FAQ – TopBraid Live

FAQ – TopBraid Live


[expand title=”What is TopBraid Live?”]

TopBraid Live is as an enterprise application server for deploying read/write semantic web and Linked Data applications. It is an intelligent business applications platform that includes all capabilities of TopBraid technologies. For more information about TopBraid architecture and capabilities, see TopBraid Platform page.

TopBraid Live is deployed as a .war file on a servlet container (Apache Tomcat).


[expand title=”How TopQuadrant’s customers are using TopBraid Live? “]

Customers are using TopBraid Live to build a variety of business solutions. While each solution has some unique business requirements, they also share many common characteristics as all customers typically use TopBraid Live to accomplish one or more of the following goals:

• Aggregate and integrate data irrespective of its structure and format
• Reduce the time it takes to build and deploy new information services that rely on disparate and complex data
• Unlock legacy data and schemas by representing them in a W3C standard format ready for aggregation and use
• Enable migration to SOA by making integrated information available as web services
• Add intelligence to data by using rules and inference technologies
• Capture business logic, vocabularies and rules using standard semantics


[expand title=”How can I get started with TopBraid Live? “]

Majority of customers utilize our Jumpstart Program as a way to get started. For more information about this program and to discuss evaluation licenses of TBL, contact us at sales@topquadrant.com.

All TopBraid Live capabilities can be tested locally in the development environment using TopBraid Composer Maestro Edition (TBC-ME), an IDE for TopBraid Live, by pointing to http://localhost:8083/tbl. TBC-ME can be downloaded for a free evaluation. For more information on TBC, see TopBraid Composer FAQs.


[expand title=”Is TopBraid Live training available? “]

Yes. TopQuadrant offers a variety of training options. For more information see our training overview page. Jumpstart packages is another popular approach to competency development.


[expand title=”What professional services are available for TopBraid Live customers? “]

Each organization and project is different. Some have significant IT resources in house or are working with a preferred systems integrator. They need training, mentoring and solution assurance assistance. Other organizations are looking for a vendor to be responsible for the implementation. Recognizing the different needs, TopQuadrant offers flexible and modular services that can be easily customized including:

• Discovery Services
• Modeling Services including ontology, rules and query development
• Solution Implementation Services
• Comprehensive Training and Mentoring Services

TopQuadrant’s products together with our supporting professional services provide a pragmatic, solutions lifecycle approach that combines tools, methods, knowledge assets, trainings and solution implementation services.


[expand title=”Is there a User Group Forum for TopBraid Live?”]

Yes. You can join the TopBraid Users Group – just click the link below

TopBraid Users


[expand title=”How can I contact support?”]

Premium Support customers can link to our online ticket system Help Desk or Email us


[expand title=”How often does TopQuadrant release new versions of TopBraid Live?”]

Major and/or minor releases happen twice a year. Maintenance release are made available on “as needed” basis.


[expand title=”How can I make sure that my organization’s requirements are addressed in the product roadmap?”]

TopQuadrant’s product release and update process is to a large extent customer driven. We are always interested in hearing from customers. All customer enhancement requests are logged in our requirements management system and considered when planning product releases.

Key factors determining selection and prioritization of capabilities are: frequency and commonality of requests for a capability across the current customer base; alignment with the strategic product direction. Any customer can submit requirements to us through the regular support channels. All major customers have a designated account manager providing the most efficient venue to communicating their requirements. This role is specifically designed to focus on understanding customer needs and offering solutions to address them.



[expand title=”What formats and data sources are supported by TopBraid Live?”]

TopBraid Live has connectors to multiple data providers: RDBMS, Excel, CSV, UML, XML, RDFa, RSS/Atom, Email, SPARQL endpoint, RDF serializations (RDF/XML-abbreviated, RDF/XML, Turtle, N3). TopBraid architecture allows new data connectors to be easily added to the solution.

TopBraid can return information as RDF serialization, JSON, XML, Excel, text.


[expand title=”Are Web Services supported?”]

Absolutely. TopBraid Live includes built-in web services such as SPARQL endpoint and a tbl/describe servlet that returns information about each resource. In addition to the bundled web services, TopBraid Live can also host any number of custom web services created by users/administrators.

Common to all TopBraid custom web services is that they can be called either via GET or POST requests, and that they are created declaratively: the web services are stored in RDF and typically created with TopBraid Composer. This ensures that web services are seamlessly integrated with the data models/ontologies that they expose. Changes to an ontology will automatically update the web services etc. Furthermore, no “programming” in the traditional sense is needed to create those services. The following technologies and approaches are used to create web services with TopBraid:

Saved Searches

Even application end users can create web services with TopBraid Live. It is as simple as saving a search. TopBraid Live includes a powerful search form that can be used to filter instances of a given class by some properties, for example to find “All Islands that have a size smaller than 1000 square kilometers”:


There is a little Save button under the search form, allowing users to save the current search form so that it can be restored later. As a side effect, any of those saved searches can also be called as a web service with the URL provided by the dialog as shown below:


You can copy and paste the URL of the service from the dialog above, and it will produce any of the standard result formats. The Search Form is SPARQL Web Pages Application Component that can be used in any TopBraid Live application.

SPIN Templates

In a nutshell, a SPIN Template is a SPARQL query that can take parameters which are mapped to pre-bound variables. A template is a bit like a stored procedure from SQL databases in that it encapsulates a complex query and gives it a name. Any SPIN Template saved in a .spin.* file can be called as a web service, via the tbl/template servlet. Format of results is specified as a parameter and can be any of the SPARQL result set formats including CSV, TSV, XML and JSON.

Other than saved searches, SPIN templates is the simplest approach to creating web services with TopBraid. This approach should be used when the only processing required to return results is a query. When additional programming logic is required, use SPARQLMotion or SPARQL Web Pages.


SPARQLMotion is an RDF-based ETL scripting language with a graphical notations. TopBraid Composer Maestro Edition provides drag and drop graphical editor for creating SPARQLMotion scripts.

SPARQLMotion scripts are data processing pipelines that can take some input (e.g. web service arguments), import and aggregate data from external sources, perform some processing (SPARQL etc) and export results in various formats. Over 100 pre-built modules are available for creating pipelines. Note that SPARQL Web Pages (SWP) provides an alternative syntax for exposing SPARQLMotion functionality as web services.

SWP Services

SPARQL Web Pages (SWP) is probably best known for its ability to create HTML renderings of RDF data, but it can also produce any other textual serialization including JSON or XML.

SWP is much more powerful approach to building web services than SPIN templates because it includes sophisticated control elements such as if-then-else and forEach. It provides full flexibility of a programming language. Furthermore, SWP services can also include most of the SPARQLMotion modules in a compact textual notation.


[expand title=”What standards are supported by TopBraid Live?”]

Semantic web standards: RDF, RDFS, OWL, SPARQL, SPIN, JSON-LD, RDFa, SKOS.
Web standards: HTTP(S), XML, JSON, HTML, REST, RSS/Atom
Application development standards: LDAP, JMS, J2EE, AJAX


[expand title=”Is Linked Data supported? “]

Yes, TopBraid Live is a Link Data server. See Linked Data solution page for more information.


[expand title=”Does TopBraid Live integrate with ______ triple store? “]

TopBraid workspace is a named graph triplestore. This means that it has an important feature of organizing RDF triples into sets or graphs. Graphs can be persisted as files in TopBraid workspace or stored in the databases external to the workspace. TopBraid platform includes both an RDF-native and RDBMS-based database system for storing triples.

With this, TopBraid Live users don’t need an additional third party triplestore to address their RDF storage and query requirements. Having said this, TopBraid includes connectors to select third party triplestores. For the most up to date information on supported platforms, consult the the Supported Platforms page.


[expand title=”What APIs are available? “]

Information managed by TopBraid Live can be accessed through a SPARQL Endpoint RESTful web service or specific RESTful web services described in the Web Services and Linked Data sections of these FAQs.


[expand title=”How does authentication and security work with TopBraid Live? “]

Security is managed by the Application Server and LDAP (or Active Directory). The granularity of security is at the graph level.



[expand title=”What tools can I use to develop TopBraid Live applications?”]

TopBraid Composer Maestro Edition is an IDE for TopBraid applications. It is used to create, test and debug application components and services with all TopBraid application development technologies:
o SPIN – SPARQL rules, templates and data quality constraints.
o SPARQLMotion – data processing pipelines and services. Includes over 100 pre-built data processing modules.
o SPARQL Web Pages and Application Components.


[expand title=”How can I extend SPARQL to support some specialized processing needs I have?”]

You can use application development capabilities of TopBraid Composer, IDE for TopBraid Live. The following options are available:
1. SPIN and SPARQLMotion. See the TopBraid Composer FAQ on creating SPIN functions.
2. Magic properties (aka property functions). See Magic Properties with SPIN. Magic properties extend SPARQL by defining SPARQL predicates with SPARQL queries. This works like a SPIN function, except that it creates multiple matches and is used in a triple pattern format, e.g. “?x my:magicProperty ?y”.

There are also a number of pre-defined SPARQL functions included with TopBraid platform. Using TopBraid Composer, see Help > Reference > TopBraid SPARQLMotion Functions Library.


[expand title=”We plan to build a web application using _____ JavaScript framework (e.g., Knockout.js). How can this work with TopBraid Live?”]

Any web application framework can be used with TopBraid Live’s RESTful web services interfaces delivering JSON to the client. Additionally, we recommend considering SPARQL Web Pages (SWP) and SWP Application Component Library (SWA) for building web applications.

Hybrid approaches are also possible where SWA component(s) are embedded into a web application built using any framework. For a description of this approach see http://composing-the-semantic-web.blogspot.com/2013/06/embedding-swp-components-into-web-pages.html.


[expand title=”Can frequently used queries be cached?”]

Query designer can specify SPIN functions as ‘cacheable’. This is similar to caching inferences.


[expand title=”How can I use inferencing with TopBraid Live? “]

TopBraid Live supports SPIN, a standards-based way to define rules and constraints for Semantic Web data using SPARQL. Since these business rules are in SPARQL they can execute directly on any RDF data and models. SPIN is an open specification that has been submitted to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and can be viewed on the W3C site.
TopBraid includes pre-built SPIN templates for OWL 2 RL profile. Customers use TopBraid Composer with its convenient SPIN/SPARQL editors with syntax highlighting and auto-completion to create their own rules libraries. Rules are scoped by the class they have been defined for.

Built-in inference engine (TopSPIN) is used to execute SPIN rules. Incremental inferencing mode is available. SPIN-based inferencing can be used together with other types of inferencing. TopBraid also supports Jena Rules and SwiftOWLIM.


[expand title=”How can I check data and create consistency rules against a model? “]

TopBraid platform offers comprehensive capabilities for running data analysis and quality checks. SPIN engine can execute a variety of rules: validating, calculations, deducing, and alerting:

• Validating rules can be used to determine if the asserted information is valid in accordance with the asserted rules (RDFS, SKOS or user-defined)
• Calculation rules can be used to calculate and assert additional information such as totals, averages etc.
• Deduction rules can be used to deduce additional knowledge which had not been asserted.
• Alerting rules can be used to detect an anomaly and then provide an alert.

TopBraid includes pre-built SPIN templates for OWL 2 RL profile and for checking constraints defined in the SKOS standard for building taxonomies. Other data quality constraints libraries are becoming available from SPIN users.


[expand title=”How can I use standard reporting tools (e.g., JasperReports, BIRT, etc.) with TopBraid Live? “]

Information managed by TopBraid Live can be accessed through a SPARQL Endpoint RESTful web service or specific RESTful web services. Standard reporting applications, including Excel, have connectors for integration with web services interface.

JDBC connector can be used as well by utilizing Jena level 4 JDBC driver to transport SPARQL queries to TBL’s SPARQL Endpoint. With this, users can place SPARQL queries directly in the reporting tool and send them to the backend. While such approach is OK in simple cases, for more robust and scalable management of reports TopQuadrant recommends using specific web services interfaces and managing data services within TopBraid.

Additionally, TopBraid Live can produce serialized reports in a variety of formats (XML, CSV, etc) which can then be consumed by the reporting system.


[expand title=”How can I deploy may developed application to TopBraid Live server?”]

Application projects can be deployed to a Live server using ‘Export… > Deploy Project to TopBraid Live Server’ in TopBraid Composer or using Project Upload in the TopBraid Live administration console.



[expand title=”What operating systems is TopBraid Live available for? “]

TopBraid Live is available on Linux and Windows with Linux being the option we recommend most. For the most up to date information on supported platforms, consult the the Supported Platforms page.


[expand title=”What browsers are supported? Are there any browser plugins required? “]

TopBraid user interfaces are developed in a browser neutral way with pure HTML and JavaScript. No plugins are required.
For the most up to date information on supported platforms, consult the Supported Platforms page.


[expand title=”What are the software and systems pre-requisites? “]

At minimum, TopBraid Live requires J2EE web application server (Tomcat). For the most up to date information on supported platforms, consult the Supported Platforms page.
For hardware related questions see FAQ on the sizing calculator.


[expand title=”How does secure storage work? “]

Secure storage is used to store passwords to data back-end connections. Secure storage works by maintaining a mapping between base URIs of connector files and passwords required to connect to the back-end data store. When a connector is created, the password for the connector is encrypted and stored securely in secure storage. Whenever the connector is opened, via either a file open or owl:imports operation, the password is retrieved through secure storage before being sent to the data back-end server.

Secure storage passwords must be entered once per installation of TopBraid Live. The secure storage password serves as the master password that locks and unlocks the secure storage for applications, such as TBC and TBL, to read and write from.
The secure storage password is entered in the following way:

TopBraid Composer

When a connector file is created or a connector file is opened that does not have a secure storage password set up, the following dialog box will appear:


Click ‘Yes’ and enter a password. Password and secure storage can be maintained through Preferences > General > Security > secure storage.

TopBraid Live

When creating the Deployment Descriptor (web.xml) through the TopBraid Live wizard, as Described in TopBraid Live Installation, add a secure storage password in the ‘Master password’ part of the ‘Security Configuration’ section, as shown in the TopBraid Live Deployment Descriptor wizard.

Data connector passwords can be passed to TopBraid Live when deploying from Composer to Live via ‘Export… > Deploy Project to TBL server’ and choosing the ‘Send necessary connection credentials’ check box. Passwords will be decrypted and sent to the TBL server where it will be encrypted by the TBL secure storage password. Secure HTTP (https) is suggested for fully secure password storage.


[expand title=”How much memory should be allocated for running TopBraid Suite products? “]

The amount of memory allocated for any TopBraid product is highly dependent on the data. First, the amount of memory allocated to the application is dependent on the amount of memory allocated to the Java Heap. Second the amount of memory that needs to be allocated to the heap depends on size of the data. For example, if property values are large text strings, more heap space will be needed than if most of the properties values are either links to other resources (object properties) or relatively short text strings. The exact memory should be explored empirically for each data set, but the following table gives some conservative sizes for heap space:



[expand title=”Is there a sizing calculator? “]

Yes, a calculation spreadsheet is available to assist customers in planning hardware for their TopBraid Live installations.


[expand title=”Can TopBraid Live run in a cloud environment? “]

Yes. TopBraid Live can be integrated in a Cloud configuration.


[expand title=”What documentation is available for systems administrators? “]

Click on the link below to view TBL documentation including administration guide. You can access documentation for all of our products from this page.

Product Documentation


[expand title=”How do I include Error Log contents in an error report? “]

Use a link in the lower right of the TBL Administration console. Direct link is ../tbl/pages/sendErrorLog.