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Flint SPARQL Editor Released Into Semantic Web Community

TSO, the company behind publishing solutions for the UK public sector, has announced the release into the developer community of what is believed to be the most feature-rich web-based SPARQL editor available, the Flint SPARQL Editor.

SPARQL itself is a query language and a protocol for accessing RDF designed by the W3C RDF Data Access Working Group. Unlike many existing web-based SPARQL query-building tools, which lack abilities such as context dependent autocompletion or syntax checking, Flint encompasses many of the features developers would expect of traditional development environments and code parsers, through its web implementation.

Currently, those submitting SPARQL queries via a web page are generally presented with a bland text box, which can make the process very frustrating and time consuming for less experienced users, especially if they have a limited understanding of the SPARQL language or the structure of the RDF endpoints they are working with.

Flint 0.5 overcomes these challenges through a variety of context-sensitive features, as well as automatically establishing the properties and classes of CORS-enabled endpoints, when available, and presenting these as collections to the user. Flint can be easily incorporated into any web page.

"We believed that web-based SPARQL editors had woefully underserved the community and in some respects were holding back its mainstream development; that was our starting point for developing Flint," said Terry Blake, technical services director at TSO.

"We wanted to see how feature-rich we could make a web-based SPARQL editor, so that it helped users to code, rather than simply being a vehicle that offered no assistance, checking, or support for executing code on a dataset.

"As the community grows and RDF makes its way into organizations across the globe, SPARQL needs to be accessible by all manner of users, with as few barriers to entry as possible. Flint is the start of our journey to make that happen. We're looking forward to getting feedback from the community on this version of Flint," Blake concluded.

There are many more features planned for inclusion in future versions of Flint such as name autocompletion, semantic consistency checking, and dataset-specific help.

Flint is being made available under the terms of the MIT free software license (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and incorporates the CodeMirror 2 JavaScript library.

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