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Thomas Steiner

Thomas Steiner

Thomas Steiner is a proud dad-of-three, a Developer Advocate for the Web at Google Germany GmbH, Hamburg, Germany, and a former Postdoctoral Researcher at the Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Lyon, France. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain and two Master of Computer Science degrees, one from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany and the other from the École Nationale Supérieure d'Informatique et de Mathématiques Appliquées de Grenoble (ENSIMAG), France. His main research interests these days are Progressive Web Apps, the Semantic Web, Online Social Networks, Multimedia Semantics, Linked Data, and the architectural style REST. In addition to that, he works on making the Internet a better place, tweets as @tomayac, and blogs at blog.tomayac.com.
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    Preview abstract In this paper, I discuss arguments in favor and in disfavor of building for the Web. I look at three extraordinary examples of apps built for the Web, and analyze reasons their creators provided for doing so. In continuation, I look at the decline of interest in cross-platform app frameworks with the exception of Flutter, which leads me to the two research questions (i) "Why do people not fully bet on PWA" and (ii) "Why is Flutter so popular". My hypothesis for why developers don’t more frequently set on the Web is that in many cases they (or their non-technical reporting lines) don’t realize how powerful it has become. To counter that, I introduce a Web app and a browser extension that demonstrate the Web’s capabilities. View details
    Preview abstract In this demonstration, we show how special hardware like Nintendo Joy-Con controllers can be made accessible from the Web through the new WebHID API. This novel technology proposal allows developers to write Web drivers in pure JavaScript that talk to Human Interface Device (HID) devices via the HID protocol. One such example of a driver has been realized in the project Joy-Con-WebHID, which allows for fun pastimes like playing the Google Chrome browser's offline dinosaur game by jumping. This works thanks to the accelerometers built into Joy-Con controllers whose signals are read out by the driver and used to control the game character in the browser. A video of the experience is available. View details
    From Fugu With Love: New Capabilities for the Web
    Pete LePage
    Thomas Nattestad
    Rory McClelland‎
    Alex Russell
    Dominick Ng
    Companion Proceedings of the Web Conference 2020 (WWW ’20 Companion), April 20–24, 2020, Taipei, Taiwan., ACM, New York, NY, USA
    Preview abstract With this demo, we will show at the example of a greeting card web application how new and upcoming browser capabilities can progressively enhance this application so that it remains useful on all modern browsers, but delivers an advanced experience on browsers that support new web capabilities like native file system access, system clipboard access, contacts retrieval, periodic background sync, screen wake lock, web sharing features, and many more. View details
    Preview abstract Geolocation is arguably one of the most powerful capabilities of smartphones, and a lot of attention has been paid to native applications that make use of it. The discontinued Google Gears plugin was the first approach to access exact location data on the Web as well, apart from coarse location lookups based on Internet Protocol (IP) addresses; and the plugin led directly to the now widely implemented Geolocation API. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Geolocation API specification defines a standard for accessing location services in the browser via JavaScript. Since the intent to deprecate the use of powerful features over insecure connections and a general demand for increased user privacy, the Geolocation API now requires a secure origin to work. For a long time, developers have also demanded more advanced features like background geolocation tracking and geofencing. The W3C Geolocation and the Devices and Sensors Working Groups, as well as the Web Incubator Community Group (WICG), have addressed these demands with the no longer maintained Geofencing API specification for the former, and, with now (early 2019) resumed efforts, the in-flight Geolocation Sensors specification for the latter two groups. This paper first provides a quick overview of the historical development of geolocation in the browser, and then gives an outlook on current and future efforts, challenges, and use cases. View details
    Preview abstract Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are a new class of Web applications, enabled for the most part by the Service Workers APIs. Service Workers allow apps to work offline by intercepting network requests to deliver programmatic or cached responses, Service Workers can receive push notifications and synchronize data in the background even when the app is not running, and—together with Web App Manifests—allow users to install PWAs to their devices’ home screens. Service Workers being a Web standard, support has landed in several stand-alone Android Web browsers—among them (but not limited to) Chrome and its open-source foundation Chromium, Firefox, Edge, Opera, UC Browser, Samsung Internet, and—eagerly awaited—iOS Safari. In this paper, we examine the PWA feature support situation in Web Views, that is, in-app Web experiences that are explicitly not stand-alone browsers. Such in-app browsers can commonly be encountered in chat applications like WeChat or WhatsApp, online social networks like Facebook or Twitter, but also email clients like Gmail, or simply anywhere where Web content is displayed inside native apps. We have developed an open-source application called PWA Feature Detector that allows for easily testing in-app browsers (and naturally stand-alone browsers), and have evaluated the level of support for PWA features on different devices and Web Views. On the one hand, our results show that there are big differences between the various Web View technologies and the browser engines they are based upon, but on the other hand, that for Android the results are independent from the devices’ operating systems, which is good news given the problematic update policy of many device manufacturers. These findings help developers make educated choices when it comes to determining whether a PWA is the right approach given their target users’ means of Web access. View details
    Preview abstract In this paper, we introduce the Wikipedia Tools for Google Spreadsheets. Google Spreadsheets is part of a free, Web-based software office suite offered by Google within its Google Docs service. It allows users to create and edit spreadsheets online, while collaborating with other users in realtime. Wikipedia is a free-access, free-content Internet encyclopedia, whose content and data is available, among other means, through an API. With the Wikipedia Tools for Google Spreadsheets, we have created a toolkit that facilitates working with Wikipedia data from within a spreadsheet context. We make these tools available as open-source on GitHub [https://github.com/tomayac/wikipedia-tools-for-google-spreadsheets], released under the permissive Apache 2.0 license. View details
    From Freebase to Wikidata: The Great Migration
    Thomas Pellissier Tanon
    Denny Vrandečić
    Lydia Pintscher
    World Wide Web Conference, ACM (2016)
    Preview abstract Collaborative knowledge bases that make their data freely available in a machine-readable form are central for the data strategy of many projects and organizations. The two major collaborative knowledge bases are Wikimedia’s Wikidata and Google’s Freebase. Due to the success of Wikidata, Google decided in 2014 to offer the content of Freebase to the Wikidata community. In this paper, we report on the ongoing transfer efforts and data mapping challenges, and provide an analysis of the effort so far. We describe the Primary Sources Tool, which aims to facilitate this and future data migrations. Throughout the migration, we have gained deep insights into both Wikidata and Freebase, and share and discuss detailed statistics on both knowledge bases. View details
    Preview abstract A video quality module receives data indicating a visibility status of a tab of a web browser running on a user device. The video quality module determines, based on the data indicating the visibility status of the tab whether the tab of the web browser is currently visible to a user of the user device, the tab of the web browser comprising a streaming media player. If the tab of the web browser is not currently visible to the user, the video quality module decreases a quality of a video component of a streaming media file playing in the streaming media player. View details
    AdAlyze Redux: Post-Click and Post-Conversion Text Feature Attribution for Sponsored Search Ads
    WWW '15 Companion Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on World Wide Web, ACM (2015)
    Preview abstract In this paper, we present our ongoing research on an ads quality testing tool that we call AdAlyze Redux. This tool allows advertisers to get individual best practice recommendations based on an expandable set of textual ads features, tailored to exactly the ads in an advertiser's set of accounts. This lets them optimize their ad copies against the common online advertising key performance indicators clickthrough rate and, if available, conversion rate. We choose the Web as the tool's platform and automatically generate the analyses as platform-independent HTML5 slides and full reports. View details
    Capturing the functionality of Web services with functional descriptions
    Ruben Verborgh
    Davy Van Deursen
    Jos De Roo
    Rik Van de Walle
    Joaquim Gabarró Vallés
    Multimedia Tools Appl., vol. 64 (2013), pp. 365-387
    Preview
    Live topic generation from event streams
    Vuk Milicic
    Giuseppe Rizzo 0002
    José Luis Redondo García
    Raphaël Troncy
    WWW (Companion Volume) (2013), pp. 285-288
    Preview
    To crop, or not to crop: compiling online media galleries
    Christopher Chedeau
    WWW (Companion Volume) (2013), pp. 201-202
    Preview
    Distributed affordance: an open-world assumption for hypermedia
    Ruben Verborgh
    Michael Hausenblas
    Erik Mannens
    Rik Van de Walle
    WWW (Companion Volume) (2013), pp. 1399-1406
    Preview
    I-SEARCH: a multimodal search engine based on rich unified content description (RUCoD)
    Lorenzo Sutton
    Sabine Spiller
    Marilena Lazzaro
    Francesco Nucci
    Vincenzo Croce
    Alberto Massari
    Antonio Camurri
    Anne Verroust-Blondet
    Laurent Joyeux
    Jonas Etzold
    Paul Grimm
    Athanasios Mademlis
    Sotiris Malassiotis
    Petros Daras
    Apostolos Axenopoulos
    Dimitrios Tzovaras
    Proceedings of the 21st international conference companion on World Wide Web, ACM, New York, NY, USA (2012), pp. 291-294
    Preview
    A Social Description Revolution - Describing Web APIs' Social Parameters with RESTdesc
    Ruben Verborgh
    Joaquim Gabarró
    Erik Mannens
    Rik Van de Walle
    AAAI Spring Symposium: Intelligent Web Services Meet Social Computing (2012)
    Preview
    Context-aware querying for multimodal search engines
    Jonas Etzold
    Arnaud Brousseau
    Paul Grimm
    Proceedings of the 18th international conference on Advances in Multimedia Modeling, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg (2012), pp. 728-739
    Preview
    Crowdsourcing Event Detection in YouTube Videos
    Ruben Verborgh
    Rik Van de Walle
    Michael Hausenblas
    Joaquim Gabarro
    Detection, Representation, and Exploitation of Events in the Semantic Web (DeRiVE 2011), Bonn, Germany
    Preview abstract Considerable efforts have been put into making video content on the Web more accessible, searchable, and navigable by research on both textual and visual analysis of the actual video content and the accompanying metadata. Nevertheless, most of the time, videos are opaque objects in websites. With Web browsers gaining more support for the HTML5 <video> element, videos are becoming first class citizens on the Web. In this paper we show how events can be detected on-the-fly through crowdsourcing (i) textual, (ii) visual, and (iii) behavioral analysis in YouTube videos, at scale. The main contribution of this paper is a generic crowdsourcing framework for automatic and scalable semantic annotations of HTML5 videos. Eventually, we discuss our preliminary results using traditional server-based approaches to video event detection as a baseline. View details
    Efficient Runtime Service Discovery and Consumption with Hyperlinked RESTdesc
    Ruben Verborgh
    Davy Van Deursen
    Rik Van de Walle
    Joaquim Gabarro
    The 7th International Conference on Next Generation Web Services Practices (NWeSP 2011), Salamanca, Spain
    Preview abstract Hyperlinks and forms let humans navigate with ease through websites they have never seen before. In contrast, automated agents can only perform preprogrammed actions on Web services, reducing their generality and restricting their usefulness to a specialized domain. Many of the employed services call themselves RESTful, although they neglect the hypermedia constraint as defined by Roy T. Fielding, stating that the application state should be driven by hypertext. This lack of link usage on the Web of services severely limits agents in what they can do, while connectedness forms a primary feature of the human Web. An urgent need for more intelligent agents becomes apparent, and in this paper, we demonstrate how the conjunction of functional service descriptions and hypermedia links leads to advanced, interactive agent behavior. We propose a new mode for our previously introduced semantic service description format RESTdesc, providing the mechanisms for agents to consume Web services based on links, similar to human browsing strategies. We illustrate the potential of these descriptions by a use case that shows the enhanced capabilities they offer to automated agents, and explain how this is vital for the future Web. View details
    Adding Meaning to Facebook Microposts via a Mash-up API and Tracking Its Data Provenance
    Ruben Verborgh
    Joaquim Gabarro
    Rik Van de Walle
    The 7th International Conference on Next Generation Web Services Practices (NWeSP 2011)
    Preview abstract The social networking website Facebook offers to its users a feature called “status updates” (or just “status”), which allows users to create microposts directed to all their contacts, or a subset thereof. Readers can respond to microposts, or in addition to that also click a “Like” button to show their appreciation for a certain micropost. Adding semantic meaning in the sense of unambiguous intended ideas to such microposts can, for example, be achieved via Natural Language Processing (NLP). Therefore, we have implemented a RESTful mash-up NLP API, which is based on a combination of several third party NLP APIs in order to retrieve more accurate results in the sense of emergence. In consequence, our API uses third party APIs opaquely in the background in order to deliver its output. In this paper, we describe how one can keep track of provenance, and credit back the contributions of each single API to the combined result of all APIs. In addition to that, we show how the existence of provenance metadata can help understand the way a combined result is formed, and optimize the result combination process. Therefore, we use the HTTP Vocabulary in RDF and the Provenance Vocabulary. The main contribution of our work is a description of how provenance metadata can be automatically added to the output of mash-up APIs like the one presented here. View details
    Preview abstract Mobile devices like smartphones together with social networks enable people to generate, share, and consume enormous amounts of media content. Common search operations, for example searching for a music clip based on artist name and song title on video platforms such as YouTube, can be achieved both based on potentially shallow human-generated metadata, or based on more profound content analysis, driven by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) or Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR). However, more advanced use cases, such as summaries or compilations of several pieces of media content covering a certain event, are hard, if not impossible to fulfill at large scale. One example of such event can be a keynote speech held at a conference, where, given a stable network connection, media content is published on social networks while the event is still going on. In our thesis, we develop a framework for media content processing, leveraging social networks, utilizing the Web of Data and fine-grained media content addressing schemes like Media Fragments URIs to provide a scalable and sophisticated solution to realize the above use cases: media content summaries and compilations. We evaluate our approach on the entity level against social media platform APIs in conjunction with Linked (Open) Data sources, comparing the current manual approaches against our semi-automated approach. Our proposed framework can be used as an extension for existing video platforms. View details
    Fulfilling the Hypermedia Constraint Via HTTP OPTIONS, the HTTP Vocabulary In RDF, and Link Headers
    Jan Algermissen
    Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on RESTful Design, ACM, New York, NY, USA (2011), pp. 11-14
    Preview abstract One of the main REST design principles is the focus on media types as the core of contracts on the Web. However, not always is the service designer free to select the most appropriate media type for a task, sometimes a generic media type like application/rdf+xml (or in the worst case a binary format like image/png) with no defined or possible hypermedia controls at all has to be chosen. With this position paper we present a way how the hypermedia constraint of REST can still be fulfilled using a combination of Link headers, the OPTIONS method, and the HTTP Vocabulary in RDF. View details
    A Tweet Consumers' Look At Twitter Trends
    Arnaud Brousseau
    Raphael Troncy
    Workshop Making Sense of Microposts (MSM 2011) at the Extended Semantic Web Conference (ESWC 2011), Heraklion, Crete
    Preview abstract Twitter Trends allows for a global or local view on “what’s happening in my world right now” from a tweet producers’ point of view. In this paper, we explore a way to complete Twitter Trends by having a closer look at the other side: the tweet consumers’ point of view. While Twitter Trends works by analyzing the frequency of terms and their velocity of appearance in tweets being written, our approach is based on the popularity of extracted named entities in tweets being read. View details
    How Google is using Linked Data Today and Vision For Tomorrow
    Raphael Troncy
    Michael Hausenblas
    Proceedings of Linked Data in the Future Internet at the Future Internet Assembly (FIA 2010), Ghent, December 2010
    Preview abstract In this position paper, we first discuss how modern search engines, such as Google, make use of Linked Data spread in Web pages for displaying Rich Snippets. We present an example of the technology and we analyze its current uptake. We then sketch some ideas on how Rich Snippets could be extended in the future, in particular for multimedia documents. We outline bottlenecks in the current Internet architecture that require fixing in order to enable our vision to work at Web scale. View details
    Preview abstract SemWebVid is an online Ajax application that allows for the automatic generation of Resource Description Framework (RDF) video descriptions. These descriptions are based on two pillars: first, on a combination of user-generated metadata such as title, summary, and tags; and second, on closed captions which can be user-generated, or be auto-generated via speech recognition. The plaintext contents of both pillars are being analyzed using multiple Natural Language Processing (NLP) Web services in parallel whose results are then merged and where possible matched back to concepts in the sense of Linking Open Data (LOD). The final result is a deep-linkable RDF description of the video, and a “scroll-along” view of the video as an example of video visualization formats. View details
    Preview abstract SemWebVid is an online Ajax application that allows for the automatic generation of Resource Description Framework (RDF) video descriptions. These descriptions are based on two pillars: first, on a combination of user-generated metadata such as title, summary, and tags; and second, on closed captions which can be user-generated, or be auto-generated via speech recognition. The plaintext contents of both pillars are being analyzed using multiple Natural Language Processing (NLP) Web services in parallel whose results are then merged and where possible matched back to concepts in the sense of Linking Open Data (LOD). The final result is a deep-linkable RDF description of the video, and a “scroll-along” view of the video as an example of video visualization formats. View details
    I-SEARCH: A Unified Framework for Multimodal Search and Retrieval
    Apostolos Axenopoulos
    Petros Daras
    Sotiris Malassiotis
    Vincenzo Croce
    Marilena Lazzaro
    Jonas Etzold
    Paul Grimm
    Alberto Massari
    Antonio Camurri
    Dimitrios Tzovaras
    Future Internet Assembly (2012), pp. 130-141
    Defining aesthetic principles for automatic media gallery layout for visual and audial event summarization based on social networks
    Ruben Verborgh
    Joaquim Gabarró
    Rik Van de Walle
    QoMEX (2012), pp. 27-28
    Adding Realtime Coverage to the Google Knowledge Graph
    Ruben Verborgh
    Raphaël Troncy
    Joaquim Gabarró
    Rik Van de Walle
    International Semantic Web Conference (Posters & Demos) (2012)
    One size does not fit all: multimodal search on mobile and desktop devices with the I-SEARCH search engine
    Marilena Lazzaro
    Francesco Saverio Nucci
    Vincenzo Croce
    Lorenzo Sutton
    Alberto Massari
    Antonio Camurri
    Sabine Spiller
    Anne Verroust-Blondet
    Laurent Joyeux
    ICMR (2012), pp. 58
    Functional Composition of Sensor Web APIs
    Ruben Verborgh
    Vincent Haerinck
    Davy Van Deursen
    Sofie Van Hoecke
    Jos De Roo
    Rik Van de Walle
    Joaquim Gabarró
    SSN (2012), pp. 65-80
    Functional descriptions as the bridge between hypermedia APIs and the Semantic Web
    Ruben Verborgh
    Davy Van Deursen
    Sam Coppens
    Joaquim Gabarró Vallés
    Rik Van de Walle
    WS-REST (2012), pp. 33-40
    Introducing a unified framework for content object description
    Petros Daras
    Apostolos Axenopoulos
    Vasilios Darlagiannis
    Dimitrios Tzovaras
    Xavier Le Bourdon
    Laurent Joyeux
    Anne Verroust-Blondet
    Vincenzo Croce
    Alberto Massari
    Antonio Camurri
    Steeve Morin
    Amar-Djalil Mezaour
    Lorenzo Sutton
    Sabine Spiller
    IJMIS, vol. 2 (2011), pp. 351-375