GSTAR Web Services

Web by David Reid

Web by David Reid

With all the source data prepped and ready to go, the next step is to build some demonstrators to show how such geosemantic resources can be used in practice. Whilst very powerful, a Sparql endpoint is not the most friendly way of interacting with data resources, especially from within a web based application where options for programming are a bit limited. There is still quite some debate on this topic which will be covered in more detail in the thesis (watch this space; still on track for submission 1st/2nd quarter 2016!) but the approach I have opted for is an API using web services to provide a range of outputs via a combination of URLs and parameters.

API vs Endpoint

The API is currently being finalised but the initial tests are working well, happily providing a range of outputs from the triple store. This approach allows the web service backend to draw on all the resources needed to handle geosemantic and respond to a range of requests in a form readily digestable by an xHTML+Javascript web application, including mapping. From a geospatial perspective, it means geospatial data can be requested from the webservice in a form ready to be mapped (eg JSON) or used in map popups (eg HTML) rather than having to process large piles of RDF within the browser. It also takes advantage of browser cacheing for the URL based resources, dramatically improving performance by reducing the need for trips to the server to get data.

SPARQLr – the GSTAR web service

Sparklers by Derek Key

Sparklers by Derek Key

The Sparqlr web service which implements the API is a RESTful service and is being built using Jersey which is a great platform for such tasks. This talks to the Parliament triple store via Jena with some Geotools components added to handle spatial data. As the service runs as a Java application on a GlassFish web server, it is possible to make use of the full range of Java tools out there without being limited to what can be achieved within a web browser. And thankfully, much of the code produced previously for the GSTAR Pilot is being recycled! As usual, all development is being undertaken using Eclipse+Maven.

Various queries can be performed in this way, some using basic URL syntax eg http://gstar:8080/sparqlr/api/features to return records about excavated features from archaeological archives as an RDF graph (default) or http://gstar:8080/sparqlr/api/artefacts/ntriple to return records about archaeological objects from museum collections as N-Triples. Parameters are also implemented which can be used to return particular records (eg http://gstar:8080/sparqlr/api/sites?MonUID=MWI11909 to return records about some pits near Stonehenge).

On the geosemantic front, parameters are also being used to pass in geometries as UTF-8 encoded WKT strings to facilitate spatial searches with the incoming WKT geometries used within the web service to add Geosparql filters to Sparql queries (eg http://gstar:8080/sparqlr/api/sites/within?polygon=POLYGON+%28%28569186.11565982+169502.18457639%2C+569186.02731245+169502.23116132%2C+569185.82348375+169502.25234642%2C+569185.70491406+169502.19113299%2C+569185.57672168+169502.04343594%2C+569185.54491719+169501.88381892%2C+569185.64107717+169501.66842781%2C+569185.82308162+169501.55315212%2C+569186.01894577+169501.56512577%2C+569186.19385893+169501.68723228%2C+569186.29291775+169501.91384472%2C+569186.25804717+169502.07848985%2C+569186.11565982+169502.18457639%29%29 to return all sites/monuments within a specified region such as a user generated polygon drawn on a web map).

The bulk of this is now up and running with the next step being to build the web application. This will involve the construction of a web map using OpenLayers to present results and facilitate user input (eg to capture polygonal search areas or points with buffer distances; the kind of spatial searches typically used within web based GIS).

One thought on “GSTAR Web Services

  1. Pingback: GSTAR web services; now with added GeoJSON | GSTAR

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