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Ruben Verborgh

LDflex: a Read/Write Linked Data Abstraction for Front-End Web Developers

by Ruben Verborgh and Ruben Taelman

Many Web developers nowadays are trained to build applications with a user-facing browser front-end that obtains predictable data structures from a single, well-known back-end. Linked Data invalidates such assumptions, since data can combine several ontologies and span multiple servers with different APIs. Front-end developers, who specialize in creating end-user experiences rather than back-ends, need an abstraction layer to the Web of Data that matches their existing mindset and workflow. We have developed LDflex, a domain-specific language that exposes common Linked Data access patterns as concise JavaScript expressions. In this article, we describe the design and embedding of the language, and discuss its daily usage within two companies. LDflex succeeds in eliminating a dedicated data layer for common and straightforward data access patterns, without striving to be a replacement for more complex cases. Our experiences reveal that designing a Linked Data developer experience—analogous to a user experience—is crucial for adoption by the target group, who can create Linked Data applications for end users. Crucially, simple abstractions require research to hide the underlying complexity.

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Published in 2020 in Proceedings of the 19th International Semantic Web Conference.

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Cite this article easily using its BibTeX entry:

@inproceedings{verborgh_iswc_2020,
  author = {Verborgh, Ruben and Taelman, Ruben},
  title = {{LDflex:} a Read/Write {Linked Data} Abstraction for Front-End {Web} Developers},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the 19th International Semantic Web Conference},
  editor = {Pan, Jeff Z. and Tamma, Valentina and d’Amato, Claudia and Janowicz, Krzysztof and Fu, Bo and Polleres, Axel and Seneviratne, Oshani and Kagal, Lalana},
  year = 2020,
  month = nov,
  pages = {193--211},
  series = {Lecture Notes in Computer Science},
  volume = 12507,
  publisher = {Springer},
  isbn = {978-3-030-62466-8},
  doi = {10.1007/978-3-030-62466-8_13},
  url = {https://drive.verborgh.org/publications/iswc2020-ldflex.pdf},
}

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IEEE
R. Verborgh and R. Taelman, “LDflex: a Read/Write Linked Data Abstraction for Front-End Web Developers,” in Proceedings of the 19th International Semantic Web Conference, 2020, vol. 12507, pp. 193–211.
ACM
Ruben Verborgh and Ruben Taelman. 2020. LDflex: a Read/Write Linked Data Abstraction for Front-End Web Developers. In Proceedings of the 19th International Semantic Web Conference (Lecture Notes in Computer Science), Springer, 193–211.
LNCS
Verborgh, R., Taelman, R.: LDflex: a Read/Write Linked Data Abstraction for Front-End Web Developers. In: Pan, J.Z., Tamma, V., d’Amato, C., Janowicz, K., Fu, B., Polleres, A., Seneviratne, O., and Kagal, L. (eds.) Proceedings of the 19th International Semantic Web Conference. pp. 193–211. Springer (2020).
APA
Verborgh, R., & Taelman, R. (2020). LDflex: a Read/Write Linked Data Abstraction for Front-End Web Developers. In J. Z. Pan, V. Tamma, C. d’Amato, K. Janowicz, B. Fu, A. Polleres, O. Seneviratne, & L. Kagal (Eds.), Proceedings of the 19th International Semantic Web Conference (Vol. 12507, pp. 193–211). Springer.
MLA
Verborgh, Ruben, and Ruben Taelman. “LDflex: a Read/Write Linked Data Abstraction for Front-End Web Developers.” Proceedings of the 19th International Semantic Web Conference, edited by Jeff Z. Pan et al., vol. 12507, Springer, 2020, pp. 193–211.

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