OpenStructs Announced


CORALVILLE, IA, June 16, 2009 — As part of a broader set of product announcements, Structured Dynamics today unveiled, an education and distribution site dedicated to open source software for converting, managing, viewing and manipulating structured data. Structured data can represent any existing data struct from the simplest attribute-value pair formats to fully specified relational database schema. 
“We believe open source frameworks are the only way moving forward to finally achieve data interoperability,” said Frédérick Giasson, lead developer of the products announced by Structured Dynamics LLC and its CTO. “Our intent is that OpenStructs become a central distribution point for our own open source software as well as the contributed data ‘structs’ that support it,” Giasson said. He went on to explain that ‘structs’ are the small structured data frameworks for converting data from one form to another, for templates to display data in various structured ways, and for extracting structured data from documents and Web pages.
All OpenStructs tools are premised on the canonical RDF (Resource Description Framework) data model. OpenStructs tools either convert existing data structures to RDF, extract structure from content as RDF, or manage and manipulate RDF. All OpenStructs tools and approaches are compliant with existing open standards from the W3C. The intent is to achieve maximum data and software interoperabililty.
The main software distribution from OpenStructs is structWSF, a platform-independent Web services framework for RDF. It is paired with the conStruct module that links Drupal to this framework while leveraging existing Drupal capabilities. structWSF provides a standard suite of Web services, a means to access and manage datasets, and hooks to underlying structured data stores and full-text search engines.
“Our [structWSF] Web services framework is middleware that either provides direct endpoint access to structured RDF data or bridges between RDF data stores and conventional apps and content management systems,” said Giasson. “We think its combination of RDF, datasets and Web-oriented architecture, based on a design of access and use rights, will provide an infrastructure for enterprises to interoperate their own data with growing public sources,” he said. “The framework is still a bit raw but the promise is huge; with an open source release maybe we can light a fire to burn down many historic barriers.”
structWSF is a platform-independent Web services framework for accessing and exposing structured RDF data. Its central organizing perspective is that of the dataset. These datasets contain instance records, with the structural relationships amongst the data and their attributes and concepts defined via ontologies (schema with accompanying vocabularies).
The structWSF middleware framework is fully RESTful in design and is based on HTTP and Web protocols and open standards. The initial structWSF framework comes packaged with a baseline set of about a dozen Web services in CRUD, browse, search and export and import.
All Web services are exposed via APIs and SPARQL endpoints. Each request to an individual Web service returns an HTTP status and optionally a document of resultsets. Each results document can be serialized in many ways, and may be expressed as either RDF or pure XML.
In initial release, structWSF has direct interfaces to the Virtuoso RDF triple store (via ODBC, and later HTTP) and the Solr faceted, full-text search engine (via HTTP). However, structWSF has been designed to be fully platform-independent. The framework is open source (Apache 2 license) and designed for extensibility.
conStruct SCS
conStruct SCS is a structured content system that extends the basic Drupal content management framework. conStruct enables structured data and its controlling vocabularies (ontologies) to drive applications and user interfaces.
Users and groups can flexibly access and manage any or all datasets exposed by the system depending on roles and permissions. Report and presentation templates are easily defined, styled or modified based on the underlying datasets and structure. Collaboration networks can readily be established across multiple installations and non-Drupal endpoints. Powerful linked data integration can be included to embrace data anywhere on the Web.
conStruct provides Drupal-level CRUD (create – read – update – delete), data display templating, faceted browsing, full-text search, and import and export over structured data stores based on RDF. Depending on roles and permissions, a given user may or may not see specific datasets or tools within the Drupal interface. Search and browse results are similarly sequestered depending on access rights.
Unveiled at SemTech 2009
Structured Dynamics unveiled and demoed the two products today at the 2009 Semantic Technology Conference in San Jose California. SD’s CEO, Michael Bergman, did so during his talk on, “BKN: Building Communities through Knowledge, and Knowledge Through Communities.” SemTech 2009 is a premier semantic Web event, which has been steadily growing and now exceeds 1000 attendees.
Sponsorship and Further Details
structWSF has been under development by Structured Dynamics for some time. Its linkage and incorporation within the Drupal system has more recently been supported by the Bibliographic Knowledge Network (BKN).
BKN is a major, two-year, NSF-funded project jointly sponsored by the University of California, Berkeley, Harvard University, Stanford University, and the American Institute of Mathematics, with broad private sector and community support. BKN is developing a suite of tools and infrastructure for citations and bibliographies within the mathematics and statistics domain based on semantic technologies for professionals, students or researchers to form new communities.
An alpha version of structWSF will be released for download from the OpenStruct ( Web site on June 30. The conStruct system will be released at the same time under GPL license. See its home site at or within the Drupal module system (