About Profiles Research Networking Software

Sharing Data (Export RDF)

Profiles Research Networking Software is a Semantic Web application, which means its content can be read and understood by other computer programs. This enables the data in profiles, such as addresses and publications, to be shared with other institutions and appear on other websites. If you click the "Export RDF" link on the left sidebar of a profile page, you can see what computer programs see when visiting a profile. The section below describes the technical details for building a computer program that can export data from Profiles Research Networking Software.

Technical Details

As a Semantic Web application, Profiles Research Networking Software uses the Resource Description Framework (RDF) data model. In RDF, every entity (e.g., person, publication, concept) is given a unique URI. (A URI is similar to a URL that you would enter into a web browser.) Entities are linked together using "triples" that contain three URIs--a subject, predicate, and object. For example, the URI of a Person can be connected to the URI of a Concept through a predicate URI of hasResearchArea. Profiles Research Networking Software contains millions of URIs and triples. Semantic Web applications use an ontology, which describes the classes and properties used to define entities and link them together. Profiles Research Networking Software uses the VIVO Ontology, which was developed as part of an NIH-funded grant to be a standard for academic and research institutions. A growing number of sites around the world are adopting research networking platforms that use the VIVO Ontology. Because RDF can link different triple-stores that use the same ontology, software developers are able to create tools that span multiple institutions and data sources. When RDF data is shared with the public, as it is in Profiles Research Networking Software, it is called Linked Open Data (LOD).

There are four types of application programming interfaces (APIs) in Profiles Research Networking Software.

  • RDF crawl. Because Profiles Research Networking Software is a Semantic Web application, every profile has both an HTML page and a corresponding RDF document, which contains the data for that page in RDF/XML format. Web crawlers can follow the links embedded within the RDF/XML to access additional content.
  • SPARQL endpoint. SPARQL is a programming language that enables arbitrary queries against RDF data. This provides the most flexibility in accessing data; however, the downsides are the complexity in coding SPARQL queries and performance. In general, the XML Search API (see below) is better to use than SPARQL.
  • XML Search API. This is a web service that provides support for the most common types of queries. It is designed to be easier to use and to offer better performance than SPARQL, but at the expense of fewer options. It enables full-text search across all entity types, faceting, pagination, and sorting options. The request message to the web service is in XML format, but the output is in RDF/XML format.
  • Old XML based web services. This provides backwards compatibility for institutions that built applications using the older version of Profiles Research Networking Software. These web services do not take advantage of many of the new features of Profiles Research Networking Software. Users are encouraged to switch to one of the new APIs.

For more information about the APIs, please see the documentation and example files.