowsis is a personal semantic web desktop server – for short: a Semantic Desktop. Like a local webserver, that can be seen only by you and that contains your own files, emails, friends and photos.

Some gnowsis features are:

Server Features

* Local RDF Database (Jena Model based)
* Data integration Hub. integrates different Data sources.
* Filesystem adapter
* MP3-ID3 tag adapter (using MP3 Library by Jens Vonderheide)
* Microsoft Outlook adapter
* Mozilla Thunderbird email adapter
* Mozilla Firefox bookmarks adapter
* Java Client API
* full text indexing (using Apache Lucene)
* local webserver for experiments (using Jetty)
* Many RDFS vocabs used

Browser Features

* Browse the local Semantic Desktop
* shows related information for any resource
* Manage your projects using ordinary File Folders
* full text search
* Link anything with drag-drop
* annotate photos and persons

Framework features

* Handy RDF utilities: org.gnowsis.util.*
* Remote Models. Access your jena Models on remote servers like they are local, through the Jena model interface and XML-RPC magic. See org.gnowsis.util.remotemodel
* File backed models with convenience. Have your model save every X seconds to a file! See org.gnowsis.util.filemodel


* RDF data in Gnowsis is read only.
* Stability and performance. This is a research prototype. Don’t use it in commercial projects. This is alpha. Wait a few months and it will be beta.

Gnowsis was developed by me during the last two years. Full credits given here.
The release contains full source and build scripts for ant. Gnowsis was developed using Eclipse/Ant/Apache/…

Generic RDF Browser 2

Recently I blogged about “a generic rdf browser is not possible”. It was good to put this provocative, so some people thought about the idea, too.

Jamie Pitts wrote: “Leo Sauermann explained that a generic RDF browser needs a different display definition for each RDF-schema. This makes a lot of sense. I would add that browser-style applications which truly take advantage of RDF out there will also require something along the lines of a “useage template” for each useage scenario.”

Danny Ayers blogged with something very practical: “From a random snippet of RDF/XML you can still infer quite a few things – what are properties, what are classes. Barest minimum is that you know something is to be treated as a resource or as a literal. That’s infinitely more that you get with arbitrary XML alone (you may know the datatype of something thanks to a schema, but even then you won’t know what the something represents).”

(and Shelley quoted this)

That is similiar to what I do in gnowsis’ browser.

What I want to add is:
If you just have the information “this is a dc:title” than this is not enough. A snippet of RDF (an RDF chunk/subgraph/CBD) to render will most of the time describe one resource. And we have been building applications for many years now that do excatly this (Address books for persons, ERP for order management, photo finder for photos :-). Compiled applications, structured and immovable.
In the web scenario we use HTML to render this information and in the intranet scenario, many applications that were before compiled and client GUI are now intranet applications.

Building applications for certain purposes is a good thing and we should continue this tradition. One UI for photos, one for People, etc. The apple address book is loved by Mac-thusiasts, let them keep it. But RDF-ify it.

So I would continue writing web applications and normal C++ GUI applications BUT use RDF as data source and rendering source. “browsing” can then happen by clicking a “related” button and opening other applications. Same with the web browser.

Generic RDF rendering (as described by danny in short) is useful for NERDS but not for end users. I showed my generic rendering to test users and they couldn’t make anything out of it. Well, probably I am a bad programmer ;-]

I don’t want to build a generic “haystack” like architecture to force every hacker to code her/his UI in XSLT/haystack/XYZ. Keep your code, but make it RDF compatible.

so thats why I fumble around with gnowsis all the time, to see how application integration could work.

btw: 2 hours to alpha release.


ingrid und ich haben gerade die insignien der Freizeit am kamin attachiert. sehr fein geworden.

Kaminverzierung in der neuen Heimat. Hübsch gemacht.


die Aufhängung besteht aus zweckentfremdeten Kleinteilen einer Vorhangstange vom Hornbach.

nebenbei hören wir die ganze zeit den Soundtrack von Udo77.

A generic RDF browser is not possible

I announced an RDF browser some days ago and I have more thoughts about this issue:

A generic RDF browser is not possible.

an RDF browser is possible, but it needs stylesheets.

It cannot be made, it will not be good and it is not needed.

A generic RDF browser is a piece of software that will display RDF like a web-browser. You can see it, read it, click it etc. It should generate a good representation of the contents, but without any rendering instructions (like css or xslt)

XML is also not rendered in a generic way. Never. IF you see xml, it is usually rendered using an XSLT to render it as HTML. But for each XML-Schema you will need a seperate XSLT.

The same with RDF: to render RDF, you need a kind of XSLT for every RDF-Schema around. So what we need is people like Masahide Kanzaki who do great XSLTs for RDF.

And a way to use these XSLTs. They may not actually be XSLT, it also may be a kind of XForms idea. We also need to use the RDF extension for XSLT (f.e. Damians Treehugger).

So: Do not try to make a generic RDF browser. Try to render the concrete RDF example you know of. Build something like FoafNaut.

7 days to gnowsis alpha

seven days until gnowsis alpha release.

Some parts of gnowsis work better now then one year before. Most parts are quite good. The user interface is still bad 🙂

Announcing RDF Browsers is a good thing to do, so I announce the Gnowsis Semantic Web browser!

Next tuesday, you will see the alpha version of Gnowsis “Enquire2” browser which is part of the gnogno ui package.

It can render RDF in a half-intuitive way and can be used to link any resource using a central RDF database. But what rules is DragNDrop support. We can drag-drop files from th e MacOSX finder and windows explorer into gnowsis.

That reminds me of Timothy Falconer’s post about his wife playing solitaire. I like this article very much. My wife also likes to play solitaire very much and on sunday, it opened my eyes: I have to write an application that is used by my wife as frequently as solitaire.

So enquire2 should be a solitaire replacement. My wife tried it out, but it is still too difficult to use. So we will probably have a student program a photo annotation tool to test this solitaire thesis 🙂

btw: 7 days until gnowsis alpha!

semantic web browser announcements…

“So, rumor has it that Google is working on a browser and/or other software to challenge Microsoft. … If true, the folks at Google should get in touch with me… without disclosing too much (yet), we are working on a project (for SRI and DARPA) to build a Java-based fully-semantic open-sourced PIM that grafts Mozilla onto my company’s Semantic Applications Platform. The result is an integrated cross-platform PIM suite comprised of an OWL-ontology-based Web browser, e-mail, calendar, to-do manager, and chat… and that’s just the beginning…”

sounds to me like another haystack to find a needle in 🙂

but it is true, we need a Semantic Browser.

By the way, I can announce something, too….


a new ?game?

“Welcome to the world of Ghyll. The basic idea is that each player takes on the role of a scholar, from before scholarly pursuits became professionalized (or possibly after they ceased to be). You are cranky, opinionated, prejudiced, and eccentric. You are also collaborating with a number of your peers — the other players — on the construction of an encyclopedia about Ghyll.

Despite the fact that your peers are self-important, narrow-minded dunderheads, they are honest scholars. No matter how strained their interpretations are, their facts are accurate as historical research can make them. So if you cite an entry, you have to treat its factual content as true! (Though you can argue vociferously with the interpretation and introduce new facts that shade the interpretation.) “

hm, sounds like scientific progress goes “boink” 😉

twoday now for tu wien university

The Technical University of Vienna has a blogging service for its students.

it was done by the company that also hosts the weblog that you are reading here.

according to the press release:

they plan to enable 15000 students und 2500 Scientific People to start blogging. The project should be accompanied by research initiatives. They are inspired by other universities that also allow blogging.

looks like a good idea to me to generate Semantic Web content.

Military Speak :-)

Ingrid und ich gehen so durch meine NeueHeimat

Dabei muss man wissen, dass in Kaiserslautern die US Luftwaffenbasis Rammstein ganz nah ist. Was insofern ok ist, da die schon seit dem Krieg da sind und einiges hier investieren und Arbeitsplätze schaffen usw… (ok, man könnte hier viel negatives schreiben über Luftwaffenbasen, aber das kann ja jeder).

Lassen wir eher die Fakten sprechen. In einem Viertel, in dem viele Amerikaner leben (was man an den Chryslers in den Vorgärten sieht), finden Ingrid und ich einen Glas-Container.

Einwurf nur für Grünglas. Kein Porzellan, Steingut oder Keramik einwerfen. For American Soldiers: "For Green Glass Only" - by order of the commander

Da stehen zwei Aufschriften, was mensch denn da nun reinwerfen solle, kurz gesagt: Grünglas, ihr affen!.

Auf deutsch steht da:
“Einwurf nur für Grünglas. Kein Porzellan, Steingut oder Keramik einwerfen.”

Auf English:
“For Green Glass Only – by order of the commander”

was der deutsche von natur aus versteht, muss man dem gast aus den USA militärisch befehlen 🙂