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Using ARQoid for Android-based SPARQL Query Execution

I was recently asked about the SPARQL support in Sparql Droid and whether it could serve as a way for other Android applications to execute SPARQL queries against remote data sources.  It could be used in this way but there is a simpler alternative I’d like to discuss here.

On the Android platform it is actually quite easy to execute SPARQL against remote SPARQL endpoints, RDF data and local models.  The heavy lifting is handled by Androjena’s ARQoid, an Android-centric port of HP’s Jena ARQ engine.

Both engines (the original and the port) do a great job of simplifying the execution of SPARQL queries and consumption of the resulting data.  In this post I’ll go through a simple example of using ARQoid.  Note that all the code being shown here is available for download.  This post is based specifically on the queryRemoteSparqlEndpoint() method in the com.monead.androjena.demo.arqoid.SparqlExamples class.


To begin, some environment setup needs to be done in order to have a properly configured Android project ready to use ARQoid.

First, obtain the ARQoid JAR and its dependencies.  This is easily accomplished using the download page on the ARQoid Wiki and obtaining the latest ARQoid ZIP file.  Unzip the downloaded archive.   Since I’m discussing an Android application I’d expect that you would have created an Android project and that it contains a libs directory where the JAR files should be placed.

Second, add the JAR files to the classpath for your Android project.  I use the ADT plugin for Eclipse to do Android development.  So to add the JARs to my project I choose the Project menu item, select Properties, choose Build Path, select the Libraries tab, click the Add JARs… button, navigate to the libs directory, select the JAR files and click OK on the open dialogs.

Third, setup a minimal Android project.  The default layout, with a small change to its definition will work fine.


Now we are ready to write the code that uses ARQoid to access some data.  For this first blog entry I’ll focus on a trivial query against a SPARQL endpoint.  There would be some small differences if we wanted to query a local model or a remote data set.  Those will be covered in follow-on entries.

Here is a list of the ARQoid classes we will be using for this initial example:

  • com.hp.hpl.jena.query.Query – represents the query being executed
  • com.hp.hpl.jena.query.Syntax – represents the query syntaxes supported by ARQoid
  • com.hp.hpl.jena.query.QueryFactory – creates a Query instance based on supplied parameters such as the query string and syntax definition
  • com.hp.hpl.jena.query.QueryExecution – provides the service to  execute the query
  • com.hp.hpl.jena.query.QueryExecutionFactory – creates a QueryExecution instance based on supplied parameters such as a Query instance and SPARQL endpoint URI
  • com.hp.hpl.jena.query.ResultSet – represents the returned data and metadata associated with the executed query
  • com.hp.hpl.jena.query.QuerySolution – represents one row of data within the ResultSet.

We’ll use these classes to execute a simple SPARQL query that retrieves some data associated with space exploration.  Talis provides an endpoint that we can use to access some interesting space exploration data.  The endpoint is located at http://api.talis.com/stores/space/services/sparql.
The query we will execute is:

SELECT ?dataType ?data
  <http://nasa.dataincubator.org/launch/1961-012> ?dataType ?data.

This query will give us a little information about Vostok 1 launched by the USSR in 1961.

Create the Query instance

We begin by creating the Query instance using the QueryFactory.

// Create a Query instance
Query query = QueryFactory.create(queryString, Syntax.syntaxARQ);

This code assumes that the query given earlier has been assigned to the String  variable queryString

Create the QueryExecution instance

We next create a QueryExecution using the QueryExecutionFactory.

// This query uses an external SPARQL endpoint for processing
// This is the syntax for that type of query
QueryExecution qe = QueryExecutionFactory.sparqlService(sparqlEndpointUri, query);

This code assumes that the Talis endpoint mentioned above has been assigned to the String variable sparqlEndpointUri.

Execute the query and obtain the ResultSet instance

We are now ready to actually execute the query and obtain the ResultSet instance.

// Execute the query and obtain results
ResultSet resultSet = qe.execSelect();

The resultSet variable now provides us access to the query results.

Retrieve the column names

A useful piece of metadata in the ResultSet instance is the list of column names.  These will be based on the information requested in the SELECT clause.  ARQoid can return them as a List<String>.

// Get the column names (the aliases supplied in the SELECT clause)
List<String> columnNames = resultSet.getResultVars();

The columnNames List will contain the aliases given in the SELECT clause.

Iterate through the resulting rows

We can now iterate through the resulting rows, asking for each row’s data which is represented as a QuerySolution instance.

// Iterate through all resulting rows
while (resultSet.hasNext()) {
  // Get the next result row
  QuerySolution solution = resultSet.next();

The solution variable will contain the current result row’s data.

Obtain the data for a row and column

To actually access the data you can request a specific column name from the QuerySolution instance.  However, you need to know whether the data is null, a literal value or a URI.  The following code performs the necessary tests and then prints the data to the standard output (in the downloadable code it will be presented on the Android device’s screen).

// Data value will be null if optional and not present
if (solution.get(var) == null) {
// Test whether the returned value is a literal value
} else if (solution.get(var).isLiteral()) {
  System.out.println (solution.getLiteral(var).toString());
// Otherwise the returned value is a URI
} else {

From the code, above, you can see that in order to access the basic data value you use the get(String) method which expects the column name to be passed.  This will return null if there is no data associated with this row and column.  If there is a value, the method isLiteral() may be called to test whether the data is a literal.  If it is not than it will likely be a URI.  The URI can be accessed by calling the getResource(String) method, passing the column name, and calling the getURI() method on that value.

Close the QueryExecution instance

The last step is important.  The QueryExecution instance should be cleaned up by calling its close() method.

// Important - free up resources used running the query

These are the basic steps you need to carry out in order to execute a SPARQL query against a SPARQL endpoint using ARQoid.  Here is a screen shot of the Android emulator executing the example just covered.

ARQoid demo running in the Android emulator example screenshot


A few other items for completeness.  First, remember to add the INTERNET permission to your Android manifest (<uses-permission android:name=”android.permission.INTERNET”/>).  Failure to do so will lead to an ARQoid failure when it tries to access the remote endpoint.  The stack trace will indicate a failure to access the URI – it won’t mention that there is a permission issue.

Also, depending on your query, you may be trying to access a lot of data which could be time consuming and also could cause issues with small memory devices.  You may limit the number of rows returned and set a starting row for the results.  This allows you to create a sliding window in your application by only pulling a few results and then allowing the user to ask for more.  These values are set on the Query instance.  Once you have the Query from the QueryFactory you can use these methods.

// Limit the number of results returned
// Setting the limit is optional - default is unlimited

// Set the starting record for results returned
// Setting the limit is optional - default is 1 (and it is 1-based)

The limit and offset given above would cause ARQoid to return 10 records, starting with the 11th one found. If there were fewer than 11 results then no records would be returned.


Hopefully if you are trying to use ARQoid this will give you a quick template to leverage the basic features of the engine.  In the future I’ll expand on this by adding other data sources as well as using the URIs returned by the query to create a richer result for the user.

Remember that you may download the sample code if you want to see the working Android demonstration application described here.  Also, you can install Sparql Droid which contains a variety of sample SPARQL queries that use the local model, SPARQL endpoints, RDF data sources as well as demonstrating federated queries.

If you have questions or comments about this topic please add them to this post or send them to me via my contact page.

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One Response to “Using ARQoid for Android-based SPARQL Query Execution”

  1. lara Says:

    Hello Sir,

    I m trying to develop a small app on android about semantic web using sparql, rdf data…..As I m looking some information how to use rdf data in android app. I just got your blog and got to learn lot , apart from android also…..

    I download your code….but failed to import it in eclipse….[:-(]…as I also didn’t find the library. Can you pls tell me how to import the downloaded code as It has given the error “No projects are found to import”

    Thanking You

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