Neo4j vs RDF

Neo4j CEO discusses the pros and cons of RDF

RDF is almost used synonymously with the Semantic Web since its creation in 1997. It is widely used in the most popular semantic resources such as schema.org. Neo4j CEO Emil Eifrem is also an expert on the Semantic web, and is a fan of modeling the world as a graph. However, Neo4j and the Semantic Web has their difference, and he is clear about where he stands.

He claims that RDF is too granular and is burdened with having to create each node with also specifying vertices. He respects the work as being smart and good in an academic sense, but finds the API and the software weak and lackluster. He believes that inheritance is an example of what is wrong with RDF. He adds: “People thought, hey, I want to be able to model everything, and they added all these features, resulting in OWL being so complicated that nobody can use it in practice.”

Also, he criticizes the structure of RDF stores, which are index based in contrast to being navigational. He says that while it does not create problems for shallow queries, it makes the deeper queries and path analysis inconvenient.

RDF might still be the leading the Semantic Web for now, but the points he made are pretty strong. As a W3C standard, RDF might have to renovate itself or it might find itself abandoned sooner than anticipated.