World Wide Web Consortium Publishes Public Draft of Resource Description Framework (RDF)

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Key Industry Players Collaborate to Develop Interoperable Metadata for the Web


CAMBRIDGE, MASS., USA -- October 3, 1997 -- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today announced the first public draft of a work-in-progress of the Resource Description Framework (RDF), providing interoperability between applications that exchange machine-understandable information on the Web. "The development of RDF illustrates the power of the collaborative process within W3C Working Groups" said Ralph Swick, W3C Metadata Project Manager. "Beginning with a functional requirement from an end-user Member, the RDF Working Group brought together additional Members to work to achieve a solution of which everyone can be proud." The W3C RDF Working Group has key industry players including DVL, Grif, IBM, KnowledgeCite, LANL, Microsoft, Netscape, Nokia, OCLC, Reuters, SoftQuad and University of Michigan.

The RDF Working Group is one of the earliest phases of a major effort by the Consortium to build a vendor-neutral and operating system- independent system of metadata. The collaborative design effort on RDF originated as an extension on the PICS content description technology, and draws upon the XML design as well as recent W3C Submissions by Microsoft [XML Web Collections] and Netscape [XML/MCF]. In addition, documents such as Microsoft's XML-Data and Site Map proposals, and the Dublin Core/Warwick Framework have also influenced the RDF design.

RDF will allow different application communities to define the metadata property set that best serves the needs of each community. RDF metadata can be used in a variety of application areas such as:

  • in resource discovery to provide better search engine capabilities;
  • in cataloging for describing the content and content relationships available at a particular Web site, page, or digital library;
  • by intelligent software agents to facilitate knowledge sharing and exchange;
  • in content rating for child protection and privacy protection;
  • in describing collections of pages that represent a single logical "document";
  • for describing intellectual property rights of Web pages.

With digital signatures, RDF will be key to building the "Web of Trust" for electronic commerce, collaboration, and other applications.

RDF will use XML as the transfer syntax in order to leverage other tools and code bases being built around XML.

This draft, describing the details of the RDF metadata model and syntax, will be presented next week at the semi-annual meeting of the Dublin Core group in Helsinki, Finland.

The RDF specification has been produced as part of the W3C Metadata Activity. For more information on RDF, see

W3C Metadata Activity

Metadata means "data about data" or "information about information"; more importantly it should now be taken to mean "machine understandable information on the Web". The Metadata Activity, which includes the RDF Working Group, was formed in 1997 from the recognition within the Consortium of a common subtask to existing activities such as PICS and DSig at W3C, HTTP and WebDAV work at IETF, the Dublin Core among many other projects.

W3C's Metadata Activity has seven major areas of focus:

  1. A metadata model and syntax specification, RDF;
  2. A language for writing RDF schemas;
  3. A language for expressing processing rules (sometimes called "filters", "preferences", or "profiles" in various applications of metadata) for the use of RDF statements;
  4. A language for expressing a general query for RDF information;
  5. An algorithm for canonicalizing RDF for digital signature;
  6. A syntax for digitally signing RDF;
  7. A vocabulary for expressing PICS labels in RDF, and a conversion algorithm from PICS 1.1.

For more information on Metadata, see


About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to develop common protocols that enhance the interoperability and promote the evolution of the World Wide Web. It is an industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users; reference code implementations to embody and promote standards; and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, over 210 organizations are Members of the Consortium.

For more information about the World Wide Web Consortium, see

About the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science

Now in its third decade, MIT LCS is dedicated to the invention, development and understanding of information technologies expected to drive substantial technical and socio-economic change. The LCS has helped information technology grow from a mere curiosity to 10 percent of the industrial world's economies by its pioneering efforts in interactive computing, computer networking, distributed systems and public key cryptography. LCS members and alumni have started some thirty companies and have pioneered the Nubus, the X-Window System, the RSA algorithm, the Ethernet and spreadsheets.

For more information about the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, see


INRIA, the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, is a public-sector scientific institute charged with conducting both fundamental and applied research, and with transferring research results to industry. INRIA is made up of five Research Units located at Rocquencourt (near Paris), Rennes, Sophia Antipolis, Nancy and Grenoble. Areas of current research include information processing, advanced high speed networking, structured documents, and scientific computation.

For more information about INRIA, see

About Keio University

Keio University is one of Japan's foremost computer science research centers and universities. It is one of the oldest private universities in Japan, andhas five major campuses around Tokyo. Keio University has been promoting joint research projects in cooperation with industry, government and international organizations, and is now becoming one of the research leaders for the network and digital media technology.

For more information on Keio University, see


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