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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • It looks like an awfully verbose way of saying some very simple things. And I expect that for it to be useful for users they'll need to do XML voodoo. Which is HARD. I just don't see the point of using an obfuscatory format like RDF/RSS/XML/whatever it's called this week, rather than (eg) the output from Data::Dumper or YAML. Maybe I'm missing something.
    • I should probably have explained this a little more. I got really confused and all negative about RDF until recently. The main problem is that it's all in XML and that scares everyone, but RDF is really all about triples: subject, predicate, object. It just so happens that the most common serialisation format at the moment is in XML.

      So an interesting triple would be "LBROCARD" "is the author of" "Acme-Buffy-1.2". Or, in the RDF fragment about Acme-Buffy-1.2: "<cpan:id>LBROCARD</cpan:id>". Noti

      • You still have to make guesses about what a is, surely? At some point, a human has to decide that LBROCARD is the person who wrote Acme::Buffy, and that it's not some other random identifying feature like an ASCII-fied checksum.
        • That's what RDF vocabularies are for.

          If you stick

          xmlns:foaf="http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/"

          in the RDF declaration, that lets you do something like this:

          <cpan:author>
              <cpan:id>EMARTIN</cpan:id>
              <foaf:name>Earle Martin</foaf:name>
              <foaf:mbox_sha1sum>8699ba79a95abf86e0055c133bf5d87ceab921e9</foaf:mbox_sha1s um>
          </cpan:author>

          Of course, there's going to have to be a CPAN vocabula

          • Still needs a human to read, parse and understand the fact that <foo> represents a FOO in the real world, and to write the code to handle FOOs correctly. That is, it requires just as much work as understanding what 'author' means in a structure such as:

            $VAR1 = { 'author' => 'Sheerluck Holmes', 'title' => 'true crimes and how to avoid them' }

            or a YAML equivalent.

            Using XML-ish things does not help to define what your data is, regardless of what it says on the bottle of Kool-aid.

            • Oh, OK, maybe I didn't follow your meaning. I wasn't meaning to imply that using RDF (and in the vocabulary itself, OWL [w3.org]) would actually define what the data is. But yes, isn't that always going to be the case, until we have smart computers? At the moment, the closest thing to "encapsulated meaning" we have is Cyc [opencyc.org], and that's a long way off from being the real thing. RDF vocabularies, as you say, are good for defining relationships between things.

              I don't think, though, that RDF was ever intended to be human-readable; it needs to be parsed in some way. What kind of application were you thinking of for the metadata?

              • I always try to either use something that is explicitly designed to be human-readable, like Data::Dumper (with purity and indent style 2) or more recently YAML; or something which cares not about being human-readable, such as Storable or some other binary format. RDF/RSS/XML, because it's ASCII, looks like it's meant to be human-readable, so I try to read it and get irritated.