Meet Jena

Interview: Jena Java Libraries Enter Apache Incubator

Jessica Thornsby

JAXenter speaks to Jena committer Chris Dollin, after the project graduated to the Apache Incubator.

Former HPLabs project Jena has entered the Apache Incubator. JAXenter
spoke to initial committer Chris Dollin, to find out more about the
project and what the future holds for Jena as part of the Apache

JAXenter: Jena has just graduated to the Apache
Incubator – but for those not familiar with the project, what is

Chris Dollin: Jena is a family of Java
libraries for handling RDF and OWL data. It includes multiple
storage systems for RDF, including interfaces to relational
databases, and parsers and writers for the major RDF formats, as
well as a rich programmers API. It contains an implementation of
the RDF query language SPARQL, including both client and server

JAXenter: What’s the advantage of having a
common platform for dealing with the low level details of the
semantic web standards?

Chris Dollin: Developers don’t have to start
from scratch (and some of those low-level details are pretty
scratchy), they can benefit from ongoing improvements to the
platform, and there’s a community of users around Jena that they
can join to receive or offer help.

JAXenter: Jena was originally created as part
of a research activity in HPLabs. How has HP’s decision to close
the research group in 2009, impacted on the project?

Chris Dollin: As it turned out, it hasn’t made
much difference yet. The original team members have continued to
work on Jena and the related standards – for example Jena’s SPARQL
implementation is tracking the activity of the SPARQL working group
— and the Jena BSD-style license already gave a lot of freedom,
but HP generously agreed in principle to grant the software to an
appropriate open source body. Apache, with its very clear IP
framework, is a great home for Jena and the Jena community.

Talking of which …

JAXenter: What’s the next step for Jena, now it
has successfully graduated to the Apache Incubator?

Chris Dollin: … I would say there are two

One is expanding the development team so that Jena development
doesn’t rely principally on the founders for code. That should be
easier now that we’re part of an explicit open-source

The other is a review of Jena, with one eye on the kinds of
things that our users commonly ask, for example how to handle large
models especially in the presence of inference, and the other eye
on the kind of historical cruft that any successful codebase
acquires. Then we can set helpful long-term goals and short-term
actions for Jena’s development, which helps both the users and the
developers, especially the new developers we’re hoping to

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