It’s now been 10 months since I released the first beta of the FOAF-a-Matic Mark 2. An embarrassingly long time indeed, so I thought it was high time that I produced a second beta for you all to play with.
I’ve not been working on this solidly for 10 months and when you take a look you’ll see that there’s not a huge amount of extra functionality, but there’s a few fun bits in there which I’d like some feedback on, so thought I’d go ahead and push the out the door anyway.
I’m calling this beta-2 but there’s every likelihood that there are more bugs in this than the original so be careful and back-up your FOAF file before setting my tool on it. Also be aware that because it still doesn’t support all of FOAF (e.g. foaf:Group, foaf:Project, foaf:nearestAirport, etc) it won’t faithfully round-trip files.
The tool now supports more of the FOAF properties than it used to, including foaf:weblog, foaf:maker, all of the new instant messaging properties, etc. It’s also now based on the excellent Jena 2 API so the downloads are now a bit hefty. You can load existing FOAF files into the tool from the file system or from a URL. Confusingly to do this you need to paste the URL into the “file name” box. Horrid UI but it works.
You can also load in a friend by pointing it at their FOAF document, or a vCard file. The vCard support is donated by Phil Wilson (who has been egging me on to complete this release). Only basic information is extracted from the vCard file, but the skeleton is there.
There’s also a little easter egg in there for you to look at: an embedded HTTP server that supports GET operations. Here’s how you activate it: in your user home directory create a file called
foaf-a-matic.properties stick the following lines in there:
Then point your browser at http://127.0.0.1:9001. You should see a little welcome page. At the moment you can request that the FOAF-a-Matic dumps your FOAF description into the browser or, more interestingly add a friend by typing in the location of their FOAF document into the provided URL. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to convert the FOAF Autodiscovery bookmarklet to point to the FOAF-a-Matic. This is a taster for the kind of web integration that I’d like to add.
The two features that I’m particularly interested in getting feedback on are the following:
Firstly, you can now add a list of the CDs that you own to your FOAF document, using the new foaf:owns property. This allows you to state that you “own” something, in this case an album. You don’t have to enter the CD details yourself as I’ve integrated my MusicBrainz API. This means that you can type in the name of an album or artist and the metadata will be fetched from the MusicBrainz site directly. If you look up an album by artist, then you’re presented with the option of selecting some or all of the albums. Additionally you can review an album, by rating it on a scale of 1-10 and attaching a simple review comment. This additional metadata also gets serialized into your FOAF document. Hopefully this opens up the possibilities for some other interesting applications.
The second feature I’d like feedback on is the “blog roll” feature. You can provide some basic metadata about the blogs you read, e.g. title, URL, feed location, subject classification. More controversially, perhaps, you can also rate blogs just as you can albums. All this metadata gets added to your FOAF file also. At the moment you have to enter all the data yourself, but I plan on adding support for import/export of OPML. That is, if I can find a specification of what exactly an OPML blogroll format looks like. I’ve done two conversions from OPML into FOAF recently and there seem to be some variations in the format.
Overall I’m intending on adding more of this kind of feature to the tool so that I can help capture my life in RDF. This is just some first explorations in that direction. Books are another low-hanging fruit, although I’d prefer to find a web service other than Amazon for getting book metadata. I may use AllConsuming.net if only because it’s layered on top of Amazon; but there’s a lot of interesting metadata available from that site as well.
If you find bugs in the application, feel free to drop me mail. If you think this release feels rushed — little documentation except for this blog entry; numerous UI glitches; etc — then you’re spot on. It is. But then I’m becoming a daddy for the second time tomorrow so I’ve got other things on my mind!
Now for the obligatory download links:
FOAF-a-Matic Mark 2 beta-2 src
FOAF-a-Matic Mark 2 beta-2 bin
Unpack the distribution and you’ll find a jar file. It’s executable so on windows just double-click. Otherwise just run
java -jar fm-mark2-beta-2.jar.
If it’s all completely broken, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you when I can. I’m only going to be online intermittently over the next few weeks. Cheerio