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The Shape Expressions (ShEx) language describes RDF graph structures. These descriptions identify predicates and their associated cardinalities and datatypes. ShEx shapes can be used to communicate data structures associated with some process or interface, generate or validate data, or drive user interfaces. It is intended to:

  • validate RDF documents.
  • communicate expected graph patterns for interfaces.
  • generate user interface forms and interface code.

A simple ShEx demo shows up data validates against a schema.

The ShEx Homepage includes links to specifications and examples. This wiki gathers extensions and conventions maintained by the ShEx community and provides a scratch space for discussions around advancing the specification.

If you would like to participate in the standardization of ShEx, please join the ShEx Community Group.


<IssueShape> {                            # A Issue shape
    :state [ :unassigned :assigned ];     #   has a state with 2 possible values
    :reportedBy @<UserShape>;             #   is reported by a user
    :reportedOn xsd:date;                 #   is reported on a date
    ( :reproducedBy @<UserShape>          #   can optionally have 2 properties
    ; :reproducedOn xsd:date              #     reproducedBy/On
    :related @<IssueShape>*               #   is related to several other issues

<UserShape> {                             # A user shape can have either
    ( foaf:name xsd:string                #  name or
    | foaf:givenName xsd:string+ ;        #  several given names and
      foaf:familyName xsd:string          #   family name
    foaf:mbox shex:IRI ?                  # mbox Optional, any IRI

A separate page contains some simple examples using ShEx.

The following list contains a list of examples that employ ShEx:

Shex definition can be defined in three syntaxes: ShExC (ShEx Compact format), ShExJ (a JSON-LD syntax) and ShExR (the RDF corresponding to ShExJ).



  • Formats: ShExC, ShExJ, ShExR
  • Language: javascript based
  • Algorithm: Partition
  • Developer: Eric Prud'Hommeaux

Live Demo Examples:


  • Syntax: ShExC, ShExJ, ShExR (ongoing work), SHACL
  • Developer: Jose Emilio Labra Gayo
  • Algorithm: Implementation based on monads and regular expression detivatives with support for both ShEx and SHACL
  • Programming language: Scala

Live demo:

ShEx Ruby

  • Syntax: ShExC, ShExJ, ShExR
  • Developer: Gregg Kellogg
  • Programming language: Ruby

ShEx implementation in Java (Lille)

  • Syntax: ShExJ
  • Developer: Iovka Boneva
  • Programming language: Java

Old implementations


  • Syntax: ShExc (Shex compact syntax) with some extensions like regex
  • Developer: Jose Emilio Labra Gayo
  • Algorithm: Regular expression derivatives
  • Programming language: Scala
  • Extra features: Online RDF validator based on Shexcala


  • Syntax: ShEx compact syntax
  • Developer: Jose Emilio Labra Gayo
  • Algorithm: Regular expression derivatives and backtracking (by selection)
  • Programming language: Scala
  • Extra features: Negation, Reverse arcs, language tags, regexps
  • Note: this library is no longer maintained. The new version is SHACLex

JSShexTest (ShEx1)

  • Formats: ShExR and ShExC(partly)
  • Language: Javascript based
  • Algorithm: State based
  • Developer: Jesse van Dam
  • Working version: [1].
  • Source code [2] (uses a local web server that can be started with ruby and accessed via localhost:4567).

For the validation code see [3] for the validation process (easy to read). Further description can be found here at ValidationCode.


  • Syntax: Abstract syntax (no parser)
  • Semantics: Closed shapes based on operational semantics
  • Developer: Jose Emilio Labra Gayo
  • Algorithm: Backtracking. This implementation was just a research prototype
  • Programming language: Haskell

Test cases


The complete validation process is separated in 2 steps.

Step 1 The creation of the Node to (multiple) Shapes mapping named as the "ShapeMap". The default "ShapeMap"Shape Map is the mapping of a given start Node with the start Shape in the ShEx schema.

The ShEx/ShapeMap page describes different techniques for associating nodes with shapes.

Step 2 The ShEx validation as described in the spec[4]. Any nodes that neither are in the ShapeMap or visited during the validation process are not validated.

So shapes are semantically independent and can be linked to different things dependent on the node to shape mapping.

Publications about ShEx

  • Complexity and Expressiveness of ShEx for RDF, In International Conference on Database Theory (ICDT) 2015. With S. Staworko, J. E. Labra Gayo, S. Hym, E. G. Prud’hommeaux, and H. Solbrig. PDF
  • Towards an RDF validation language based on Regular Expression derivatives, Jose Emilio Labra Gayo, Eric Prud'Hommeaux, Slawek Staworko and Harold Solbrig. PDFSlides
  • Shape Expressions: An RDF validation and transformation language, Eric Prud'hommeaux, Jose Emilio Labra Gayo, Harold Solbrig, 10th International Conference on Semantic Systems, Sept. 2015, Leipzig, Germany, PDFSlides
  • Validating and Describing Linked Data Portals using RDF Shape Expressions, Jose Emilio Labra Gayo, Eric Prud'hommeaux, Harold Solbrig, 1st Workshop on Linked Data Quality, Sept. 2015, Leipzig, Germany, PDFSlides

Discussion & Proposed Features

See here for the currently ongoing discussions

Issuelist 2.0

Issuelist 2.1