Bookmarking and Sharing Open Data Queries

Over the last few months, I had several aborted attempts at trying to get to grips with SPARQL’n’RDF, two key ingredients in the Linked Data initiative. So as the sort of self-directed learner who often relies on learning by example, I’ve put together a Google form to collect together example SPARQL and Google Spreadsheet (aka Guardian Datastore) queries that I can remix and reuse for my own purposes.

Here’s an example of part of the form:

The form collects a description of the query, its endpoint, and ontologies used in the query, the query itself, and optionally a link to an example output from the query, as well as other bits of info (e.g. there’s a place for a link to a blog post describing the query).

Here are some of the bookmarked queries:

At the moment, the saved queries can only be viewed in the spreadsheet, but with time allowing I hope to build a front end/explorer that will allow you to run the queries, see preview results of the queries etc etc. (Note this is intended as a tool for !astronauts to get started with/teach about/learn about/explore various datasets. Folk who would be put off by first being exposed to the RDF’n’SPARQL, rather than seeing the data in a table, plotted on a chart, etc etc. Remember, most people who see lat/long data in a table do not see in their mind’s eye a map with corresponding markers on it; they see a list of largely meaningless numbers…)

You can find the form here: QUERY Sharing Form and the results here: Example Queries [UPDATE: to reun a query, you need to find the correct endpoint and then use the PREFIX column entries, along with the SPARQL/SELECT common stuff, to run the query

e.g. this is should form the basis of a valid query in the form here:

PREFIX road: <>
PREFIX rdf: <>
PREFIX geo: <>
PREFIX wgs84: <>
PREFIX xsd: <>
SELECT ?point ?lat ?long WHERE {
  ?x a road:Road.
  ?x road:number "M5"^^xsd:NCName.
  ?x geo:point ?point.
  ?point wgs84:lat ?lat.
  ?point wgs84:long ?long.

There aren’t many examples in there at the moment, but the form is an open one and you can use it if you like… I’m also taking suggestions for how to improve the form so that other folk might b tempted into using it… ;-) (Note that I intend to keep tweaking the spreadsheet as I use it in order to make it more useful for me, if no-one else…)

The spreadsheet that collects the results should also be open as a read only document (let me know if you try to us it and have any problems doing so) so fel free to browse through the examples. I intend to put a front end of sorts onto the spreadsheet at some point using the Google Visualisation API,(cf. my original (and currently stalled) Guardian DataStore Explorer), but if you want to beat me to it, go for it :-)

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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