Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The RDF vocabulary used throughout the examples for Practical RDF is PostCon, example here, a Post Content information dataset. The plan was that I would finish the book and then finish a Java implementation of PostCon, the application, using PostCon, the vocabulary, before the book hit the street.

What I wasn’t counting on was that I wouldn’t have a Tomcat server to run the Java application on when it was finished. I am running my own server, but it’s shared by other folks and at this point in time, a Tomcat server would be too much for it.

I also wasn’t counting on how tired I was once the book was finished. When you’ve worked on a book for two years, through four major rewrites trying to keep up with changing specifications and attitudes and tools, you get tired. I got tired.

However, PostCon the application begs to be created, and PostCon the vocabulary begs to be used.

So, what is PostCon? PostCon is a vocabulary that records information about a web resource, its movement, whether it’s been replaced, and why, and so on. It’s also an application that will maintain a history of your web content in a form that can be used to redirect HTTP requests when a resource is moved; track history of changes without the necessity of a complex change control system; and provide intelligent error handling when a resource is removed permanently. You can see the early prototype in action with this link.

The application has a user interface that allows one to query the PostCon record for a resource, add to it or modify it, and then persist the changes. Additionally, the application has a web services interface that can be utilized from other applications, such as weblog tools like the one I’m using for this page. Since the information about the change is persisted in a file (RDF/XML) rather than a database, other tools could access this information, such as webbots trying to new resources, or checking to see if a resource is still viable.

The vocabulary is based on RDF, and serialized using RDF/XML, so other vocabularies can be plugged in, simply and easily. Information about the creator is maintained in the PostCon vocabulary and this can be tied to the creator’s FOAF file. If the web resource is a weblog page, trackback information can be used to add PostCon related items for the specific page. For that matter, comments can also be added as part of the history of the resource – after all, a commented weblog posting is different than the posting by itself.

The long and short of it is that I’m returning to working on PostCon, but rather than work on it in the background, I’m going to implement the pieces and document them here in this weblog. This will not only give me incentive to get off my butt and get this done, but it should also, I hope, give me some decent feedback if I’m pursuing a less than efficient implementation strategy.

To start, I’m going to review the PostCon vocabulary one more time, to see how I want to modify it considering new efforts with Pie/Echo/Atom (to be called Atom it seems – thanks to Morbus Iff cutting through the crap – yay Morbus). Next, I’ll implement simple pages that can be used to read in and modify the RDF/XML files for a specific resource. I’ll be implementing these in PHP so that they can be accessed from my server. Later I may translate these to Java and JSP.

Next, I’m creating a second RDF vocabulary, this one to be used by an event queue system. When a resource is moved or removed, not only will the front end update the associated RDF/XML file for the document, it will also update an event queue RDF/XML file, which will then track the actions to be performed on the server side. I prefer this rather than having the front end pages implement file destruction or movement because it’s easier to secure a completely server-side application, then one that’s half front-end, half server.

In addition, by separating this layer of activity out, the application that will take the event queue information and do the actual work can be replaced depending on server-side languages supported, OS, that sort of thing.

I’ll create two versions of the application that processes the event queue – one in Java, one in Perl. The Java application won’t need a Tomcat server (no front end), and I don’t want to focus on just one langauge for this component of the entire system.

The final phase of implementing PostCon will be creating web services that can perform all of the functionality of the front-end interface functionality created in PHP. I’d like to implement these in Python and Perl. Perl because I want to try integrating this into a test copy of Movable Type; and Python because I want to improve my Python skills.

The code will be kept simple, and clean, with no frills. In addition, it’s pure open source, and can be copied, modified, and hopefully improved. When I’m finished, I’ll load all of the code to Source Forge.

I have other things to do, so I’m not going to be whipping this out over the next week, but it should be finished within the next month – knock on wood.

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