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License-oriented metadata validator and viewer: libvalidator

Hugo Dworak, July 8th, 2008

As the Google Summer of Code 2008 midterm evaluation deadline is approaching, it is a good time to report the progress when it comes to the license-oriented metadata validator and viewer.

The source code is located in two dedicated git repositories. The first being validator, which contains the source code of the Web application based on Pylons and Genshi. The second repository is libvalidator, which hosts the files that constitute the core library that the project will utilise. This is the component that the development focuses on right now.

The purpose of the aforementioned library is to parse input files, scan them for relevant license information, and output the results in a machine-readable fashion. More precisely, its workflow is the following: parse the file and associated RDF information so that a complete set of RDF data is available, filter the results with regard to license information (not only related to the document itself, but also to other objects described within it), and return the results in a manner preferable for the usage by the Web application.

pyRdfa seems to be the best tool for the parsing stage so far. It handles the current recommendation for embedding license metadata (namely RDFa) as well as other non-deprecated methods: linking to an external or embedded (using the “data” URL scheme) RDF files and utilising the Dublin Core. The significant lacking is handling of the invalid direct embedding of RDF/XML within the HTML/XHTML source code (as an element or in a comment) and this is resolved by first capturing all such instances using a regular expression and then parsing the data just as external RDF/XML files.

Once the RDF triples are extracted, one can use SPARQL to narrow the results just to the triples related to the licensed objects. Both librdf and rdflib support this language. Moreover, the RDF/XML related to the license must be parsed, so that its conditions (permissions, requirements, and restrictions) are then presented to the user.

The library takes advantage of standard Python tools such as Buildout and nose. When it is completed, the project will be all about writing a Web application that will serve as an interface to libvalidator.

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