The future of Artivity and Zeitgeist


Since the inception of this project the idea of capturing contextual research data started after looking at the idea of the semantic desktop. The main implementation of the semantic desktop was through the respective KDE and GNOME communities and particularly the Zeitgeist framework which was a core component allowing applications to interact with semantic desktop data. So Zeitgeist has been in the heart of this project from the beginning.
During recent discussion with the guys from Semiodesk we have come to the decision that although the idea of the semantic desktop is still very much the driving force behind the project, Zeitgeist is no longer the right choice for us. These are some reasons:

  • Zeitgeist is very much a GNU/Linux piece of software with certain dependencies such as DBus which are difficult to implement when porting to other platforms. This became an issue when we starting considering scaling Artivity up to support MacOSX which is an inevitable choice for artists and designers.
  • Zeitgeist runs well on GNOME and especially Debian-based distributions. But the software has not had a major release since 2011. The members of the Zeitgeist community have moved on to other projects and making changes to the software is not easy.
  • The Zeitgeist data model is somewhat limiting for the kind of tracking we are undertaking. It is designed to track events on the desktop but it does not really allow storing structured data from each application. This became an issue when we started considering how to export Artivity data and we considered the Artivity data model more carefully.

We wouldn't have decided to abandon Zeitgeist if a better option was not available. We were looking for open source software which would not limit us if we wanted to adopt different data models for the various Artivity applications, which would be cross-platform for at least GNU/Linux, MacOSX and MS Windows and which would rely on popular open source software with a much stronger presence than Zeitgeist.
As it happens, and this is the reason Semiodesk become a partner in the first place, Trinity is an open source platform that ticks all the boxes:

  • It is based on Mono so it can run on the three major platforms.
  • It adopts an RDF store as a backend database which means that any data model that can be expressed in RDF can be used to contribute to Artivity's tracking.
  • It relies on openlink virtuoso for storage which is an extremely popular RDF store.

Artivity's current tools have already been ported to MacOSX and MS Windows using Trinity and we are in the process of finalising the Artivity new data model and its mapping to two main ontologies. We will keep you updated on our progress here.

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