Named Query

How can details of the SPARQL protocol be hidden from clients?


SPARQL protocol URLs quickly become complex when dealing with any non-trivial query. Very large queries can be so long that some clients or browsers may have issues with length of the URLs. The only solution in this case is to switch from a GET request to a POST request. But as a query is an idempotent operation it is better to use GET, with appropriate caching headers, rather than a POST.

In other circumstances a service might want to restrict the set of queries that can be invoked against a SPARQL endpoint. Or the use of SPARQL might be entirely hidden from calling clients. In both of those cases removal of direct access to the SPARQL endpoint may be desirable.


Assign a short URL to the SPARQL protocol request. The URL maps directly to a SPARQL query that is executed on request. Clients can use the short URL instead of the full SPARQL protocol request to extend the query.


An application exposes a SPARQL endpoint at and a collection of named queries from

One example query that clients might potentially execute is:

	SELECT ?uri ?homepage WHERE {
		?uri foaf:homepage ?homepage.

Rather than requiring clients to compose the full SPARQL protocol request for that URL it could instead be defined as a named query for the service. The query could be associated with the following URL: A GET request to that URL would be equivalent to the SPARQL protocol request to the endpoint, i.e. would execute the configured SPARQL query and return a response in one of the standard SPARQL protocol formats.


Named queries is useful in a number of circumstances. Assigning short URLs to queries can remove issues with dealing with lengthy SPARQL queries that might get accidentally truncated in emails or be rejected by older HTTP clients or browsers. By providing tools for users of a service to create new named queries then a community can share and publish a useful set of queries.

Another benefit of binding queries to URLs, i.e. by creating new web resources, a service can implement additional optimisations that can improve response time of queries. E.g. query results might be generated asynchronously and the cached results supplied to clients rather than the query being executed on demand.

One way to protect a SPARQL endpoint is to reduce the legal set of queries to an approved list, e.g. that won't cause performance issues for the service. Named queries provide a way to provide a set of legal queries which are then bound to URLs. Direct access to the SPARQL endpoint can then be disabled, or limited to a white-listed set of client applications.

There are some additional nuances to consider when implementing this pattern. For example the SPARQL protocol could be extended to support Parameterised queries by injecting query string parameters into the query before it is executed. Additional parameters could be used to invoke additional kinds of pre- or post-processing behaviour including transformation of SPARQL protocol responses into alternate formats


Further Reading