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rdf-agraph: Ruby AllegroGraph adapter for RDF.rb

AllegroGraph® is a commercial RDF data store. AllegroGraph supports ACID transactions, federation, Prolog-style queries and social network analysis. You can run AllegroGraph Free Edition on 64-bit Linux systems and store up to 50 million triples. (See below for installation instructions.)

RDF.rb is an excellent Ruby library for working with RDF. It supports a huge variety of RDF repositories and formats, and it's very convenient to use.

This gem provides an optimized implementaton of RDF.rb's Repository interface. It supports bulk loads, bulk deletes, optimized statement queries and even optimized Basic Graph Pattern queries. At the time of writing, I'm not aware of any other RDF.rb Repository that optimizes all of the above.

Note, however, that this gem exposes only a small fraction of AllegroGraph's features. To help add more features, see Contributing below.

This code is a wrapper around phifty's agraph gem, which provides a low-level interface to AllegroGraph over HTTP.

AllegroGraph® is a registered trademark of Franz, Inc.


To install the rdf-agraph gem, run:

sudo gem install rdf-agraph

To use it from a script, you'll need to require it as follows:

require 'rubygems'
gem 'rdf-agraph'
require 'rdf-agraph'

Installing with Bundler

If you're using Rails 3 or Bundler, add the following line to your Gemfile:

gem 'rdf-agraph'

And run:

bundle install


Connecting to a repository

To connect to an AllegroGraph repository, call:

url = "http://user:passwd@localhost:10035/repositories/example"
repo =, :create => true)

Loading data

You may now load an entire file of RDF statements:

require 'rdf/ntriples'

You may also insert statements manually with insert:

# Define some useful RDF vocabularies.
FOAF = RDF::FOAF  # Standard "friend of a friend" vocabulary.
EX ="")

# Insert triples into AllegroGraph.
  # Information about Sam.
  [EX.sam,     RDF.type,   FOAF.Person],
  [EX.sam,,  'Sam Smith'],
  [EX.sam,     FOAF.mbox,  ''],

  # Information about Susan.
  [EX.susan,   RDF.type,   FOAF.Person],
  [EX.susan,,  'Susan Jones'],

  # Some more people so we have a nice graph.
  [EX.rachel,  RDF.type,   FOAF.Person],
  [EX.richard, RDF.type,   FOAF.Person],
  [EX.mike,    RDF.type,   FOAF.Person],

  # Who knows who?
  [EX.sam,     FOAF.knows, EX.susan],
  [EX.susan,   FOAF.knows, EX.rachel],
  [EX.susan,   FOAF.knows, EX.richard],
  [EX.rachel,  FOAF.knows, EX.mike],
  [EX.sam,     FOAF.knows, EX.richard]

Basic queries

To query for all statements about a subject, try:

repo.query(:subject => EX.susan) do |statement|
  puts statement

# This prints:
#   <> <> <> .
#   <> <> Susan Jones .
#   <> <> <> .
#   <> <> <> .

You can also perform fully-optimized queries using RDF.rb's Basic Graph Patterns. For example, to query for all people with known names:

repo.build_query do |q|
  q.pattern [:person, RDF.type,  FOAF.Person]
  q.pattern [:person,, :name] do |solution|
  puts "#{}: #{solution.person}"

# This prints:
#  Sam Smith:
#  Susan Jones:

Advanced AllegroGraph queries

AllegroGraph has a number of more advanced features, including Prolog-style queries and support for graph algorithms. To use these features, you'll need to open up a dedicated AllegoGraph session. This requires the AllegroGraph user privileges Start sessions and Evaluate arbitrary code.

repo.session do |session|

  # Create a generator.  This will be used to traverse links between
  # nodes.  It's possible to define a generator using multiple
  # predicates, backwards links, and other options.
  knows = session.generator(:object_of => FOAF.knows)

  # Find everybody within two degrees of Sam.
  session.build_query do |q|
    q.ego_group_member EX.sam, 2, knows, :person do |solution|
    puts solution.person

  # This prints:

  # Find a path from Sam to Mike.
  session.build_query do |q|
    q.breadth_first_search_paths EX.sam, EX.mike, knows, :path do |solution|
    puts "Found path:"
    solution.path.each {|p| puts "  #{p}" }

  # This prints:
  #   Found path:

Related Projects & Documentation

For more ideas, check out the following websites:

Comparisons with Other Gems

These comparisons were correct (to the best of my knowledge) at the time of writing. However, things are moving quickly in the RDF.rb community, so this information may be out of date!

agraph vs. rdf-agraph

rdf-agraph is a wrapper around phifty's agraph gem, which provides a low-level interface to AllegroGraph over HTTP. This gem relies heavily on his work!

  • agraph provides a richer API for working with geometric primitives, which we don't yet export.
  • rdf-agraph provides bulk loads, bulk deletes, a Ruby-based query builder, and better support for Social Network Analysis.
  • agraph works with raw, serialized RDF values. URLs, for example are represented as "<>" and strings are represented as "\"Hello\"". The rdf-agraph gem, on the other hand, uses high-level Ruby objects defined by RDF.rb.
  • rdf-agraph is compatible with the huge range of RDF formats and repositories supported by RDF.rb.

rdf-sesame vs. rdf-agraph

rdf-sesame is the standard RDF.rb Sesame driver. At the time of writing, it has very few optimizations.

  • rdf-sesame does not support bulk inserts, bulk deletes, or optimized queries. rdf-agraph supports all of these.
  • rdf-sesame tends to silently ignore network errors and return default values.
  • At the time of writing, rdf-sesame sends HTTP requests of the form GET HTTP/1.1, which do not work with AllegroGraph's Sesame endpoint.

sparql-client vs. rdf-agraph

sparql-client is the standard RDF.rb SPARQL client.

  • sparql-client does not implement the RDF::Repository interface. Instead, it implements a custom SPARQL DSL (domain-specific language). This means that it can perform sophisticated queries, but it can't update the contents of the repository.
  • rdf-agraph can run raw SPARQL and Prolog queries, but does not provide a complete DSL for building either kind of query.

Installing AllegroGraph

AllegroGraph runs on 64-bit Intel Linux systems. Mac and Windows users may be able to run it inside a virtual machine using supplied images and either VMware Player or VMware Fusion.

You may download AllegroGraph Free Edition from Franz's web site. AllegroGraph Free Edition supports up to 50 million triples. For modern Linux systems, I recommend installing it from a *.tar.gz file, as described in the installation instructions.

If you install AllegroGraph in /opt/agraph, you can control it using the following script:

# Call this script as either 'agraph-service start' or
# 'agraph-service stop'.
/opt/agraph/bin/agraph-control --config /opt/agraph/lib/agraph.cfg $1

Save this as /usr/local/bin/agraph-service and run:

chmod +x /usr/local/bin/agraph-service

A Warning About fork

If you insert statements containing blank nodes into an RDF::AllegroGraph::Repository, the repository will generate and store a list of blank node IDs. If you later call fork (perhaps because you are running Unicorn or Spork), you may cause this cache of unused blank node IDs to be shared between two different processes. This may result in blank node IDs being reused for multiple resources.

To avoid this problem, do not insert statements containing blank nodes until after you have made any fork calls.

Contributing to rdf-agraph

Your patches are welcome! You may contribute patches to rdf-agraph by forking the GitHub repository and sending a pull request to emk.

If you're like to get your patches merged very quickly, here's some advice on constructing the ideal patch:

  • Start with something small, if you can: A bug fix, some new Prolog functors, or a missing AllegroGraph feature.
  • Format your commit messages using the standard format used by the Linux kernel, Rails and many other projects. This keeps things tidy and makes your patch easy to review!
  • Use the commit message to describe the problem that you're fixing. Make sure that I can understand the problem and why your fix is correct. You'd think this was obvious, but I've seen some very mysterious patches in the past. :-)
  • Provide RSpec specifications for the fix. This may feel like a nuisance, but it ensures that your new feature will still work correctly two releases from now. I can help you with this if you're not familiar with RSpec.
  • Document any new APIs using yard.

If you do these things (or at least try), I can merge your patch in about 20 seconds. If you don't know how to do these things, just do your best, and I'll be happy to help you through the process.

Thank you for contributing to rdf-agraph!


Many thanks to the following people for helping to improve rdf-agraph:

  • Aymeric Brisse: Unit tests for AllegroGraph inference.