Programming
Article
By David Peterson

Drupal 7 – a living breathing Semantic Web citizen

By David Peterson

I have just recently started looking into and actually using Drupal. I installed version 5 on a Linux server and it was amazingly straightforward. Well, the installation was straightforward. I still haven’t totally got my head around actually driving the thing — although from the developments that are going on it definitely looks like I have made the right choice…

Drupal 6 just came out last month and it had a number of changes:

… More features, easier to administer, easier to scale, easier to theme, easier to develop for, more people (developing/contributing) … source

Those changes smell like something big is brewing and that seems even more apparent given recent remarks by the lead developer, Dries Buytaert. Yesterday at Drupalcon 2008 – Boston, Buytaert gave his state of Drupal keynote:

From Network World:

Among the things he discussed was trying to define what comes next, both for Drupal and the Web. If Web 2.0 was about user management and relationships, Web 3.0 will be Web 2.0 plus “infinite interoperability,” he said.

For Drupal, that means becoming an RDF repository, exporter and importer, so that data becomes decentralized and can be accessed by people and computers in whatever format they want, on request, whether XHTML, XML or even JSON, he said.

“We want to allow other people to reuse our data. … Do cool stuff with large amounts of data. It’s just fun, in my view.”

And from Lullablog:


There’s going to be Less focus on functionality — more focus on data
* Integrate data from different sources
* Allow other people to reuse your date
* Decentralize data so that no party owns all the data
* You can do cool stuff with lots of data

“The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.”


DBPedia, US Census data, RDF Book Mashup, W3C WordNet, CIA factbook, FOAF, Musicbrainz.

The opportunity is that every single Drupal site can be an RDF repository that we can start to mash into to semantic web [overlaying Drupal on these websites]

The Social graph just connection people — we have an opportunity to make a graph that connects EVERYTHING.

We’re moving from the World Wide Web (WWW) to the Giant Global Graph. Tim Berners-Lee

This is very exciting to see. A powerful and widely-used Open Source CMS adopting such a forward looking vision. I will be keenly watching and look forward to participating in the development of version 7. Future web sites will become content distributors in their own right, beyond the reach of simple RSS/ATOM feeds.

Drupal 7 looks to fully embrace this idea of a web of linked data where every site becomes a data server in its own right — able to interact and be mashed up with other sites and other data sources. The database itself will be exposed to the Web (using as much or as little security as you want) with the individual fields tagged with semantic meaning; think hCard, hReview, hCalendar, FOAF, etc.


Linking Open Data logo

If you would like to learn more about where Drupal 7 is heading take a look at the Linking Open Data project (the diagram above is from their site). It is an initiative started just over a year ago by a dedicated group that has grown in leaps and bounds. Both in numbers of people and in actual linked data.

I am keen to find out if anyone knows of other major CMS platforms moving in a similar direction: Joomla, Mambo, etc? As issues such as data portability and linked data become more and more pronounced it will be interesting to see if others will follow suit.

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