Archive for June, 2010

Semantic hacking: RDF in Perl


Last week, I attended the German Perl Workshop 2010. It was a fun event and I’ll write more on it in the next post.

I gave a 20-minute presentation there called “Semantisches Hacking: RDF in Perl‎”. At Swiss-Prot, we do all our RDF work in Java, but I got interested in how things look on the Perl side, and the Biohackathon in February got me started on exploring that.

Executive summary: The RDF-in-Perl community is organized at, and the core of the available modules is RDF::Trine and RDF::Query by Gregory Williams. For example code, have a look at my simple demo scripts.

At the workshop, I had an audience of about 50-100 people, none of whom had ever worked with RDF or seriously looked into it. So I first introduced RDF in the simplest way possible, as there wasn’t much time, then showed off RDF::Trine and RDF::Query with code examples.

The talk was well received, and I had some interesting conversations afterward where people wanted to know more about RDF. Their questions mainly centered around ontologies/vocabularies, the additional time required to do this properly, and how to build an app on top of a triple store. I had talked about integrating RDF into existing apps in my presentation, for instance using Trine’s support for RDFa, as_hashref, JSON and other possibilities.

Here are the links to the slides (in German), the scripts I took the code snippets from, and the workshop page for the talk.

I think I managed to raise some awareness for RDF and, and an understanding of the core ideas in an audience where almost no one had had any exposure to these topics, and showed some example code in a way the audience seemed to be able to follow, so I’d say it was a success.

Links, where Perl is very much alive


Yeah, I guess my weekly links effort didn’t go so well. Nevertheless, I do still collect interesting links, so let’s restart with a less ambitious irregular series of “Links” posts.

Many programmers today consider Perl to be dying. That is because they read too many shiny new Ruby and Javascript blogs, instead of checking out what the Perl community is actually up to. Damian Conway says it way better than I could.

The slogan of the day, of recent years actually, in the Perl world is Modern Perl. Once you’re ready to get started yourself, get brian d foy’s timely new Effective Perl Programming.

And if you miss the good old days of obfuscated Perl, see the nice Hidden features of Perl collection. You will also find some serious, readable and useful tricks.