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The Media United Kingdom

New BBC Sports Website Makes Heavy Use of RDF 89

New submitter whyloginwhysubscribe writes "A technical blog post describes how the BBC has rolled out the latest changes to its sports website in anticipation of the Summer Olympics in London. The innovative content management system extends the already available dynamic semantic publishing, which enables their journalists 'to spend more time creating great content and less time managing that content.' The post covers some of the technical and lots of the HCI / UI design decisions and is accompanied by a non-technical overview of the re-design."
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New BBC Sports Website Makes Heavy Use of RDF

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  • by Ferzerp ( 83619 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:12PM (#38893703)

    They had better be careful. Apple is a very lawsuit-happy corporation.

  • RDF? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mpeskett ( 1221084 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:12PM (#38893705)
    Wish it was more common in writing to define an acronym before using it, especially one that doesn't appear in the article.
  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:12PM (#38893711) Homepage Journal

    BBC has rolled out the latest changes to it's sports website

    Did they include an erroneous apostrophe detector?

    • I'm sure they did. It's got to somewhere among the 76 individual <script src="..."> includes or 73 inline <script> ... </script> tags.

      Looking at this source code... it makes me cry on the inside just a little bit.

      • by Menkhaf ( 627996 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @03:38PM (#38894835)

        On a similar note, what's up with the 5196 empty lines?

        ~/tmp$ grep ^$ launching_bbc_sport_new.html |wc
              5196 0 5196

        ...or the 21360 kB of whitespace?

        ~/tmp$ grep '^[[:blank:]]*$' launching_bbc_sport_new.html |wc
              5896 1400 21360

        That's one sixth of the page size (excluding external sources).

        And speaking of external sources: 336 kB of Javascript. Neat, huh?

        ~/tmp/bbc$ for i in `grep --color=never -o 'src="http://[[:alnum:][:punct:]/]*"' launching_bbc_sport_new.html |sed -r 's/src="//' | sed -r 's/"//'|grep '.js' --color=never`; do wget $i; done;
        ~/tmp/bbc$ du -ch *.js*
        28K bbccom.js
        28K blq_core.js
        16K comments-blog.js
        8.0K embed.js
        16K gloader.0.1.6.js
        16K gloader.js
        8.0K gw.js?csid=J08781
        20K id-core.js
        60K id.js
        24K require.js
        64K s_code.js
        36K sharetools.js
        12K swfobject.js
        336K total

        I haven't done any webpage project nearly as big as what I imagine BBC to be, but still, 476 kB all in all. Wow.

        • by jd ( 1658 )

          The whitespace is so that they can add whatever content or images they like whilst leaving network transfer times the same.

      • It's got to somewhere among

        Makes me cry on the outside.

  • Apostrophe? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jginspace ( 678908 ) <> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:14PM (#38893731) Homepage Journal

    the BBC has rolled out the latest changes to it's sports website

    New submitter (and Unknown Lamer) could have learned how to use the apostrophe.

  • So, is Web 3.0 going to be hectic dynamically tiled web design that looks like it belongs on TMZ and other gossip rags rather than respected news websites? There is such a thing as too much active content, you know
    • Re:Ugh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Elf Sternberg ( 13087 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:41PM (#38894085) Homepage

      It depends upon how "active" you want it to be. RDF is mostly for the back-end anyway.

      As a developer heavily involved in building RDF/RDFA utilities, I can't begin to express just how annoying it is to see a Slashdot header pointing to a "technical blog post" that has absolutely no mention of the technology used: nothing about the libraries or server platforms used; nothing about the trade-offs with client desktop vs mobile vs legacy (IE7 / FF3.x) vs. ARIA (accessibility). If you search through the article, you find a link to another article that says they use Silverlight (WTF!?) to handle their contentEditable stuff, Java as their RDFa store, and PHP as their deployment strategy. It looks like an overpriced, incoherent mess that's already headed for legacy status.

    • You can make horrible UI's no matter what the web version used. Their tech guys are trying moving forward, while the designers aren't. What's your point, really?

      • Re:Ugh (Score:5, Informative)

        by jd ( 1658 ) <[imipak] [at] []> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:48PM (#38898323) Homepage Journal

        The BBC was one of the first websites to actually survive the Slashdot Effect (and report having done so), an achievement worthy of an award at the time. Their tech guys also invented the Dirac format (which they have yet to use for anything). The BBC multicasts at least some of their channels and provides the iPlayer for VoD-ing programs later (pity they don't support PPV for out-of-country, but it's a start).

        As such, I'd say their tech guys have defined "forward" for the next decade for everyone else. It's good to see them continuing to experiment as well as adapt to the new medium. Research and development has pretty much died - where it ever existed - amongst many of the major television stations. Given their financial situation, I'm actually very impressed that they're putting money into technical innovation.

        • "Given their financial situation, I'm actually very impressed that they're putting money into technical innovation."

          The BBC don't have a financial problem. They just tax everyone with a TV in the UK - even if you never watch their stuff. Other TV companies have to earn their money.


          • and as such have produced much of the best tv ever produced.

            so it's a price worth paying and well worth it if you want to compare against the networks paying millions to people probably not worth it, or endless friends&co re-runs....

          • Re:Ugh (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Xest ( 935314 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @10:35AM (#38902139)

            "They just tax everyone with a TV in the UK - even if you never watch their stuff."

            They tax everyone who watches live broadcast TV in the UK.

            Yes, whilst a fair whack goes to the BBC, it also goes to looking after the broadcast infrastructure in the UK also. you might have noticed recent talk about using surplus from the digital switchover fund which came from the BBC's pool of money being used to fund broadband too.

            So enough of the bollocks about having to pay for something you don't use, you do use it, if you watch UK broadcast TV live, you're getting benefit from the license fee. If you don't watch broadcast TV live, you have no need to pay the license fee. Chances are even if you pay for Sky, or Virgin and solely use that, you've watched shows that are at least in part funded by the license fee.

            People stupidly believe the FUD that the license fee only pays for the actual BBC channels, but it doesn't - it pays for the content they produce, that's shown elsewhere, the broadcast network, subsidies for ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5, and also any number of projects related to media access in the UK.

            The BBC are restricted in how well they can generate resources to compete- Sky gets more income than the BBC does from license fees, and whilst the BBC could compete, it's been artificially restricted from doing so at the behest of Murdoch due to his corrupt links with numerous high ranking government ministers.

            BBC World was growing incredibly fast as a result of the quality and popularity of their content (i.e. Planet Earth), and the BBC was looking at producing set top boxes along with the likes of ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5 for on demand TV well ahead of it's time (long before Apple TV, and Google TV etc.). These are examples of where, due to Sky/Virgin lobbying the BBC has been artificially held back. The worst part is, for people like you, who clearly detest the license fee, that it could've been reduced, or even abolished if the BBC was allowed to pursue these revenue streams. Effectively despite Sky receiving higher income than the BBC by quite a margin, the BBC was restricted because despite it's lower income, it was out competing Sky due to better innovating. Now, ministers have prevented it innovating, so that Sky could continue to make more money, without having to bother to innovate.

            It's somewhat of a coup too, the BBC was established to be independent of government, but government does have some control over it's budget, and the Tories most recently have abused that to restrict the BBC's ability to outcompete the likes of Sky based on innovation. Both previously Labour and now the Tories know they can't use the BBC to push their agenda because it is at least editorially independent, so instead they use their control over it's budget to restrict it's ability to compete with Sky which, being controlled so heavily by Murdoch they can use to push their agenda - when you understand this context, you'll understand why Jeremy Hunt was so openly going to allow the full News International takeover of Sky despite the blatant evidence of corruption right until the point it became a truly untenable position to defend. He was willing to be so openly corrupt because he knew that if it succeeded that a couple of years Murdoch propaganda before the next election would make him and his party look like saints again regardless.

            There's a reason Murdoch's press and it's biggest ally, The Daily Mail create this anti-BBC propaganda about how you're paying for Jonathan Ross' extortionate salary and so forth and harp on about how unfair the license fee is if you don't watch Eastenders ignoring everything else the license fee goes to in their articles. I have plenty of complaints about some areas of the BBC myself, but make no mistake it's still one of the best editorially independent news outlet in the world, still arguably the best producer of documentairies in the world, and most importantly - it's under attack by vested interests.

            So by all means back the propaganda, pretend it's some evil that must be destroyed, but don't come fucking crying when we have the kind of sensationalist polarising bullshit you get from Fox News in the US - because that's Murdoch's vision for the UK. That's what Jeremy Hunt's support for Sky was designed to achieve, and that's what increased restrictions on the BBC will do. It'll also mean greater license fees in the meantime as the BBC's ability to generate revenue is also crippled, and it'll mean more axed products that really would take the merging of TV and technology forward.

            Yes bills suck, but this is one I'm happy to pay, because it's a major factor in protecting the long term health of our already sickly democracy. There's a reason Russia and Iran were desperate to have TV channels in the UK, there's a reason countries like Iran, Syria, and previously Libya restrict who can produce TV, there's a reason US politicians, candidates, and shills like Sarah Palin are desperate to get themselves on TV as much as possible, there's a reason people like Berlusconi and Sarkozy became so prominent in the politics of their country having long had large stakes in media organisations in their countries - because controlling the media is a major factor in controlling power. Don't naively believe that UK politics is immune from that - god only knows the phone hacking scandal has demonstrated it isn't. The BBC is an important institution because that's precisely what it's designed to protect against - exploitation/corruption of the media as a route to power, rather than simply doing good politics.

            If you've ever been one of those people on Slashdot that's asked why on earth governments listen to minority industries over things like ACTA, even though they risk harming far more profitable industries like technology then there's your answer - because Google doesn't get you elected, the likes of Fox News does.

            • by jd ( 1658 )

              Agreed, and it now also pays for the World Service (which used to be paid via the Foreign Office), not to mention virtually all local and national radio, not to mention the BBC news service, all royalties owed due to people ordering content via iPlayer, their research division (the Olympics is due to be shown in Ultra-High Definition TV, something for which there is no meaningful off-the-shelf hardware to support, they're having to make it themselves), etc.

              For the longest time, it also covered the Radiophon

          • "Given their financial situation, I'm actually very impressed that they're putting money into technical innovation."

            The BBC don't have a financial problem. They just tax everyone with a TV in the UK - even if you never watch their stuff. Other TV companies have to earn their money.


            Who would have a TV in the UK and never watch the BBC? About twelve people who just want Sky Sports, so fuck them and the Murdoch-faced horse they rode in on.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:19PM (#38893799)

    Unfortunately we have a bit of a backlog, and the year of the semantic web is current queued just behind the year of the linux desktop, so there may be a short delay.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by errandum ( 2014454 )

      Flash had been around for over 5 years until it became the unofficial standard for rich internet applications (right around the time youtube showed up).

      The idea behind the semantic web (context > statistics) is not a bad one, the biggest problem I see though is that everyone is trying to implement it using entirely new standards and with an utopic ideal. If they worked on how to get existing technologies to take advantage of all those ideas (for ex: altering SQL to accept the returning of relations inste

      • What's the alternative to RDF and OWL?

        And I'd say SPARQL is a good as it gets in terms of a derivative of SQL that's adapted to query triples instead of simple records. If you know SQL and understand RDF, it's pretty easy to pick up.

        SELECT ?x ?name
        WHERE { ?x foaf:name ?name }

        The only difference there is that the condition is a triple, but that's inevitable.

      • by jrumney ( 197329 )

        Flash had been around for over 5 years until it became the unofficial standard for rich internet applications (right around the time youtube showed up).

        Youtube has nothing to do with RIA BTW, Flash was just used for video playback. Flash never became the standard for RIA, because RIA didn't really take off until Javascript performance and browser standardization made AJAX viable.

        • Never said it was, but because of youtube flash got installed pretty much everywhere.

          You said they never took off, but have you ever seen, for example, a blockbuster movie website made in the last 10 years? It's all flash. Same with big companies like mcdonnalds or coca cola.

          And you mention AJAX, do you know what it is? Javascript, yes, but AJAX was not a game changer at all.

        • and on a sidenote, click where it says "major platforms"


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:21PM (#38893839)

    Apparently they're talking about the Resource_Description_Framework [].

  • Shame... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by unts ( 754160 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:23PM (#38893863) Homepage Journal
    So if such an incredible amount of effort went into getting the HCI/UI/UX right, then why does it look... awful, just awful? It's a shame really, for a site that's existed for so long.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by realmolo ( 574068 )

      Why does it look awful? Here's why:

      1. Money. Someone has to get paid to design this thing, and the BBC probably prefers to pay somebody (or some firm) with the right political connections, regardless of their design talent.

      2. Sports fans are tacky motherfuckers. Have you seen what sports fans wear? Neon fucking nightmares, every one of them. They probably LOVE the new design.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PDoc ( 841773 )
      Damn right. I just gave them some feedback (which you can too at []): "Why does the new site use so little screen space? On a fairly standard monitor, less than half of my screen space is being used by content. The yellow/black theme is fine, but throwing blue into the mix is horrible! The shade of blue chosen is also almost identical to that used in Windows 7 to highlighted text. There is also very little commonality in CSS - why are some sect
    • The choice of bright yellow as a theme is awful. On the plus side, it's one of the few actively maintained sites that doesn't have advertising. So it's got that on it's side.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by owlnation ( 858981 )

        it's one of the few actively maintained sites that doesn't have advertising.

        Not quite. It's the BBC, so they are not allowed to advertise. But... they do, all the time. They are just more devious about it. Sure, yes, there's no banners or sidebars with ads. But they will make sure they get team's sponsor's logos in their pics, they'll mention sponsors names where possible, etc. As well as the fact that sport is a big-business commercial product all by itself. You can absolutely guarantee a lot of corpora

        • they'll mention sponsors names where possible

          Never heard such a load of old bollocks..

        • What utter trollish shit.

          For sure sports themselves have sponsors,and so if taking photos or videos of sports and sportsmen, any logos they are wearing will be in the picture. But to suggest that the BBC go out of their way to include such sponsorship, let alone ads, is the very opposite of the truth.

          Take for example Snooker, which has always been heavily sponsored. The snooker page (as server in the UK) has no sign of any sponsors or ads, other than in a single photo where the logo is incidentally to be s

      • by Pope ( 17780 )

        What? There are ads, a banner at the top and a box ad on the side when you're in a story.

      • > On the plus side, it's one of the few actively maintained sites that doesn't have advertising.

        They run advertising for users outside of the UK. Users in the UK don't see any advertising.

        More information is in the BBC Online FAQ: []

        • > On the plus side, it's one of the few actively maintained sites that doesn't have advertising.

          They run advertising for users outside of the UK. Users in the UK don't see any advertising.

          OK, that makes sense. Good for us Brits then.

    • by wanzeo ( 1800058 )

      It feels exactly like MSN, which is not a compliment. There is an upper limit to the number of links I can read on a single page before it becomes a "where's Waldo" experience. At this point I usually go to a search engine.

      If the sucess of Facebook and Google suggest anything, it's that clean interfaces are appealing to most people.

    • So if such an incredible amount of effort went into getting the HCI/UI/UX right, then why does it look... awful, just awful?

      For consistency? []

      I think it's a corporate standard that things have to look like they were made by a 14 year old work experience boy.

  • ...and got a shock.

    It looks like it's a trial run for Microsoft's Metro UI that's going to appear in Windows 8. (Not a good thing, in my opinion).

  • Semantic publishing (Score:5, Informative)

    by ygslash ( 893445 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:49PM (#38894177) Journal

    The interesting part is behind a link buried deep inside this post. It's the dynamic semantic publishing [] engine, which was originally used on their World Cup 2010 [] site.

    • by jd ( 1658 )

      There are many RDF-based languages (DublinCore, for example). Microsoft have their own metadata format and Google supports Microformats. The situation is an unholy mess.

      OWL may or may not be the way to go, but there needs to be more of an effort to standardize the metadata or it will be impossible to utilize.

  • Unfortunately two-thirds of the pages are reserved for corporate sponsors and the public is required to enter a raffle to have to have the opportunity of viewing the remaining pages, most of which are concerned with lawn bowling and tiddlywinks.

    Only VISA is accepted for page view payments.

    Do not attempt to drink non-sponsoring beverages whilst viewing the pages.

    Note to non-UKians: this is indeed satire.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Note to non-English-speakers: if you're going to write satire (or any prose) in English, try to avoid foreign idioms like "UKians" or "USians". No native English speaker ever uses that form, and it is like ruining a joke by stuttering on the punch line.

    • Note to non-UKians: this is indeed satire.

      From someone else who is a UKian, and lives in Lincolnshire; this indeed is not satire..

  • Submitter or editor made a spelling mistake. Site apparently uses a lot of PDF, which is a proprietary Portable Document Format.

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