RDF or Resource Description Framework is a generic model for describing objects and data. The basic unit of RDF is the triple, which consists of a subject, predicate, and object.


RDF/XML is a common representation, and unfortunately is intimidating, miserable to work with by hand, and just barely gets by as human unreadable (it's designed for machine consumption).

RDF/N-triples (aka RDF/N3) is a quick-and-easy representation by Tim-Berners Lee. He has a beginner's N3 primer.

Turtle is another natural language-looking, N3-like syntax by Dave Beckett.

RDF/JSON is a description for RDF in JSON, perfect for use in browser-based web applications. Freebase also uses some kind of RDF-in-JSON representation, though different.

Dave Beckett has a summary on various RDF representations in 2010.


RDFa is a mechanism for embedding RDF triples in HTML attributes.


Competing formats

Microformats are oriented around special attribute values that go into elements' class= attributes. It has no support for namesspaces. It is not compatible with RDF.

Microdata is a section of the draft HTML5 specification that adds a set of new attributes (itemprop, etc) to better expose data than microformats. Has some kind of support for namespaces. It can be made compatible with RDF.