Using Shape Expressions (ShEx) to Share RDF Data Models and to Guide Curation with Rigorous Validation
published: July 19, 2019, recorded: June 2019, views: 16
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We discuss Shape Expressions (ShEx), a concise, formal, modeling and validation language for RDF structures. For instance, a Shape Expression could prescribe that subjects in a given RDF graph that fall into the shape “Paper” are expected to have a section called “Abstract”, and any ShEx implementation can confirm whether that is indeed the case for all such subjects within a given graph or subgraph.
When reusing RDF graphs created by others, it is important to know how the data is represented. Current practices of using human-readable descriptions or ontologies to communicate data structures often lack sufficient precision for data consumers to quickly and easily understand data representation details. We provide concrete examples of how we use ShEx as a constraint and validation language that allows humans and machines to communicate unambiguously about data assets. We use ShEx to exchange and understand data models of different origins, and to express a shared model of a resource’s footprint in a Linked Data source. We also use ShEx to agilely develop data models, test them against sample data, and revise or refine them. The expressivity of ShEx allows us to catch disagreement, inconsistencies, or errors efficiently, both at the time of input, and through batch inspections.
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