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Idea, Linked Data

Towards Web-based SPARQL query management and execution

Every now and then I use SPARQL queries to learn about a Linked Data source, to debug an RDF document such as a FOAF file or to demonstrate the usage of Web Data.

Quite often I write the SPARQL queries from the scratch, I have some examples stored in some project folders along with the source code, or I might look-up stuff in Lee‘s wonderful SPARQL By Example slide set.

Another issue I have is that though there are a few public, generic SPARQL endpoints and a Wiki page with a list of SPARQL endpoints, I need to consult these manually in order to tell where (and how) I can execute a query.

With all the know-how we have in the Web of Data, with vocabularies and more, shouldn’t it be possible to offer a more developer-friendly environment to manage and execute SPARQL queries?

I guess so.

Before Easter, Richard and I discussed these issues, especially the problem that the endpoints slightly vary in terms of interfaces and execution. I’d like to share my findings with you, my dear reader: there are not that many solutions out there, yet. Leigh has worked on Twinkle, a Java-based desktop client wrapping ARQ that provides much of the functionality I’d need. Then, I gathered that Melvin has started to work on SPARQL.me, a Web-based solutions that allows to store and execute SPARQL queries, supporting FOAF+SSL for log-in, etc. – very close to what I was looking for, already, though I’m still missing certain features (esp. re the description of the SPARQL queries themselves, handling of the execution, etc.).

As I was not aware of Melvin’s work upfront (my bad, he did tell us about it earlier this year) I thought I give it a try myself. The result is called omniQ, it’s an experimental service that allows you to store and execute SPARQL queries in a collaborative fashion. The goal would be to compile a library of queries to enable people to utilise them for different purposes (as described above for my cases, I bet there are more out there). Further, omniQ exposes the SPARQL queries in RDFa (example), allowing for syndication and structured queries over queries. Fun, isn’t it ? 😉

I’d like to hear your thoughts. Are you aware of any other (Web-based) SPARQL query management and execution environments? What other features would you expect? What more could we describe concerning the queries itself?


About woddiscovery

Web of Data researcher and practitioner


11 thoughts on “Towards Web-based SPARQL query management and execution

  1. This is great, Michael!

    I think the next thing to do is add community support, each use each query as the subject of a discussion — reviews, comments, etc — the way Google does with Desktop Gadgets or myExperiment does with workflows.


    Posted by John Erickson | 2010-04-09, 16:11
    • Brilliant idea, John. I guess I’ll implement the review/comment part in the executing phase. So whenever someone executes a query against a certain endpoint, she can comment on the result/quality.

      Posted by woddiscovery | 2010-04-11, 10:20
  2. Nice.

    Same principles have driven iSPARQL and how it lets you share Meshups (basically URLs for actual Query Results or Query Source), since its creation in 2006 🙂

    At my very first Linked Data Gathering in Cambridge, it was my hope that Linked Data sessions would ultimately be about sharing a single LINK (Generic HTTP URI variant) and then having people showcase their tools by doing different things with said LINK. Basically, the LINK becomes a baton and each presenter is one participant in a Linked Data Utility Demonstration relay.


    1. http://wikis.openlinksw.com/dataspace/owiki/wiki/OATWikiWeb/InteractiveSparqlQueryBuilder – iSPARQL Query Builder Home Page
    2. http://bit.ly/bBbjxs — Results Page Link (you can edit the URL to change components of the query)
    3. http://bit.ly/bJrK0G — Query Page Link (puts you in the Editor)
    4. http://delicious.com/kidehen/meshup — iSPARQL meshup collection


    Posted by Kingsley Idehen | 2010-04-09, 16:34
    • Thank, Kingsley. I was told about iSPARQL, IIRC by Melvin. However, when I tried it back then it was down, hence I was not able to test it.

      Looks very impressive and feature-rich, as all OpenLink products, but might be overwhelming for casual users.

      What makes me wonder is: if it has been around since 2006 I’d expect that it is widely known and used. Though, I really can’t tell about the numbers of queries iSPARQL manages, less about the number of users. Maybe you can fill in some numbers here?

      Anyway, thanks again for your comment. Good to see that there are more solutions available than I initially thought 😉

      Posted by woddiscovery | 2010-04-11, 10:25
  3. Hi, Micheal,

    A very interesting topic. To me, it is difficult if not impossible for developers to pick up the schema behind the exposed sparql endpoint, who are aimed to writing appropriate patterns in the WHERE block and getting some valuable data back. Actually, the endpoint creator has the responsibility of giving representative cooked queries which can be reused or revised by other developers because nobody understand the employed schema better than the creator him\herself. I guess there need be intermediate exchangeable modules (in particular format) in which sparql queries can be wrapped along with a human-readable comments. The omments to the modules is just like .jar files and java-docs. (sounds crazy) 🙂

    Posted by Xi Bai | 2010-04-09, 22:33
    • Indeed, Xi Bai, I think you have a very valid point, there. However, I don’t know if it is wise to limit the action to the endpoint provider (why not utilising the wisdom of the crowd for it?)

      With my attempt to describe the queries (their components such as vocabularies used, topics, etc.) I think one of the directions actually is to enable the scenario you mention. Probably in a more decentralised, Web-ish way, but, in essence, yes, we’re on the same page.

      Posted by woddiscovery | 2010-04-11, 10:30
  4. We share the motivation!
    Soon we will release a Firefox add-on of MashQL (a Yahoo Pipes’s style but at the client side, and for RDF/SPARQL), see some early screen shots here:

    Comments are very welcome!

    Posted by Mustafa Jarrar | 2010-04-12, 15:55
  5. “…shouldn’t it be possible to offer a more developer-friendly environment to manage and execute SPARQL queries?”
    IO informatics recently demo’ed their knowledge explorer software which allows for construction of SPARRQL queries graphically.It is an easy to use tool that simplifies the creation of queries and also displays and connect elements that are relevant and filters complex data and data relationships.
    The URL is:http://www.io-informatics.com/products/sentient-KE.html

    Posted by Ranjana Srivastava | 2010-04-16, 16:22
  6. Michael, what do you think of my project:

    It was designed as a generic SPARQL results visualizer and datastore.

    Posted by Martynas Jusevicius | 2010-07-26, 12:39


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