A semantic Web primer by G Antoniou; Frank Van Harmelen

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By G Antoniou; Frank Van Harmelen

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Hendler, and O. Lassila. The Semantic Web. Scientific American 284 (May 2001): 34-43. An inspirational book about the history (and the future) of the Web is • T. Berners-Lee, with M. Fischetti. Weaving the Web. San Francisco: Harper, 1999. Many introductory articles on the Semantic Web are available online. Here we list a few: • T. Berners-Lee. Semantic Web Road Map. September 1998. html>. • T. Berners-Lee. Evolvability. March 1998. html>. • T. Berners-Lee. What the Semantic Web Can Represent. September 1998.

It is no longer necessary to write separate parsers, editors, pretty printers, and so on, to obtain a separate syntax, as was required for DTDs; any XML will do. An even more important improvement is the possibility of reusing and refining schemas. XML Schema allows one to define new types by extending or restricting already existing ones. In combination with an XML-based syntax, this feature allows one to build schemas from other schemas, thus reducing the workload. Finally, XML Schema provides a sophisticated set of data types that can be used in XML documents (DTDs were limited to strings only).

A machine processing the XML document would be able to deduce that the author element refers to the enclosing book element, rather than having to infer this fact from proximity considerations, as in HTML. An additional advantage is that XML allows the definition of constraints on values (for example, that a year must be a number of four digits, that the number must be less than 3,000). XML allows the representation of information that is also machine-accessible. Of course, we must admit that the HTML representation provides more than the XML representation: the formatting of the document is also described.

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