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IsaViz: A Visual Authoring Tool for RDF

Current stable version: 2.1 (October 2004)

Current development version: 3.0 alpha (May 2007)


IsaViz is a visual environment for browsing and authoring RDF models represented as graphs. It features:

  • a 2.5D user interface allowing smooth zooming and navigation in the graph
  • creation and editing of graphs by drawing ellipses, boxes and arcs
  • RDF/XML, Notation 3 and N-Triple import
  • RDF/XML, Notation 3 and N-Triple export, but also SVG and PNG export

Since version 2.0, IsaViz can render RDF graphs using GSS (Graph Stylesheets), a stylesheet language derived from CSS and SVG for styling RDF models represented as node-link diagrams.


IsaViz 2 with support for GSS (click to enlarge)


IsaViz and Java 1.6 (2007-10-21)

IsaViz 2.x is not compatible with Java 1.6 or later. It is recommended to download IsaViz 3.0 which does work with any version of Java. An alpha release is available (see Download section), which should be as stable as IsaViz 2.1 except for the new, still under development, Fresnel and FSL features.

IsaViz and GraphViz (2007-05-23)

IsaViz 2.x is not compatible with GraphViz 2.10 or later. It is thus recommended to use GraphViz 2.8 or earlier with IsaViz 2.x. Alternatively, IsaViz 3.0-alpha now works with the latest version of GraphViz (currently 2.13). An alpha release is available (see Download section).

FSL (2006-10-26)

Several bugs have been fixed in the FSL engines for Jena, Sesame and the visual FSL debugger embedded in IsaViz. A build of the latest source code can be downloaded.

Fresnel in IsaViz (2006-05-19)

IsaViz 3.0 now supports Fresnel lenses and several elements of the Core Format Vocabulary. IsaViz 3.0 is only available through CVS for the time being, and requires the latest version of ZVTM. A video demonstrates some of the implemented features in action.

FSL for Sesame 2-alpha-3 (2006-04-25)

The FSL engine for Sesame 2 now works with version 2alpha3 instead of version 2alpha1. A build of the latest source code can be downloaded.

FSL for Sesame 1.2.2 (2005-12-06)

In addition to the Sesame 2.0 implementation of FSL, there is now a Sesame 1.2.2 implementation written by Ryan Lee from project Simile. Available as both source code and a JAR file. Documentation for its use is available.

Java FSL Documentation available (2005-11-18)

Documentation for the three existing Java FSL engine implementations (for Jena, Sesame and IsaViz) is now available.

IsaViz FSL Debugger screenshot

FSL for Sesame 2.0 (2005-11-15)

Fresnel comes with a companion proposal specifying a path language for RDF called FSL. FSL is a language for modeling traversal paths in RDF graphs, designed to address the specific requirements of a selector language for Fresnel. In addition to the two existing implementations of FSL for Jena and IsaViz' internal data structures, a third FSL engine is now available for Sesame 2-alpha 1.

Screenshot of the FSL visual debugger in IsaViz.

Fresnel and FSL in IsaViz (2005-07-22)

Fresnel is a simple vocabulary for specifying how to display RDF content. Compared to GSS, Fresnel is a browser- and format-independent RDF presentation language. It does not rely on any specific representation paradigm (as opposed to GSS which works on node-link diagram representations of RDF graphs). Fresnel will be supported in the upcoming version 3.0 of IsaViz. Fresnel comes with a companion proposal specifying a path language for RDF called FSL. FSL is a language for modeling traversal paths in RDF graphs, designed to address the specific requirements of a selector language for Fresnel. FSL is strongly inspired by XPath, reusing many of its concepts and syntactic constructs while adapting them to RDF's graph-based data model. IsaViz already provides two working implementations of FSL available through CVS only, until the next build (August). The first implementation can be used by third party applications to query any in-memory Jena RDF model, while the second is based on IsaViz' internal data structure and is used to get a graphical representation of the paths selected by an FSL expression in an RDF graph (useful for learning and debugging FSL). Both implementations require ANTLR 2.7.5 or later.


screenshot6 screenshot7

More screenshots are available.


Development version (IsaViz 3.0-alpha, May 2007): an alpha release is available for download with all dependencies included. It works with the latest version of GraphViz (currently 2.13). The latest source code is available through W3C’s public CVS repository.

Latest development version: 3.0-alpha1

Source distribution (zip file, 9.9 Mb)isaviz-src-3.0-alpha1.zip

Latest stable version: 2.1

Binary distribution (zip file, 9.46 Mb)isaviz-bin-2_1.zip
Binary distribution (tarball, 9.42 Mb)isaviz-bin-2_1.tar.gz
Source distribution (tarball, 9.98 Mb)isaviz-src-2_1.tar.gz
Older versions

Note: if you are using a download software agent like GetRight and are prompted for a password when requesting one of the above files, try disabling this software.

Other Required Libraries

You will also need to download graphviz/dot for your specific platform (version 1.8.9 or later is mandatory if you are installing IsaViz 2). Note: some instances of version 1.10.0 had a bug that produced incomplete SVG files, but it has been corrected in subsequent releases (newer versions can be obtained on the graphviz.org site).

Finally, as IsaViz is implemented in Java, it requires a JVM (Java Virtual Machine) 1.3.0 or later (1.4.0 or later strongly recommended - see Known problems) since the GUI makes extensive use of Java2D which featured poor performances in JVM 1.2.x. The latest JVM from Sun can be downloaded at http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4/


The Sesame plug-in makes it possible to read/write RDF data directly from/to a Sesame server. It can be downloaded freely from the Sesame Sourceforge Project page.


Installation instructions contain information on how to install and configure IsaViz, including requirements for additional software versions. You should read these as they contain important instructions regarding GraphViz/dot which is not included in the distribution.

A User Manual describing all features of IsaViz is also available, as well as a User Manual for Graph Stylesheets (GSS).

Mailing List

If you want to make comments, bug reports or simply ask a question, use the following mailing list: www-isaviz@w3.org. To subscribe to the list, send an e-mail to www-isaviz-request@w3.org with subscribe in the subject header. See http://www.w3.org/Mail/Request for more details. An archive of messages sent to the list is available.

Known Problems


IsaViz is developed by Emmanuel Pietriga.

The first version was developed in collaboration with Xerox Research Centre Europe which also contributed XVTM, the ancestor of ZVTM (Zoomable Visual Transformation Machine) upon which IsaViz is built. IsaViz 2.0/GSS was developed during my postdoc funded by INRIA and MIT. As of October 2004, further development is handled by INRIA Futurs project In Situ. IsaViz also includes software developed by:

and makes use of the GraphViz library developed by AT&T Research.

The Sesame plug-in is developed by Aduna.

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Emmanuel Pietriga
Last modified: Sun Oct 21 10:41:12 CEST 2007