Haystack: A Platform for Authoring End User Semantic Web Applications

Dennis Quan, David Huynh, and David R. Karger

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
200 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139 USA


Abstract. The Semantic Web promises to open innumerable opportunities for automation and information retrieval by standardizing the protocols for metadata exchange. However, just as the success of the World Wide Web can be attributed to the ease of use and ubiquity of Web browsers, we believe that the unfolding of the Semantic Web vision depends on users getting powerful but easy-to-use tools for managing their information. But unlike HTML, which can be easily edited in any text editor, RDF is more complicated to author and does not have an obvious presentation mechanism. Previous work has concentrated on the ideas of generic RDF graph visualization and RDF Schema-based form generation. In this paper, we present a comprehensive platform for constructing end user applications that create, manipulate, and visualize arbitrary RDF-encoded information, adding another layer to the abstraction cake. We discuss a programming environment specifically designed for manipulating RDF and introduce user interface concepts on top that allow the developer to quickly assemble applications that are based on RDF data models. Also, because user interface specifications and program logic are themselves describable in RDF, applications built upon our framework enjoy properties such as network updatability, extensibility, and end user customizability—all desirable characteristics in the spirit of the Semantic Web.

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