Meet Jena

Interview: Jena Java Libraries Enter Apache Incubator

Chris Dollin

Chris Dollin

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 ecosystem.....

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

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 aspects.

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 things.

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 organisation.

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 involve.

Jessica Thornsby

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