rdfabout.net: Resource Description Framework
What is RDF and what is it good for?

Joshua Tauberer
Last revised January 2008

This is an introduction to RDF (“Resource Description Framework”), which is the standard for encoding metadata and other knowledge on the Semantic Web. In the Semantic Web, computer applications make use of structured information spread in a distributed and decentralized way throughout the current web. RDF is an abstract model, a way to break down knowledge into discrete pieces, and while it is most popularly known for its RDF/XML syntax, RDF can be stored in a variety of formats. This article discusses the abstract RDF model, two concrete serialization formats, how RDF is used and how it differs from plain XML, higher-level RDF semantics, best practices for deployment, and querying RDF data sources.

Begin Reading: Section-by-Section or One-Long-Page

Table of Contents:

  1. Why we need a new standard for the Semantic Web
  2. Introducing RDF
  3. Triples of knowledge
  4. Reading and Writing RDF
  5. Distributed Information
  6. Comparing RDF with XML
  7. RDF about RDF
  8. Linked Data for the Web
  9. Querying Semantic Web Databases
  10. Closing Remarks

This document was originally written in October 2005. In July 2006 it was revised and extended with material from my xml.com article "What is RDF". In January 2008 it was revised with more on N3 and RDF/XML and extended with the new sections Linked Data for the Web and Querying Semantic Web Databases

This site is run by Joshua Tauberer.