Microsoft Astoria Not Supporting RDF

Microsoft’s Astoria project has decided to make RDF a lower priority and is not supporting it for now. So much for Microsoft participating in the Semantic Web.

The Astoria project page describes the project thusly:

The goal of Microsoft Codename Astoria is to enable applications to
expose data as a data service that can be consumed by web clients
within a corporate network and across the internet. The data service is
reachable over HTTP, and URIs are used to identify the various pieces
of information available through the service. Interactions with the
data service happens in terms of HTTP verbs such as GET, POST, PUT and
DELETE, and the data exchanged in those interactions is represented in
simple formats such as XML and JSON.

That sounds like a perfect description of a Web 3.0 service– and a perfect use-case for RDF and SPARQL!  But the team at Astoria doesn’t seem to feel anyone is actually using RDF enough to warrant supporting that open standard. Well, perhaps among Microsoft’s customers that is true enough. But on the other hand, this is a missed opportunity to exercise forward-thinking leadership that will pay dividends to Microsoft in the future when millions of developers and applications will be using RDF as their common language. When is that future? Perhaps as soon as 2 – 3 years. Certainly not more than 5 years.

Welcome to the age of openness: The more open your platform and data, the more developers will want to use it. RDF is one of the ways to make data more open, and supporting it in a data-web platform makes good sense. But it’s hard to teach a an old god new tricks!