SWIG-UK Special Event: Ian Davis on the Talis Platform

You can view the slides for Ian’s presentation here:

Ian begins by describing the platform as a multi-tenant database with a REST based API. There are pools of content and metadata called Stores, which you can add content to and search and retrieve data and binaries from.

We want to bring the platform to as many developers as possible.

We use REST but also adopt existing protocols such as RSS this is so that we can re-use data formats and protocols where they exist, create and document where not. Any data stored in the platform is still your data.

Ian describes the API next, he talks about how you can use the API to

  • Add Content to a store using POST ( http://api.talis.com/stores/mystore/items )
  • Search Content in a store using GET ( http://api.talis.com/stores/mystore/items )
  • Adding Metadata POST RDF/XML to add RDF In Bulk ( http://api.talis.com/stores/mystore/meta ), you can also POST Change Sets which are lists of reified triples with a common subject.
  • Search Metadata using SPARQL ( http://api.talis.com/stores/mystore/services/sparql? ) this is limited to searching the metabox for a given store. Each store has a multisparql service to search multiple graphs.
  • Augmentation ( http://api.talis.com/stores/mystore/services/augment ) supply an RSS feed and augment it with additional triples. In other words take a search from one store and chain it with augmentation from another.
  • Faceting  ( http://api.talis.com/stores/mystore/services/facet ) uses indexed metadata to build facets for search terms.
  • OAI ( http://api.talis.com/stores/mystore/services/oai-pmh ) standard archiving and harvesting protocol,.
  • Snapshots – Can programmatically request a snapshot of your store. Produces a tar file accessible by HTTP, which contains all items from content box, all rdf etc.
  • Security – Coarse gained capability model, uses authentication via HTTP digest, with URI based identities.

Ian then goes onto talk about some of our future plans:

  • Relevance ranking for RDF – use relations between resources to influence ranking, as well as discover resources based on text search of their associated resources.
  • Personalisation and recommendation services – resources that are similar to X tend to have y, trails and suggestions based on usage.

Ian describes the architecture of the platform and some of technologies that it is built upon , for example Jena. Ian also talks about our goals in terms of scaling and resilience, our aim for zero downtime

Ian goes onto describe Marvin which a development project we are working on to deal with parallel data processing., the idea being that all content submitted to platform is processed in parallel.

Ian also talks about Majat, which is another development research project to that looks at Distributed storage and search .

Ian then goes on to show some examples of how the platform is currently being used by showing some of the applications we have built.

  • Talis Engage – a community information application that uses SKOS, SIOC and FOAF
  • Talis Prism – Library catalogue search
  • Project Zephyr – Academic resource/reading list management. Ian Also demo’d our relationship  browser which is embedded in Zephyr and allows users to explore data in the platform.

Question and Answers

Question: What SemWeb capabilities are customers warming to? It’s still early days.

Question: Are you doing reasoning in the platform.? Not yet.

Question: How much risk is involved in exposing SPARQL Service? Some risk, someone could write a horrible SPARQL query.

Question: Would you consider releasing this as a product and not a service? No, we are offering the platform as SaaS

Question: Can you categorise the kinds of apps this is best suited for? Any applications that are information rich.