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a CLOS projection for RDF repositories

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DE.SETF.RESOURCE: a CLOS projection for RDF repositories


de.setf.resource implements transparent projection from RDF repositories into CLOS models. It relies on the CLOS-MOP to implement a collection of metaclasses and operators to equate CLOS class/instance/slot[[0]] structure with a domain/resource/property oriented view of RDF graphs. It includes interfaces to wilbur[1],[2],[3], , cassandra[9], and allegro-graph[4] repositories which permits both memory-resident and remote repositories.


The core implementation involves several classes

  • resource-metaclass : the metaclass associates URI-designated RDF datatypes with resource-class instances to support projection of entire graphs.
  • resource-class : the metaclass associates individual URI with CLOS instances, extends the standard-class slot access protocol based on slot declarations to support RDF properties, and adds a prototype-based storage model to manage properties absent schemas
  • resource-object : the abstract class projects the resource URI and predicated properties for a repository subject node onto a CLOS instance, its instance slots, and its prototypical properties, each of which corresponds to a triple property or a computed graph predicate. In addition to the predicated values and any transient slots, each instance also includes state and history slots, which are interpreted in combination with instantiation, slot-access, and transaction operators to implement a persistence life-cycle[5]. In this protocol, the CLOS instance behaves as an heap model for the persistent state of nodes in the RDF repository.

    Specialized resource-object classes can be defined in advance, the application can leave them to be constructed on-demand based on models accompanying the resource data, or data can be manipulated through unclassified prototypes. All variations share a common access interface for predicated properties, that of functional accessors. Given predefined classes, these are specified in the class declaration. Where the class definition is derived from a schema, the accessors are translated from the respective RDF vocabulary. Where prototypes are used, they are are defined on-the-fly based on the respective property names. The accessors implement a protocol which handles internalizing/externalizing RDF literal and resource values, lazy construction of related resource-object instances on-demand. In combination with the instance state and history, the accessors maintain the correspondence between external statements and slot values.


There are several precedents for CLOS-MOP based persistence

They share a basic architecture, which uses the CLOS-MOP to extend the slot access mechanism to encapsulate access to persistent data. Within that framework each demonstrates a variation in the following aspects:

  • mapping granularity - slot v/s instance : are slots/properties/fields projected as a unit for an instance, or individually per slot
  • identity : do unique instances correspond to external data or can there be multiple projections
  • caching : does the instance act as a cache for projected data or does each access read/write through to external data

The de.setf.resource resource-object protocol implements

  • instance granularity projection for literals and resource with per-property read granularity as an option for resources.
  • URI-based object identity.
  • slot-based caching with automatic internalization/externalization based on the relation between declared property Lisp type and RDF datatype.


The abstract class resource-mediator embodies the interface to an RDF store. Each os its concrete specializations implements the requisite access operations based on its respective RDF repository. Mediators are implemented as

  • wilbur-mediator, for wilbur 2.0
  • cassandra-mediator, for cassandra 0.6.4
  • allegrostore-mediator, for allegrograph

Each provides a cache to unify instances in terms of the repository's representation resource identifiers, a find-instance operator which accepts URI and locates or creates and interns an instance, a select-statements operator to constrain projection - in particular to those statements which relate to a node, and a delete-statements operator to delete or limit validity of statements as a consequence of property modification.


Transactions expressed with a with-transaction form.

The normal control flow through that form opens a transaction, executes the body and commits the transaction upon completion. When the transaction commits, the complete content of new persistent instances and the modifications to existing are projected onto the storage repository. This involves creating statements with the respective object as subject combined with slot designators as property and slot value(s) as object. Slot modifications require, in addition, that previous statements be deleted.

A non-local exit causes the transaction to rollback. This is accomplished by returning instances to theirs state prior to any modifications within the transaction. New instances are returned to transient status and prior instances are reinitialzed to reflect the state of the repository.

with-transaction ((source) &body body)


CLOS relies on a nominal type system. RDF - at least for those documents associated with a schema, also relies on a nominal type system. A strict open-world view, however, requires that a system comprehend instance constituents independent of an apriori definition. For CLOS this would entail some form of structural typing. Perhaps even opportunistically structural.

Anomalies between the defined CLOS model and the actual data can appear in two situations.

  • A CLOS class elected by the application as the target model for the projection does not include a property which is present in the RDF graph.
  • A resource which denotes a constituent in a relation (subject or object) is not associated with a class in the CLOS model.

That is, an exceptional condition arises if either a single class or the application concept model do not correspond to the external model. In which cases, in general, there are three alternatives: abort the projection, ignore the unknown assertion(s), or extend the CLOS model.

In the case, where the discrepancy is with a class definition, where no slot exists for a property asserted for a given subject object, there are several specific options.

  • signal an unrecoverable error to abort the projection.
  • skip the property.
  • regard the instance as a prototype and record the property specific to the instance.
  • extend the immediate class definition to include a slot for the property.
  • find an alternative class which includes a property for the slot, most immediately a specialization of the current class, and change the instance class.
  • define a new class - either as an alternative or as a specialization, to include the property, and change the instance class.

To some extent the proper response depends on whether the projection context includes a schema and RDF nodes have types more specific than rdfs:Resource. If a schema is present, as its purpose was to have been to specify the structure of the external model, a strict process must signal an error, while a robust process should either treat the instance as a prototype or locate/create a specialized subclass - specific to the schema, to accept extensions. If, on the other hand, no schema was present, then the best response would be to extend the class as required and associate it with the resource domain.

In the second case, when no class is associated with a subject's base uri - whether projected as an autonomous subject, or when projected as the object of an assertion, the options are similar to those for an isolated slot, depend on additional information.

  • signal an unrecoverable error to abort the projection.
  • skip the resource, or project it as a literal uri.
  • create a prototype to represent resources in that domain as untyped individuals.
  • locate a class includes the requisite properties as slot.
  • define a new class.

On one hand, if an external schema is present, its definitions may provide either a nominal correspondence, or a structural analogy. In the first case the class names are compared to a registry. In the second case, the declare properties are compared to the properties of known classes. If either yields a match, that class should serve as the target for resources in the given domain. If no external schema is present, then the only alternatve to continue with a typed data model is to opportunistically define the class. In the latter case, one requires an additional interaction with the repository to obtain schema information. Which means the operation cannot occur in-line, as the dynamic state may be in the middle of a continuing statement stream. It must instead be deferred to the end of the stream, at which point "forward-reference" instances can be classified either nominally or structurally.


The implementation has reached "I want to see you" status. The documentation describes the implemented API. See for more details.




In principle, de.setf.resource is built with asdf. Please consult the detailed instructions for the respective runtime for more information.


This version is released under version 3 of the GNU Affero license (GAL).[5] The required components are included as per the respective licenses and covered, in this combined form, under the GAL as well. If you need a different license, get in touch.

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