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Flash/Flex Left Out of Semantic Search?

Posted by Charles | June 19, 2008 .

Google claimed the web 3.0 is all about semantic web. The core of the semantic web is the semantic search. That where the niche point those new search startups are trying to beat search engine beast Google. There are very much hyped new comers such as PowerSet and TextWise that have become the most discussed/gossiped/funded new search startups. Not mention the other heavily funded semantic web players such as freebase and SezWhot Flash/Flex Left Out of Semantic Search? or Questi.

The new kid Hakia, however, takes a different approach. It opens up its semantic search engine API to all the developers.

Under the terms of the API, developers and startups will get 30,000 searches per day for free, and anything above that will require a license. The different types of applications the API can be used for include:

Web Search
News Search
Vertical Search (such as health or energy)
Text Summarizer
Text Categorizer
Text Characterizer (”Identifies and expands descriptive phrases or tags. Ideal for SEM”)
Text Meaning Representation

That are quite some serious stuffs you can play with in the semantic web space. However, the more you look at those semantic cool kids, the more you feel there is something been left out. That’s the information presented via Flash based UI. Maybe fundamentally Flash is just not the way of providing textual information. Or, semantic web just has nothing to do with UI or RIA. Then, how RIA and Flex can fit into the next big thing, the semantic web 3.0?

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4 Comments so far
  1. Justin  June 19, 2008 10:16 pm

    Charles, i understand what you are saying in reference to the lack of a Flex based UI for semantic web, but there are some out there. Filtrbox is a great example of this and uses Adobe Flex and Blaze DS. Filtrbox will be deploying a new UI soon for their general release, which really builds on the Flex UI experience and has some vast improvements that i think will excite you. Semantic web has a definite correlation with the UI, and in many cases, could not function properly without it. The UI has the power to filter information and provide the user with a efficient experience that curtailed by information overload. Flex definitely has a role to play in semantic web and will not be lost in the term “web 3.0″. I hope this gives you an idea of what others are doing with Flex, and just how flexible it is (bad pun). If you would like more information, please check out

  2. Tom Van den Eynde  June 20, 2008 2:24 am

    Actually I think that Flex based applications are a perfect preparation to the semantic web as they by nature require a structured data interface (through web services and/or AMF). So what we need is a way to tell the search engines where they can find the API that feeds the Flex application. It would of course be perfect if these search engines would be able to talk AMF. Given the fact that the protocol has been made open source this shouldn’t be a problem from a technical point of view (whether companies like Google will want to implement it is of course a different question…).

  3. Aldo Bucchi  June 20, 2008 4:46 pm


    Flash UIs are not documents, and they needn’t be. You need to get your head around that.

    They can be used to present and consume data, but they are not data containers per se. HTML and RDF are, they allow you to publish both unstructured and structured data onto the web.

    Data which then needs to be consumed… that’s where Flash can play a role.
    Is a terrific UI platform on top of which some of us have been building UIs for semantic web applications and platforms for quite some time now ( 4 years in my case, and TopQuadrant already has commercial products ).

    I just launched and I am trying to spearhead semweb uptake within the Flash/Flex community. There is a lot of work to be done.

    For now the topics are technical, but we will be raising the abstraction level as we move on. I want to solve some AS3 specific issues first.

    Join the discussion groups and stay tuned 😉

  4. joseh  June 26, 2008 11:25 am


    For SWF UI bits running in a Semantic Web application, try out We’ve used Flash/Flex pretty extensively to display our connections visualization, media bar, video player within our Entity Detail Pages. Also, there is a widget that’s been built entirely in Actionscript that runs within an article post. This widget allows you to explore top related PPTs (people, places, things), related articles, related video and connections in the context of the page it has been launched from.

    Using SWFs for these parts of the application, our distributed UI as it were, allows us to display some compelling visualizations and media as well as text links and article summaries. I think Flash/Flex is ideal for creating a compelling UI experience for all this data we can display and explore.

    Check it all out here: We’re still in private beta so register your email and you should get your invite soon. Enjoy and looking forward to your feedback!


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