W3C Approves Pair of Semantic Web Specs

The World Wide Web Consortium says the approval of the Resource Description Framework and the Web Ontology Language as W3C recommendations is likely to be one of the consortium's most important announcements this year.

The World Wide Web Consortium has announced the approval of two Semantic Web technologies as standards.

Janet Daly, a spokeswoman for the W3C, of Cambridge, Mass., said the approval of the Resource Description Framework (RDF) and the Web Ontology Language (OWL) as W3C recommendations is likely to be one of the W3Cs most important announcements this year. RDF and OWL set a framework for sharing and reuse of data on the Web, as well as for asset management and enterprise integration.

Tim Berners-Lee, director of the W3C and inventor of the Web, said in a statement: "Its not unlike the early days of the Web, when once people saw how it worked, they understood its power. Were entering that phase now, where people can see the beginnings of the Semantic Web at work."

The Semantic Web is an extension of the Web where information is assigned greater meaning and data can be used for automation, integration and reuse, W3C officials said Tuesday in announcing the approval of the specifications.

Using RDF and OWL content developers can connect metadata with documents to enable better search capabilities. Other enhanced capabilities include the ability to integrate enterprise applications and better manage Web sites.

W3C officials said XML, RDF and OWL set the foundation for the Semantic Web. XML sets rules for syntax for structured documents, RDF adds a way to provide descriptive information, and OWL represents a language for creating domain-specific vocabularies for various subjects.

Although the news of the W3C approval of RDF and OWL is important, the bigger issue is the flurry of industry support around the specifications, according to Daly.

The W3C issued testimonials from 24 companies, universities and organizations supporting the standards.

"As the leading provider of content creation tools to help people communicate better, adding intelligence to media via metadata was integral to our strategy," David Burkett, director of product management at Adobe Systems Inc., said in a statement.

Mark Greaves, program manager of the Defense Departments Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), said in a statement: "We view OWL as a major advancement for the Semantic Web, and have been using it extensively as part of our ongoing work to develop Semantic Web tools, rules and services."

And Alfred Spector, IBMs vice president of services and software, said in a statement: "Our research work with the Semantic Web has the potential to open the Internet to even more powerful applications. Within IBM we have many active research projects working with both RDF and OWL. Our first public Semantic Web project, SnoBase … is a framework for loading ontologies from files and using the Internet for locally creating, modifying, querying and storing ontologies. It provides a mechanism for querying ontologies and an easy-to-use programming interface for integrating with vocabularies of standard ontology specification languages including RDF, RDF Schema and OWL."