Semantic Web, Structured Dynamics, OSF for Drupal, OSF Web Services

Re-Introduction

I haven’t been active on this blog for more than half a year now. I was telling myself that I was too busy coding to write anything meaningful to my readers. I did write a couple of things, but nothing of importance related to all the things I was working on. I did publish announcements and such, but didn’t really take the time to write about these things. A lot of things have been done and published recently, but little has been said. So, lets try to rectify the shot so that I share more about what I am currently working on, the concepts I am playing with, the systems I am releasing, etc. So, lets restart to write about these things that I really do believe in, and that I put all my time, efforts and energy in. Lets restart writing about things that I do believe in and that are valuable to me.

As you probably know, my company Structured Dynamics released a series of products: structWSF and conStruct. I spent the last six months developing these two products. However, what are they? Why did I spend all my time working on these products? Why does they matter? Why do I think that they are valuable?

Let me outline what they are, what they do and what they are useful at. Then think if they could be of any value to you, your organizations, your enterprises, etc.

StructWSF

StructWSF is a web services framework (WSF) that basically does four things: it ingest, manage, interact with and publish data. What kind data? Any kind of data

Ingesting: the aim is to be able to ingest data from any data source (so data formatted using any language, or described using any vocabularies/schemas techniques). The framework has to be able to ingest any data that come from any data sources with a single conversion step.

Managing: the aim is to be able to manage the data. Managing the data means being able to collectively (with permissions and authentication) manage datasets available in a framework instance. Being about the create, modify, delete or update data. It also means being able to browse and search the data. It means making it publicly available, or to restrict its access to a user or group of users. This means merging datasets together too.

Interacting: but there is another facet to data management. We don’t only want to be able to manage data in a locked system. What we want is to be able to manage its data from anywhere. It can be from my browse, from my website, from some other applications on my desktop, from my home, from my office: from anywhere. All functions of a structWSF instance are accessible as web services endpoints. This means that you can perform any action, on your data, from anywhere you want: from a conStruct node or from a local Curl query. This is I think how people / organizations want to be able to manage the data they create and curate data.

Publishing: like ingesting, we want to be able to publish, to communicate the data we create to other people, other organizations or other entities. We want to do this in such a way that these external entities doesn’t have to recreate/reinvent themselves. We want to be able to communicate data the way they understand it: using any format and any vocabulary/schema.

The mindset behind structWSF is the following: we can ingest any kind of data, we can manage that data in multiple ways, we can interact with that data from anywhere and we can publish-back this data in any ways. structWSF is friction less in the sense of data communication between systems, users and entities.

conStruct

conStruct is just a skin over one, or multiple, structWSF instances. The conStruct software is an example of how a system can interact with a structWSF data provider. conStruct is a suite of generic tools that can be used to search, browse, visualize (template), import, export, create, delete and update data. All these tools interact with one or multiple structWSF functions by using their web service endpoints.

Since conStruct can interact with a single structWSF instance, it can also interact with multiple structWSF instances. That means that conStruct can be a user interface that communicates with multiple data providers (structWSF instances) and display all the results, from all these providers, in a canonical user interface.

But as I said, conStruct is one skin over structWSF instances. We could think about the integration of structWSF into other CMS systems. We could even think about having different CMS systems integrating with the same structWSF instance(s) so that if one user update/create/delete some data, it appears in other CMS systems as well.

The Magic Twist

However, all this is done with a twist: everything is structured. This means that everything that is in the system has a structure: is described using some vocabularies (full blow ontologies; or naive vocabularies). This enable all kind of valuable functionalities: inferencing capabilities in search and browse activities, filtering on types and attributes, helps integrating different datasets from different systems and organizations.

This is the magic twist that make this system different: everything in there is structured in such a way that everything can be ingested and published in any format; in such a way that basic inferencing or more complex reasoning is possible. It integrates data and let users use it the way they want from where they are. The capabilities are there; use it if you need them.

Next steps

The next steps for me will be to describe the features of the system: how the data is managed, how permissions work, what is the granularity of permissions available, etc. These will be more technical blog posts, but they will give you the full potential of the systems and concepts I have been talking in this blog post.

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