Getting Started with data.gov.uk… or not…

Go to any of the data.gov.uk SPARQL endpoints (that’s geeky techie scary speak for places where you can run geeky techie datastore query language queries and get back what looks to the eye like a whole jumble of confusing Radical Dance Faction lyrics [in joke;-0]) and you see a search box, of sorts… Like this one on the front of the finance datastore:

So, pop pickers:

One thing that I think would make the SPARQL page easier to use would be to have a list of links that would launch one of the last 10 or queries that had run in a reasonable time, returned more than no results, displayed down the left hand side – so n00bs like me could at least have a chance at seeing what a successful query looked like. Appreciating that some folk might want to keep their query secret (more on this another day…;-), there should probably be a ‘tick this box to keep your query out of the demo queries listing’ option when folk submit a query.

(A more adventurous solution, but one that I’m not suggesting at the moment, might allow folk who have run a query from the SPARQL page on the data.gov.uk site “share this query” to a database of (shared) queries. Or if you’ve logged in to the site, there may be an option of saving it as a private query.)

That is all…

PS if you have some interesting SPARQL queries, please feel free to share them below or e.g. via the link on here: Bookmarking and Sharing Open Data Queries.

PPS from @iand “shouldnt that post link to the similar http://tw.rpi.edu/weblog/2009/10/23/probing-the-sparql-endpoint-of-datagovuk/“; and here’s one from @gothwin: /location /location /location – exploring Ordnance Survey Linked Data.

PPPS for anyone who took the middle way in the vote, then if there are any example queries in the comments to this post, do they help you get started at all? If you voted “what are you talking about?” please add a comment below about what you think data.gov.uk, Linked Data and SPARQL might be, and what you’d like to be able to with them…

4 comments

  1. Pingback: So What Is It About Linked Data that Makes it Linked Data™? « OUseful.Info, the blog…
  2. Chris Wallace

    Tony, I do sympathise with your frustration. I don’t believe that the best way to understand a data set is for every user to build their own conceptual model of the content. To that end I have been occassionally pushing my prototype RDF browser which infers a data model from an RDF store but it seems to not be quite hitting the spot yet. I know it can be improved but I would be interested in feedback.

    http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/xmlwiki/Stromness/induct6.xq

    Efectively it has already done the probing suggested by Tom Morris, Leigh Dodds and others and builds a persistant data model which can then be used to understand the content and as a basis for facetted browsing. I think the data model is not be presented in the most useful way to help construct SPARQL queries yet – any help would be appreciated ( or perhaps tell me (again!) what is fundamentally wrong with it.

  3. Wilm

    Put this in:

    SPARQL:
    SELECT ?s ?p ?o WHERE {?s ?p ?o} LIMIT 5

    Look at what comes back, and then start fixing each variable in the query with some of the URIs you got back (more here from a useful link PeteJ sent around: http://tw.rpi.edu/weblog/2009/10/23/probing-the-sparql-endpoint-of-datagovuk/)

    Chris Wallace’s model builder does indeed do a lot of the browsing and poking for you- it gives a nice map of what’s behind the curtain.

    Other approaches I like are a link to a typical example and the semantic sitemap provided by http://jisc.rkbexplorer.com/