Something I’ve taken it upon myself to do since I joined Talis is make ActiveRDF a viable client to access the Platform.  While this is mostly selfishness on my part (I want to keep developing in Ruby and there’s basically no RDF support right now, plus this gives me a chance to learn about the RDF/SPARQL-y aspects of the Platform), I also think that libraries like this can only help democratize the Platform.

So far, it’s been pretty ugly.  I haven’t had much time to work on it, granted, but the time I’ve spent on it has made me think that there will be a lot of work to do.  Couple this with some of the things that make the Platform difficult to work with in Ruby anyway (read: Digest Authentication) and this might be a more uphill battle than I’ll ever have time for, but I figure it’s either this or go back to Python and I’m not quite ready to give up on Ruby yet.

Currently, performance is abysmal with ActiveRDF against the Platform, so I’ll need to think of shortcuts to improve that (I’m not even considering write access presently).  Here’s some code (this is as much for my benefit, so I can remember what I’ve done) to work with Ian Davis’ Quotations Book Example store:

require ‘time’ # Otherwise ActiveRDF starts freaking out about DateTime
require ‘active_rdf’

$activerdf_without_xsdtype = true
# less than ideal, but without it, ActiveRDF sends
# ^^<> with string literals even if you don’t want
# to send the datatype.  I haven’t actually tried it with other datatypes to see how this breaks
# down the road.

ConnectionPool.set_data_source(:type => :sparql, :results => :sparql_xml, :engine=>:joseki,  :url=> “”)

Namespace.register :foaf, “”
Namespace.register :dc, “”
Namespace.register :quote, “”

QUOTE::Quotations.find_by_dc::creator(“Loren, Sophia”).each do | quote |

# print the important stuff from each graph

# has to be manually added as a predicate
# the “#” seems to cause problems
quote.add_predicate(:quote, QUOTE::quote)
puts quote.quote
puts quote.subject
puts quote.rights
puts quote.isPrimaryTopicOf


If you actually try to execute this, you’ll see that it takes a long time to run (God help you if you try it on QUOTE::Quotations.find_by_dc::subject(“Age and Aging”)).  A really long time.

If you set some environment vars before you go into irb:

$ export ACTIVE_RDF_LOG=./activerdf.log

then you can tail -f activerdf.log and see what exactly is happening.

After ActiveRDF does it’s initial SPARQL query (SELECT DISTINCT ?s WHERE { ?s <> “Loren, Sophia” . }), it’s doing two things for every request in the block:

  1. a SPARQL query for every predicate associated with the URI (
  2. a SPARQL query for the value of the attribute (predicate):

for every predicate in the graph.  You can imagine how crazily inefficient this is, since to get every value for a resource, you have to make a different HTTP request for each one.

Obviously this would be a lot easier if it used DESCRIBE rather than SELECT, but without a real RDF library to parse the resulting graph, I’m not sure how ActiveRDF would deal with what the triple store returned.

So, anyway, these are some of the hurdles in making ActiveRDF work with the Platform, but I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel, yet.