Fascinating news coming from Microsoft Research. They are showcasing for the first time their “research-output” repository platform at the upcoming Open Repositories 2008 conference.
Here is an excerpt from the blog:
Our goal is to abstract the use of underlying technologies and provide an easy-to-use development model, based on .NET and LINQ, for building repositories on top of robust technologies.
The platform has a “semantic computing” flavor. The concepts of “resource” and “relationship” are first-class citizens in our platform API.
new entities can be introduced into the system (even programmatically) while the existing ones can be further extended through the addition of properties.
The key phrase in the above excerpt is: “The concepts of “resource” and “relationship” are first-class citizens”. Essentially this new platform being released by Microsoft will allow .Net developers to leverage their skills along with LINQ to create linked data clients that can participate in the upcoming linked data Web. The very same linked data Web that Yahoo! has thrown their full support behind.
This is what Semantic Web technology offers today, the ability to create Web scalable applications that can shape themselves to the incoming data. Microsoft is filling a gap between CouchDB and full-blown Semantic Web W3C specs.
Savas Parastatidis is quick to point out that even though they are storing a triple: subject, predicate, object (the basis of RDF), they are not creating a Semantic Web database; instead they are creating a hybrid approach between an RDF triplestore and SQL Server 2008.
They are also using technology from what was supposed to be the Vista “file system of the future” WinFS. This is really exciting because WinFS held a lot of promise and it was disappointing (to say the least) for it never to materialise.
There are already ASP.NET controls providing repository access and WPF and Silverlight controls are in the works to provide the visualisation.
And lastly, I would like to leave you with these words from the blog:
This is crucial to us because—like every other project our group undertakes—we are intensely focused on interoperability.
Pigs are flying and cows are coming home. Microsoft focusing on interoperability and Semantic Web principles. Well done.