Semantic Web, DataViewer

The next version of the Zitgist Browser: enhancing users experience

I have been to Boston last week and I finally met many people of the semantic web community; people I was working with for more than one year now. I had a great time with them talking about the semweb, where it is up to now; what are the next challenges, etc. One of the activities I attended to is the RDF and DBMS integration workshop in Cambridge; Presentations (slides) are available here.

However one question was asked from time to time: what Zitgist is developing now? What are you guys working on at the moment?

Well, on many things. The latest release by Zitgist has been zLinks; but our developments efforts havenít been restricted to zLinks. So, what are these other things? Well, one of them is the second version of the Zitgist Browser.

I think the current version of the browser is good; but it is not good enough. After using it for some time, we outlined a list of things that has to be fixed/developed to increase the usability of the browser and the user experience. So we focused our efforts on three points:

  1. Adding features to help users manage the overload of information published for some URIs.
  2. Speeding up the browser and giving more feedbacks to users when URIs are being analyzed and documents constructed.
  3. Changing the templating system to make them easier, and faster to develop; and to add flexibility to handle some properties of some, a priori, unsupported types by the browser.

The goal of this coming release is simple: enhancing users experience of browsing RDF data.

The challenge is not an easy one. First, people can describe anything in RDF. Some RDF documents are not valid according to restrictions of some ontologies. Others are some kinds of bags describing, anything and everything at the same time. Some URIs are really rich in information and are well linked; others are really poor and are not linked at all. Some documents are megabytes long. Etc.

The challenge is to create a system that evaluate all these different resource(s) at the same level and try to present the information in the same useful way. In some cases users have to get tools to manage the information overload of some data sources; but in all cases the information displayed to users has to be quickly accessible and understandable by humans.

These are the goals we focused on for the development of the next version of the Zitgist Browser. This is what you will be able to experience in the next weeks or so. I think that this next version will be a good step in that direction. But in any case, the challenge is just starting.

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