Z39.50/RDF Integration Project

Thursday September 16th, 1999

A project documented at aims to integrate Mozilla's RDF capability with the ANSI/NISO Z39.50 specification for information retrieval in a client/server environment. The Z39.50 protocol is used in many bibliographic and digital library applications, and the project aims to make it possible to query the thousands of Z39.50 connected servers from Mozilla, with the results appearing in Mozilla's sidebar. This is another great project brought to you by that supposedly non-existent group of third-party Mozilla developers. One of the project's contacts works for the Z39.50 Maintenance Agency. Good qualification, I would think.

Thanks to Joerg Beierle for the news.

#8 Z39.50/RDF Integration Project

by Anon

Saturday September 18th, 1999 11:04 AM

You are replying to this message

As the initiator of the Z39.50/RDF project, let me just pop up here to say a few words about this work.

Firstly, there is very little the Z39.50 and broader metadata community can do to help stabilise core Mozilla, other than submit bugfixes. Secondly, I personally believe that this and similar projects play an important role for Mozilla. More important than the additional functionality that we're working towards is the sanity check involved with having external developers understand the work of the Netscape engineers. By showing how easy (or hard) it is for outsiders to pick this stuff up and run with it, we aim to tap into the expertise of several wider communities.

The RDF 'Enabling Inference' page I put together is a similar example. Within 7 days of proposing this project, someone had created a logic-rules aware plugin for the RDF system in Mozilla. This does several things: it sanity checks the documentation, shows the feasibility of non-netscape developers building interesting and genuinely new information management tools on the RDF/Mozilla core, and brings the open standards (eg. RDF, Dublin Core, Z39.50) and open source communities a little bit closer together.

I appreciate the 'why bloat out Mozilla when it still is pre-beta' aspect; please remember that these plugins are optional and (for now) exploratory, and are funded by outside effort. The Z39.50 work is at an early stage but has prompted a fair bit of discussion offlist, which should be moved into a more visible forum. There is a huge amount of programming talent in the Z39.50 and digital library community, and an unrivalled wealth of information locked up in Z39.50 datasources.

The Z39.50 project page was the first of three that I've added to the RDF section of the Mozilla site (<>). All of which (Z39.50, Dublin Core, Inference) are exploring the idea that we can tap into external expertise through using RDF as a common information marketplace. Mozilla right now reflects all RDF datasource (bookmarks, history etc) via an RDF API into Javascript. Things seem to be getting stable enough for other groups to make significant contributions...



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