RDF work and backwards compat

Axel Hecht axel at pike.org
Tue, 01 Nov 2005 12:22:45 +0100

Benjamin Smedberg wrote:

> Axel Hecht wrote:
>> I have been doing some thinking about the progress of the RDF engine, 
>> and backwards compat is becoming a blocker on the road.
> There is another option, which is to drop RDF from "the platform" 
> altogether. Tbird (and suite) could keep shipping the current code in 
> mozilla/rdf because they're so tied up in it. With the bookmarks and 
> history rewrites, and the XUL templating engine to support XML and 
> data-driven templates, Firefox and the platform don't really need RDF 
> for anything useful. I think with a little work we could use an little 
> RDFXML importer written in JS to migrate the existing uses of RDF 
> (mimetypes, extension manager) and then just drop core RDF support 
> entirely.

Actually, I'd argue the other way around. The History and Bookmarks 
overhaul is getting us much closer to Aurora (take a smiling look at 
http://www.mozilla.org/xpapps/aurora/) than we have been for about half 
a decade. And that was actually the reason for Netscape to implement RDF 
in the first place, AFAICT. I'm seeing quite a few APIs floating around 
on wiki.m.o to add metadata to URLs, and they're not really a lot 
simpler than the RDF apis as of now.

If you take a look at http://wiki.mozilla.org/Annotations,

nsIVariant getAnnotation(in nsIURI aURI, in wstring aName);

with a namespaced string for the name is just RDF. We may not call it 
that way, but that doesn't change what it is. 
(http://wiki.mozilla.org/Bookmarks_Data_API is even more involved, I 
tried to understand it, I should try again.)

If we have a problem with our API being taylored to our internal 
datastructure (as the current RDF API is, and as the new proposed API is 
to a similar extent), then maybe it's a better idea to actually make a 
bold statement on what a database-backed storage could provide, which of 
that we wanted to use and then design an API around that, without 
porting the current mozilla/rdf to that.

I'm not arguing that RDF is the cow that can shit golden bullets, but 
from our UI, we're moving in that direction, I just wonder why giving 
the cow a new name.

Mentioning Aurora, does anyone remember (or remembers someone who may 
know) why Aurora didn't succeed? It may be nice to incorporate that 
experience into our design discussions.