ProvToolbox Tutorial 2: Reading, Converting and Saving PROV Documents

1. Introduction

Building on the first ProvToolbox tutorial, the aim of this second tutorial is to show how to read a PROV document using ProvToolbox and export it to some format.

We assume that installation instructions as described in the first Tutorial have been followed. Details about the Maven configuration can also be found there.

2. Download and Execution

The tutorial is standalone and a zip archive can be downloaded from the following URL: The tutorial can also be found on the ProvToolbox project on GitHub.

After unziping the archive, we can execute the tutorial, by calling:

mvn clean install

Beside the verbose logging by the Maven build process, the tutorial itself displays the following text, including some PROV expressed according to PROV-XML.

* Converting document  

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>
<prov:document xmlns:prov="" xmlns:xsi="" xmlns:xsd="" xmlns:foaf="" xmlns:provbook="" xmlns:jim="">
    <prov:entity prov:id="provbook:a-little-provenance-goes-a-long-way">
        <prov:value xsi:type="xsd:string">A little provenance goes a long way</prov:value>
    <prov:agent prov:id="provbook:Paul">
        <foaf:name xsi:type="xsd:string">Paul Groth</foaf:name>
    <prov:agent prov:id="provbook:Luc">
        <foaf:name xsi:type="xsd:string">Luc Moreau</foaf:name>
        <prov:entity prov:ref="provbook:a-little-provenance-goes-a-long-way"/>
        <prov:agent prov:ref="provbook:Paul"/>
        <prov:entity prov:ref="provbook:a-little-provenance-goes-a-long-way"/>
        <prov:agent prov:ref="provbook:Luc"/>
    <prov:entity prov:id="jim:LittleSemanticsWeb.html"/>
        <prov:generatedEntity prov:ref="provbook:a-little-provenance-goes-a-long-way"/>
        <prov:usedEntity prov:ref="jim:LittleSemanticsWeb.html"/>


3. Reading and writing PROV documents in Java

The following Java snippet is extracted from the file src/main/java/org/openprovenance/prov/tutorial/tutorial2/ In line 3, it shows how a document can be read, given its path filein on the file system. In line 4, we see how a PROV Document can be saved into a file fileout. The writeDocument procedure determines the PROV format that is required by looking at the extension. If a non-standard extension is used, then the format can be specified explicitly, as in line 5, by one of the values of the enumerated type ProvFormat.

    public void doConversions(String filein, String fileout) {
        InteropFramework intF=new InteropFramework();
        Document document=intF.readDocumentFromFile(filein);
        intF.writeDocument(fileout, document);     
        intF.writeDocument(System.out, ProvFormat.XML, document);

   public static void main(String [] args) {
        if (args.length!=2) throw new UnsupportedOperationException("main to be called with two filenames");
        String filein=args[0];
        String fileout=args[1];
        ReadWrite tutorial=new ReadWrite(InteropFramework.newXMLProvFactory());
        tutorial.doConversions(filein, fileout);

For completion, line 13 shows how the tutorial class is initialized and line 15 takes care of invoking the conversion functionality.

The tutorial is called from the command line, passing src/main/resources/a-little.provn as the input file, and target/a-little.svg as the output file.  Therefore, the a-little.provn file is converted to SVG (by line 4) and to XML on standard output (by line 5).

The following table lists the formats that are supported by ProvToolbox.

gv text/vnd.graphviz output
dot text/vnd.graphviz output
prov-asn text/provenance-notation input
prov-asn text/provenance-notation output
pn text/provenance-notation input
pn text/provenance-notation output
asn text/provenance-notation input
asn text/provenance-notation output
provn text/provenance-notation input
provn text/provenance-notation output
rdf application/rdf+xml input
rdf application/rdf+xml output
json application/json input
json application/json output
ttl text/turtle input
ttl text/turtle output
trig application/trig input
trig application/trig output
jpeg image/jpeg output
jpg image/jpeg output
provx application/provenance+xml input
provx application/provenance+xml output
xml application/provenance+xml input
xml application/provenance+xml output
png image/png output
pdf application/pdf output
svg image/svg+xml output

4. Conclusion

For further documentation on the classes and methods used, Javadoc for ProvToolbox can be found from  The Javadoc documentation also refers to PROV specifications where appropriate.

Suggestions for tutorials and also for ways of improving the programming experience offered by ProvToolbox are always welcome. Please raise issues on GitHub issue tracker.

5. Appendix. Log Change

  1. Original version submitted on 2015/06/30
  2. Updated to 0.7.0 on 2015/07/27

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