Ruby Notation-3 reader/writer for RDF.rb.
Latest commit d592a24 Dec 31, 2016 @gkellogg gkellogg Finish 2.1.0

RDF::N3 reader/writer

Notation-3 reader/writer for RDF.rb .

Gem Version Build Status


RDF::N3 is an Notation-3 parser for Ruby using the RDF.rb library suite.

Reader inspired from TimBL predictiveParser and Python librdf implementation.

Turtle deprecated

Support for Turtle mime-types and specific format support has been deprecated from this gem, as Turtle is now implemented using RDF::Turtle.


RDF::N3 parses Notation-3, Turtle and N-Triples into statements or triples. It also serializes to Turtle.

Install with gem install rdf-n3


  • Full support of Unicode input requires Ruby version 2.0 or greater.
  • Support for Variables in Formulae dependent on underlying repository. Existential variables are quantified to RDF::Node instances, Universals to RDF::Query::Variable, with the URI of the variable target used as the variable name.
  • No support for N3 Reification. If there were, it would be through a :reify option to the reader.


Instantiate a reader from a local file:"etc/foaf.n3") do |reader|
   reader.each_statement do |statement|
     puts statement.inspect

Define @base and @prefix definitions, and use for serialization using :base_uri an :prefixes options

Write a graph to a file:"etc/test.n3") do |writer|
   writer << graph


N3 Formulae are introduced with the { statement-list } syntax. A given formula is assigned an RDF::Node instance, which is also used as the graph_name for RDF::Statement instances provided to RDF::N3::Reader#each_statement. For example, the following N3 generates the associated statements:

{ [ x:firstname  "Ora" ] dc:wrote [ dc:title  "Moby Dick" ] } a n3:falsehood .

results in

f =
s =
o =
RDF::Statement(f, rdf:type n3:falsehood)
RDF::Statement(s, x:firstname, "Ora", graph_name: f)
RDF::Statement(s, dc:wrote, o, graph_name: f)
RDF::Statement(o, dc:title, "Moby Dick", graph_name: f)


N3 Variables are introduced with @forAll, @forEach, or ?x. Variables reference URIs described in formulae, typically defined in the default vocabulary (e.g., ":x"). Existential variables are replaced with an allocated RDF::Node instance. Universal variables are replaced with a RDF::Query::Variable instance. For example, the following N3 generates the associated statements:

@forAll <#h>. @forSome <#g>. <#g> <#loves> <#h> .

results in:

h =<#h>)
g =
RDF::Statement(f, <#loves>, h)

Implementation Notes

The parser is driven through a rules table contained in lib/rdf/n3/reader/meta.rb. This includes branch rules to indicate productions to be taken based on a current production. Terminals are denoted through a set of regular expressions used to match each type of terminal.

The [meta.rb][file:lib/rdf/n3/reader/meta.rb] file is generated from lib/rdf/n3/reader/n3-selectors.n3 (taken from which is the result of parsing (along with bnf-rules.n3) using cwm using the following command sequence:

cwm n3.n3 bnf-rules.n3 --think --purge --data > n3-selectors.n3

[n3-selectors.n3][file:lib/rdf/n3/reader/n3-selectors.rb] is itself used to generate meta.rb using script/build_meta.


  • Generate Formulae and solutions using BGP and SPARQL CONSTRUCT mechanisms
  • Create equivalent to --think to iterate on solutions.



Full documentation available on

Principle Classes

  • {RDF::N3}
  • {RDF::N3::Format}
  • {RDF::N3::Reader}
  • {RDF::N3::Writer}

Additional vocabularies

  • {RDF::LOG}
  • {RDF::REI}


  • Array
  • RDF::List





This repository uses Git Flow to mange development and release activity. All submissions must be on a feature branch based on the develop branch to ease staging and integration.

  • Do your best to adhere to the existing coding conventions and idioms.
  • Don't use hard tabs, and don't leave trailing whitespace on any line.
  • Do document every method you add using YARD annotations. Read the tutorial or just look at the existing code for examples.
  • Don't touch the .gemspec, VERSION or AUTHORS files. If you need to change them, do so on your private branch only.
  • Do feel free to add yourself to the CREDITS file and the corresponding list in the the README. Alphabetical order applies.
  • Do note that in order for us to merge any non-trivial changes (as a rule of thumb, additions larger than about 15 lines of code), we need an explicit public domain dedication on record from you.


This is free and unencumbered public domain software. For more information, see or the accompanying {file:UNLICENSE} file.