Posted:November 9, 2011

UMBEL Services, Part 3: Concept Browser

UMBEL Vocabulary and Reference Concept OntologyThe OSF Browser is Now More Configurable

This continues our series on the new UMBEL portal. UMBEL, the Upper Mapping and Binding Exchange Layer, is an upper ontology of about 28,000 reference concepts and a vocabulary designed for domain ontologies and ontology mapping [1]. This part three deals with the portal’s navigational tool, the concept or relation browser [2]. It is a favorite component of the open semantic framework (OSF).

Discovery and navigation in a graph structure — as is the basis of ontologies and the UMBEL structure — can be difficult. It is made even more difficult when the number of concepts in the object space is large. With 28,000 concepts, UMBEL is one of the largest public ontologies extant. The relation browser is designed specifically to address these difficulties.

The concept browser in UMBEL is invoked via the main menu option or by clicking on the browser icon [] shown in conjuction with a given concept. Here is an example for the concept ‘tractor’:

Note in this case that the More details … link brings you to a detailed concept view, as was covered in the previous part in this series.

With its extreme configurability and flexibility — see further below — the relation browser can be an essential foundation to an open semantic framework installation. But, the best part about the relation browser is that it is fun to use. Clicking bubbles and dynamically moving through the graph structure is like snorkeling through a massive school of silvery fish.

Origins of the Relation Browser

We have been featuring the relation browser since April 2008 when the first UMBEL sandbox was released:

The relation browser is the innovation of Moritz Stefaner, one of the best data and information visualization gurus around. He continues to innovate in large-scale information spaces, and is a frequent speaker at information visualization conferences. Moritz’s Web site and separate blog are each worth perusing for neat graphics and ideas.

Configurability

Since our first efforts with the browser, we have worked to extend its applicability and configurability. The relation browser can be downloaded separately from our semantic components code distribution site.

The relation browser is configured via an XML specification file. Separate specifications are available for the nodes (classes or concept) and connecting edges (predicates or properties). Here are the current configuration options:

NODE PARAMETERS
label
label is the label assigned to a given node; by default, the end of the URI of the type will be used as the label
displayNodeLabela Boolean value whether to display or hide a label for a specific node
tooltipsthe tooltip to be displayed when mousing over a specific node
textFontdefines the font of the text label on the node; for example: “Verdana”
textColordefines the color of the text label on the node; value in RGB hex format
textSizedefines the size of the text to display in the node
image
a URL to an image to use to display at the position of the node
shapea shape of the node to display; available values are “circle”, “block”, “polygon”, “square”, “cross”, “X”, “triangleUp”, “triangleDown”,
“triangleLeft”, “triangleRight”, “diamond”
lineWeightdefines the size of the line of the border for the node’s shape
lineColordefines the color of the line of the border for the node’s shape; value in RGB hex format
fillColordefines the color to use within the shape for the node; value in RGB hex format
radius
defines the radius of the node. The radius is an invisible boundary where the edges get attached
backgroundScaleFactorscale factor for the node’s shape background; a scale factor of 1.25 means that it is 125% normal size
textScaleFactorscale factor of the node’s text label
textOffsetXX Offset where to start displaying the text within the node’s shape
textOffsetYY Offset where to start displaying the text within the node’s shape
textMultilinesmulti-lines means that each word of a label is displayed on a single line
textMaxWidthmaximum width of the text; if longer, then it is truncated with an ellipsis (“…”) appended
textMaxHeightmaximum height of the text; if higher, then it is truncated with an ellipsis (“…”) appended
selectedNodeColorOverlaydefines a color to overlay on the center (selected) node of the graph; it is defined by a series of 4 different offsets [alpha, red, green, blue] ranging from -255 to 255 in relation to the base node’s values; can, for example, to make the central node of the graph brighter
overNodeColorOverlaydefines a color to overlay on a moused over node of the graph; it is defined by a series of 4 different offsets [alpha, red, green, blue] ranging from -255 to 255 in relation to the base node’s values; can, for example, to make a moused over node of the graph brighter
EDGE PARAMETERS
displayLabelthe label to display over the center of the edge
tooltipLabelthe tooltip to be displayed when mousing over a specific edge
directedArrowHeaddefines the type of the arrow for the edge; available values are “none”, “triangle”, “lines”
textFontdefines the font of the text label on the edge
textColordefined the color of the text label on the edge; value in RGB hex format
textSizedefines the size of the text to display on the edge
imagea URL to an image to use to display over the edge at middle of the two connected nodes
lineWeightdefines the size of the line for the edge connector
lineColordefines the color of the line for the edge connector; value in RGB hex format

 

It is also possible to specify a breadcrumb in association with the browser.

Besides these configurations, the API for the relation browser also provides for methods to:

  • Link Nodes to Objects
  • Link Nodes to Displays

Via these mechanisms, the relation browser can become a central focal point for any OSF installation. See further the specifications for additional ideas and tips.

Some Other Examples

Here are some other examples of relation browsers you can see across the Web:

UMBEL small logo

This is the third of a multi-part series on the newly updated UMBEL services. Other articles in this series are:


[1] See further the general Wikipedia description of UMBEL or its specification on the official UMBEL Web site.
[2] Various clients and users have named this widget a number of things, including spider, concept explorer, relation browser and concept browser.

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headline:
UMBEL Services, Part 3: Concept Browser

alternativeHeadline:
The OSF Browser is Now More Configurable

author:

image:
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description:
With its extreme configurability and flexibility, the relation browser can be an essential foundation to an open semantic framework installation. But, the best part about the relation browser is that it is fun to use. Clicking bubbles and dynamically moving through the graph structure is like snorkeling through a massive school of silvery fish

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