If you think RDFa and the semantic web is only for geeks, it's time to take a second look. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is advancing the standards for tomorrow's Internet and web content management vendors are getting on-board. The result is going to be a smarter, more findable Web.

The W3C recently took another significant step forward with their semantic web project -- the publishing of the first public working draft (FPWD) of the RDFa API. This document by the RDFa Working Group has long been expected, and is significant as it enables developers to begin using RDFa in their applications. The RDFa API document details the mechanism by which software can make use of (extract facts from) RDFa mark-up inside of web pages.

Blah blah. What is this RDFa Geekery?

If you don't follow the topic closely, you might think that RDFa is just another standard in the already cluttered world of Web standards. Well, this isn't exactly so.

First, RDFa is still in its draft stages and it is not a standard yet. As we have already reported, the first working draft of the HTML + RDFa specification was published in October 2009 and was updated in March 2010. The latest draft of the RDF API is another significant step in the progression. We're not quite to standardom yet though.

Secondly, RDFa stands a chance of revolutionizing what we now call the Web -- broadly enhancing it's usefulness and significantly changing what we know as "web browsing".

What's So Great About RDFa?

The RDFa project defines the rules for publishing structured information that is both human- and machine-readable.

Traditionally, human-readable web content is in a format machines can't semantically understand (i.e., your browser can render the content, but it can't tell you what it means) and machine-readable data is incomprehensible for most humans. The RDFa and RDFa API standards are supposed to bridge this gap.

There are many examples of human-readable and machine-readable data in Web documents. When this data is marked respectively and there is an easy way to extract it in a structured form from a document, it can be used in many ways. The purpose of the RDFa API is exactly this -- to allow web developers to programmatically extract and use structured information from normal, human-readable web pages.