Sunday, April 18, 2010

TopBraid release 3.3: three things that have already made my application development easier

TopBraid Suite Release 3.3 has many features that let you add new things to the semantic web applications that you develop. As I've worked lately on some client application development, three new features in particular have made this work go more quickly and easily.

SPARQLMotion debugger

The SPARQLMotion debugger lets you set breakpoints and examine variables like any other debugger. It also lets you enter SPARQL queries against the data available to the SPARQLMotion module where you set the breakpoint, a feature that has made it much easier for me to understand why a certain module was doing what it was doing instead of what I thought it would be doing. A future entry in this blog will describe the SPARQLMotion debugger in more detail; for now you can get a nice tour from Holger Knublauch's introduction to it.

Base URI Management

Applications typically read and write files, but I sometimes forget that in semantic web application development, the real identifier for a resource such as a file is not its filename, but a URI. After all, you can have several files with the same name in different folders or directories, so a URI should provide a truly unique identifier. If you somehow have the same URI representing more than one file (for example, if you made an alternative copy of your application development folders and used both in the same workspace), this can lead to trouble.

Release 3.3's new "Base URI Management" screen for both the Enterprise Server and Personal Server editions of TopBraid Live lists the URIs of the files and other data resources being tracked in each project and puts a warning icon next to any URI being used for more than one resource. Once you straighten these out by assigning a new base URI to one of the files (or, more likely, by deleting an old file that you had forgotten was there) you'll have much better control over the use of those resources.

Application Event Dashboard

I recently needed to use TopBraid Ensemble's drag and drop capability for an application I was working on. I had never used it before, but instead of pesteringing co-workers to show me an example of drag and drop in action, I opened up the Default TBE application with the kennedys.owl data model, clicked the wrench icon to display the Application Configuration screen, and went to the new Event Wiring screen of the Application Configuration dialog box. After clicking its Display All button, in the top list I saw that for this application the Graph Editor and Query components had Drop listener events defined, and in the bottom list I saw that the Grid and Tree components had Dragging post events defined, so I knew I could drag from a Grid or Tree component to the Graph Editor and Query components in this TBE application. I tried dragging a few resources between these components, and it worked; then I could examine how this was configured and reproduce it in my own application.

It's only been a few weeks since release 3.3 has been out, so I'm sure I'll be growing to appreciate other new features more in the coming months.


This is a blog by TopQuadrant, developers of the TopBraid Suite, created to support the pursuit of our ongoing mission - to explode strange semantic myths, to seek out new models that support a new generation of dynamic business applications, to boldly integrate data that no one has integrated before.