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RDFox Blog

Starting your RDFox journey

Starting your RDFox journey
Felicity Mulford

Getting used to a new product can be a pain. At Oxford Semantic Technologies we know this can put people off moving to something new. That’s why we care about our new users’ experiences. Although RDFox is cutting-edge, we want it to be accessible and easy to use.

This short Q&A session tapped into the experiences of Legislate’s knowledge engineer, Vaishali Raghvani, as she began her journey with RDFox at the beginning of 2021. Legislate’s knowledge graph streamlines contract drafting and management for its users. It prefills the contract with domain expertise and aggregates statistics from and between contracts effortlessly.

What were your first impressions of RDFox?

“I’m not the most experienced when it comes to coding, so initially I was a bit apprehensive. However, as soon as I got stuck in all of my worries or concerns faded away… I picked up Turtle, Datalog and SPARQL really quickly! The pattern behaviour of SPARQL is very easy to understand and makes it easy to spot your mistakes, since you just have to look at what went wrong or what you might be missing within your pattern.”

What was the key challenge you encountered?

“At the beginning it was a bit of a challenge learning how to spot where I went wrong, with little things like syntax.”

How did you overcome this challenge?

“Having support from OST’s Knowledge Engineers was great. They’ve been fantastic with providing feedback, helping me out with my errors and in general are helping me learn a lot, and very quickly too! Making a record of syntax and common errors as I encountered them helped me learn how to use SPARQL and Turtle.”

How has your perception of RDFox, and Knowledge graphs more broadly, evolved over the first 4 weeks?

“I was expecting it to be quite confusing and difficult to pick up. Within the first week I realised it was much easier than I had expected. It is very intuitive. The knowledge graphs have impressed many of my colleagues, and once they got to see a visual representation of how it works, we were all impressed by what RDFox is capable of.”

How does RDFox compare to other programs?

“One of the best things about RDFox is how quick it can compute values. As a semantic reasoning engine, it is optimised for speed, but my only experience in the beginning of my role was with RDFox, so now that I’ve started using other programs such as MySQL, it is easy to see how quick RDFox is in comparison.”

What’s your favourite feature of RDFox?

“Being able to see what the knowledge graph looks like on the console — everything sinks in once you’ve seen a visual representation of what you’re working on.”

“It’s also very intuitive to understand, so you can quickly understand what you’ve been doing and where you need to make changes. As a beginner, when I’m struggling to understand how things link together, or how to make pieces of information link in the right way, it’s much easier to be able to see where the links should be and then work backwards. I also think it speeds up the process of getting to the solution.”

What tips would you give to an apprentice knowledge engineer?

“Make notes about syntax, and any tips and tricks you learn as you go along. It makes things a lot easier, because you can always refer back to your ‘cheat sheet’ if you’re struggling with something. It also stops you from making the same mistake again.”

As an extension to this article, we wrote another that goes though Vaishali's RDFox cheat sheet. We'd really recommend it for anyone just starting up, or those looking for a quick refresher!

To try RDFox yourself, you can request a 30 day free trial or a demonstration. Check out the RDFox info page to learn more or for more RDFox stories, take a look at our blog!

About Legislate Technologies

Legislate is an early stage legal technology startup which allows large landlords and small businesses to easily create, sign and manage contracts that are prudent and fair. Legislate’s platform is built on a patent-pending knowledge graph which streamlines the contracting process and aggregates contract statistics to quickly unlock valuable insights. Legislate’s team marries technical and legal expertise to create a painless contracting experience for its users.

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Team and Resources

The team behind Oxford Semantic Technologies started working on RDFox in 2011 at the Computer Science Department of the University of Oxford with the conviction that flexible and high-performance reasoning was a possibility for data-intensive applications without jeopardising the correctness of the results. RDFox is the first market-ready knowledge graph designed from the ground up with reasoning in mind. Oxford Semantic Technologies is a spin-out of the University of Oxford and is backed by leading investors including Samsung Venture Investment Corporation (SVIC), Oxford Sciences Enterprises (OSE) and Oxford University Innovation (OUI).