A brief guide to Jena Eyeball

This page is historical “for information only” - there is no Apache release of Eyeball and the code has not been updated for Jena3.

The original source code is available.

So you’ve got Eyeball installed and you’ve run it on one of your files, and Eyeball doesn’t like it. You’re not sure why, or what to do about it. Here’s what’s going on.

Eyeball inspects your model against a set of schemas. The default set of schemas includes RDF, RDFS, the XSD datatypes, and any models your model imports: you can add additional schemas from the command line or configuration file. Eyeball uses those schemas to work out what URIs count as “declared” in advance. It also checks URIs and literals for syntactic correctness and name space prefixes for being “sensible”. Let’s look at some of the messages you can get.

Unknown predicate reports

You’ll probably find several messages like this: predicate not declared in any schema: somePredicateURI

Eyeball treats the imported models, and (independently) the specified schemas, as single OntModels, and extracts those OntModels’ properties. It includes the RDF and RDFS schemas. Anything used as a predicate that isn’t one of those properties is reported.

If you’re using OWL, you can silence the “undeclared property” messages about OWL properties by adding to your Eyeball command line the option: -assume owl

Eyeball will read the OWL schema (it has a copy stashed away in the mirror directory) and add the declared properties to its known list. This works for any filename or URL you like, so long as there’s RDF there and it has a suitable file suffix - .n3 for N3 or .rdf or .owl for RDF/XML - and for the built-in names dc (basic Dublin Core), dcterms (Dublin Core terms) and dc-all (both). So you can construct your own schemas, which declare your own domain-specific property declarations, and invoke Eyeball with

-assume owl *mySchemaFile.n3* *otherSchemaFile.rdf*

You can give short names (like dc and rdfs) to your own schemas, or collections of schemas, using an Eyeball config file, but you’ll have to see the manual to find out how.

Unknown class reports

You may see messages like this:

class not declared in any schema: someClassURI

Having read the previous section, you can probably work out what’s going on: Eyeball reads the schemas (and imports) and extracts the declared OntClasses. Then anything used as a class that isn’t one of those declared classes is reported..

And that’s exactly it. “Used as a class” means appearing as C or D in any statement of the form:

\_ rdf:type C
\_ rdfs:domain C
\_ rdfs:range C
C rdfs:subClassOf D

Suppressing inspectors

It may be that you’re not interested in the “unknown predicate” or “unknown class” reports until you’ve sorted out the URIs. Or maybe you don’t care about them. In that case, you can switch them off.

Eyeball’s different checks are carried out by inspector classes. These classes are given short names by entries in Eyeball config files (which are RDF files written using N3; you can see the default config file by looking in Eyeball’s etc directory for eyeball2-config.n3). By adding eg:

-exclude property class

to the Eyeball command line, you can exclude the inspectors with those short names from the check. property is the short name for the “unknown property” inspector, and class is the short name for the “unknown class” inspector.

Namespace and URI reports

Eyeball checks all the URIs in the model, including (if available) those used for namespaces. (And literals, but see below.) Here’s an example:

bad namespace URI: "file:some-filename"
    on prefix: "pqr"
    for reason: file URI inappropriate for namespace

A “bad namespace URI” means that Eyeball doesn’t like the URI for a namespace in the model. The “on prefix” part of the report says what the namespace prefix is, and the “for reason” part gives the reason. In this case, we (the designer of Eyeball) feel that it is unwise to use file URIs - which tend to depend on internal details of your directory structure - for global concepts. A more usual reason is that the URI is syntactically illegal. Here are some possibilities:

problem explanation
URI contains spaces literal spaces are not legal in URIs. This usually arises from file URIs when the file has a space in its name. Spaces in URIs have to be encoded.
URI has no scheme The URI has no scheme at all. This usually happens when some relative URI hasn’t been resolved properly, eg there’s no xml base in an RDF/XML document.
URI has an unrecognised scheme The scheme part of the URI - the bit before the first colon - isn’t recognised. Eyeball knows, by default, four schemes: http, ftp, file, and urn. This usually arises when a QName has “escaped” from somewhere, or from a typo. You can tell Eyeball about other schemes, if you need them.
scheme should be lower-case The scheme part of the URI contains uppercase letters. While this is not actually wrong, it is unconventional and pointless.
URI doesn’t fit pattern Eyeball has some (weak) checks on the syntax of URIs in different schemes, expressed as patterns in its config files. If a URI doesn’t match the pattern, Eyeball reports this problem. At the moment, you’ll only get this report for a urn URI like urn:x-hp:23487682347 where the URN id (the bit between the first and second colons, here x-hp) is illegal.
URI syntax error A catch-all error: Java couldn’t make any sense of this URI at all.

Problems with literals

Eyeball checks literals (using the literal inspector, whose short name is literal if you want to switch it off), but the checking is quite weak because it doesn’t understand types at the moment. You can get two different classes of error.

bad language: someLanguageCode
on literal: theLiteralInQuestion

Literals with language codes (things like en-UK or de) are checked to make sure that the language code conforms to the general syntax for language codes: alphanumeric words separated by hyphens, with the first containing no digits.

(Later versions of Eyeball will likely allow you to specify which language codes you want to permit in your models. But we haven’t got there yet.)

bad datatype URI: someURI
on literal: theLiteralInQuestion
for reason: theReason

Similarly, literals with datatypes are checked to make sure that the type URI is legal. That’s it for the moment: Eyeball doesn’t try to find out if the URI really is a type URI, or if the spelling of the literal is OK for that type. But it spots the bad URIs. (The messages are the same as those that appear in the URI checking - above - for the very good reason that it’s the same code doing the checking.)

Problematic prefixes

Both RDF/XML and N3 allow (and RDF/XML requires) namespaces to be abbreviated by prefixes. Eyeball checks prefixes for two possible problems. The first:

non-standard namespace for prefix

This arises when a “standard” prefix has been bound to a namespace URI which isn’t its usual one. The “standard” prefixes are taken from Jena’s PrefixMapping.Extended and are currently:

**rdf, rdfs, owl, xsd, rss, vcard**

And the second:

Jena generated prefix found

This arises when the model contains prefixes of the form j.N, where N is a number. These are generated by Jena when writing RDF/XML for URIs that must have a prefix (because they are used as types or predicates) but haven’t been given one.

If you’re not bothered about inventing short prefixes for your namespaces, you can -exclude jena-prefix to suppress this inspection.

But how do I …

The reports described so far are part of Eyeball’s default set of inspections. There are some other checks that it can do that are switched off by default, because they are expensive, initially overwhelming, or downright obscure. If you need to add these checks to your eyeballing, this is how to do it.

… make sure everything is typed?

Some applications (or a general notion of cleanliness) require that every individual in an RDF model has an explicit rdf:type. The Eyeball check for this isn’t enabled by default, because lots of casual RDF use doesn’t need it, and more sophisticated use has models with enough inference power to infer types.

You can add the all-typed inspector to the inspectors that Eyeball will run by adding to the command line:

-inspectors defaultInspectors all-typed

The all-typed inspector will generate a message

resource has no rdf:type

for each resource in the model which is not the subject of an rdf:type statement.

… check for type consistency?

One easy mistake to make in RDF is to make an assertion - we’ll call it S P O - about some subject S which is “of the wrong type”, that is, not of whatever type P’s domain is. This isn’t, in principle, an error, since RDF resources can have multiple types, and this just makes S have a type which is a subtype of both P’s domain and whatever type it was supposed to have.

To spot this, and related problems, Eyeball has the consistent-type inspector. You can add it to the inspections in the same way as the all-typed inspector:

-inspectors defaultInspectors consistent-type

It checks that every resource which has been given at least one type has a type which is a subtype of all its types, under an additional assumption:

Types in the type graph (the network of rdfs:subClassOf statements)
are disjoint (share no instances) unless the type graph says
they're not.

For example, suppose that both A and B are subclasses of Top, and that there are no other subclass relationships. Then consistent-types assumes that there are (supposed to be) no resources which have both A and B as types. If it finds a resource X which does have both types, it generates a message like this:

no consistent type for: X
has associated type: A
has associated type: B
has associated type: Top

It’s up to you to disentangle the types and work out what went wrong.

Note: this test requires that Eyeball do a significant amount of inference, to complete the type hierarchy and check the domains and ranges of properties. It’s quite slow, which is one reason it isn’t switched on by default.

… check the right number of values for a property?

You want to make sure that your data has the right properties for things of a certain type: say, that a book has at least one author (or editor), an album has at least one track, nobody in your organisation has more than ten managers, a Jena contrib has at least a dc:creator, a dc:name, and a dc:description. You write some OWL cardinality constraints:

my:Type rdfs:subClassOf [owl:onProperty my:track;
owl:minCardinality 1]

Then you discover that, for wildly technical reasons, the OWL validation code in Jena doesn’t think it’s an error for some album to have no tracks (maybe there’s a namespace error). You can enable Eyeball’s cardinality inspector by adding

-inspectors cardinality

to the command line. You’ll now get a report item for every resource that has rdf:type your restricted type (my:Type above) but doesn’t have the right (at least one) value for the property. It will look something like:

cardinality failure for: my:Instance
    on type: my:Type
    on property: my:track
    cardinality range: [min: 1]
    number of values: 0
    values: {}

If there are some values for the property - say you’ve supplied an owl:maxCardinality restriction and then gone over the top - they get listed inside the values curly braces.