Posted:January 26, 2010

AI3's Ontologies category
140 Tools: 20 Must Haves, 70 Possible Usefuls, and 50 Has Beens and Marginals

Well, for another client and another purpose, I was goaded into screening my Sweet Tools listing of semantic Web and -related tools and to assemble stuff from every other nook and cranny I could find. The net result is this enclosed listing of some 140 or so tools — most open source — related to semantic Web ontology building in one way or another.

Ever since I wrote my Intrepid Guide to Ontologies nearly three years ago (and one of the more popular articles of this site, though it is now perhaps a bit long in the tooth), I have been intrigued with how these semantic structures are built and maintained. That interest, in no small measure, is why I continue to maintain the Sweet Tools listing.

As far as I know, the following is the largest and most comprehensive listing of ontology building tools available. I broadly interpret the classification of ‘ontology building’; I include, for example, vocabulary extraction and prompting tools, as well as ontology visualization and mapping.

There are some 140 tools, perhaps 90 or so are still in active use. (Given the scope, not every tool could be inspected in detail. Some listed as being perhaps inactive may not be so, and others not in that category perhaps should be.) Of the entire roster of tools, somewhere on the order of 12 to 20 are quite impressive and deserving of local installation, test runs, and close inspection.

There are relatively few tools useful to non-specialists (or useful to engaging knowledgeable publics in the ontology-building exercise). There appear to be key gaps in the entire workflow from domain scoping and initial ontology definition and vocabulary candidates, to longer-term maintenance and revision. For example, spreadsheets would appear to be a possible useful first step in any workflow process (which is why irON is listed), but the spreadsheet tool per se is not listed herein (nor are text editors).

I surely have missed some tools and likely improperly assigned others. Please drop me an email or comment on this post with any revisions or suggestions.

Some Worth A Closer Look

In my own view, there are some tools that definitely deserve a closer look. My favorite candidates — for very different reasons and for very different places in the workflow — are (in no particular order): Apelon DTS, irON, FlexViz, Knoodl, Protégé, diagramic.com, BooWa, COE, ontopia, Anzo, PoolParty, Vine (and voc2rdf), Erca, Graphl, and GrOWL. Each one of these links is more fully described below. Also, all tools in the Vocabulary Prompting Tools category (which also includes extraction) are worth reviewing since all or nearly all have online demos.

Other tools may also be deserving, depending on use case. Some of the more specific analysis and conversion tools, for example, are in the Miscellaneous category.

Also, some purists may quibble with why some tools are listed here (such as inclusion of some stuff related to Topic Maps). Well, my answer to that is there are no real complete solutions, and whatever we can pragmatically do today requires glueing together many disparate parts.

Comprehensive Ontology Tools

  • Altova SemanticWorks is a visual RDF and OWL editor that auto-generates RDF/XML or nTriples based on visual ontology design. No open source version available
  • Amine is a rather comprehensive, open source platform for the development of intelligent and multi-agent systems written in Java. As one of its components, it has an ontology GUI with text- and tree-based editing modes, with some graph visualization
  • The Apelon DTS (Distributed Terminology System) is an integrated set of open source components that provides comprehensive terminology services in distributed application environments. DTS supports national and international data standards, which are a necessary foundation for comparable and interoperable health information, as well as local vocabularies. Typical applications for DTS include clinical data entry, administrative review, problem-list and code-set management, guideline creation, decision support and information retrieval.. Though not strictly an ontology management system, Apelon DTS has plug-ins that provide visualization of concept graphs and related functionality that make it close to a complete solution
  • DOME is a programmable XML editor which is being used in a knowledge extraction role to transform Web pages into RDF, and available as Eclipse plug-ins. DOME stands for DERI Ontology Management Environment
  • FlexViz is a Flex-based, Protégé-like client-side ontology creation, management and viewing tool; very impressive. The code is distributed from Sourceforge; there is a nice online demo available; there is a nice explanatory paper on the system, and the developer, Chris Callendar, has a useful blog with Flex development tips
  • Knoodl facilitates community-oriented development of OWL based ontologies and RDF knowledge bases. It also serves as a semantic technology platform, offering a Java service-based interface or a SPARQL-based interface so that communities can build their own semantic applications using their ontologies and knowledgebases. It is hosted in the Amazon EC2 cloud and is available for free; private versions may also be obtained. See especially the screencast for a quick introduction
  • The NeOn toolkit is a state-of-the-art, open source multi-platform ontology engineering environment, which provides comprehensive support for the ontology engineering life-cycle. The v2.3.0 toolkit is based on the Eclipse platform, a leading development environment, and provides an extensive set of plug-ins covering a variety of ontology engineering activities. You can add these plug-ins or get a current listing from the built-in updating mechanism
  • ontopia is a relative complete suite of tools for building, maintaining, and deploying Topic Maps-based applications; open source, and written in Java. Could not find online demos, but there are screenshots and there is visualization of topic relationships
  • Protégé is a free, open source visual ontology editor and knowledge-base framework. The Protégé platform supports two main ways of modeling ontologies via the Protégé-Frames and Protégé-OWL editors. Protégé ontologies can be exported into a variety of formats including RDF(S), OWL, and XML Schema. There are a large number of third-party plugins that extends the platform’s functionality
    • Protégé Plugin Library – frequently consult this page to review new additions to the Protégé editor; presently there are dozens of specific plugins, most related to the semantic Web and most open source
    • Collaborative Protégé is a plug-in extension of the existing Protégé system that supports collaborative ontology editing as well as annotation of both ontology components and ontology changes. In addition to the common ontology editing operations, it enables annotation of both ontology components and ontology changes. It supports the searching and filtering of user annotations, also known as notes, based on different criteria. There is also an online demo
  • TopBraid Composer is an enterprise-class modeling environment for developing Semantic Web ontologies and building semantic applications. Fully compliant with W3C standards, Composer offers comprehensive support for developing, managing and testing configurations of knowledge models and their instance knowledge bases. It is based on the Eclipse IDE. There is a free version (after registration) for small ontologies.

Not Apparently in Active Use

  • Adaptiva is a user-centred ontology building environment, based on using multiple strategies to construct an ontology, minimising user input by using adaptive information extraction
  • Exteca is an ontology-based technology written in Java for high-quality knowledge management and document categorisation, including entity extraction. Though code is still available, no updates have been provided since 2006. It can be used in conjunction with search engines
  • IODT is IBM’s toolkit for ontology-driven development. The toolkit includes EMF Ontolgy Definition Metamodel (EODM), EODM workbench, and an OWL Ontology Repository (named Minerva)
  • KAON is an open-source ontology management infrastructure targeted for business applications. It includes a comprehensive tool suite allowing easy ontology creation and management and provides a framework for building ontology-based applications. An important focus of KAON is scalable and efficient reasoning with ontologies
  • Ontolingua provides a distributed collaborative environment to browse, create, edit, modify, and use ontologies. The server supports over 150 active users, some of whom have provided us with descriptions of their projects. Provided as an online service; software availability not known.

Vocabulary Prompting Tools

  • AlchemyAPI from Orchestr8 provides an API based application that uses statistical and natural language processing methods. Applicable to webpages, text files and any input text in several languages
  • BooWa is a set expander for any language (formerly known as SEALS); developed by RC Wang of Carnegie Mellon
  • Google Keywords allows you to enter a few descriptive words or phrases or a site URL to generate keyword ideas
  • Google Sets for automatically creating sets of items from a few examples
  • Open Calais is free limited API web service to automatically attach semantic metadata to content, based on either entities (people, places, organizations, etc.), facts (person ‘x’ works for company ‘y’), or events (person ‘z’ was appointed chairman of company ‘y’ on date ‘x’). The metadata results are stored centrally and returned to you as industry-standard RDF constructs accompanied by a Globally Unique Identifier (GUID)
  • Query-by-document from BlogScope has a nice phrase extraction service, with a choice of ranking methods. Can also be used in a Firefox plug-in (not texted with 3.5+)
  • SemanticHacker (from Textwise) is an API that does a number of different things, including categorization, search, etc. By using ‘concept tags’, the API can be leveraged to generate metadata or tags for content
  • TagFinder is a Web service that automatically extracts tags from a piece of text. The tags are chosen based on both statistical and linguistic analysis of the original text
  • Tagthe.net has a demo and an API for automatic tagging of web documents and texts. Tags can be single words only. The tool also recognizes named entities such as people names and locations
  • TermExtractor extracts terminology consensually referred in a specific application domain. The software takes as input a corpus of domain documents, parses the documents, and extracts a list of “syntactically plausible” terms (e.g. compounds, adjective-nouns, etc.)
  • TermFinder uses Poisson statistics, the Maximum Likelihood Estimation and Inverse Document Frequency between the frequency of words in a given document and a generic corpus of 100 million words per language; available for English, French and Italian
  • TerMine is an online and batch term extractor that emphasizes part of speech (POS) and n-gram (phrase extraction). TerMine is the terminological management system with the C-Value term extraction and AcroMine acronym recognition integrated
  • Topia term extractor is a part-of-speech and frequency based term extraction tool implemented in python. Here is a term extraction demo based on this tool
  • Topicalizer is a service which automatically analyses a document specified by a URL or a plain text regarding its word, phrase and text structure. It provides a variety of useful information on a given text including the following: Word, sentence and paragraph count, collocations, syllable structure, lexical density, keywords, readability and a short abstract on what the given text is about
  • TrMExtractor does glossary extraction on pure text files for either English or Hungarian
  • Wikify! is a system to automatically “wikify” a text by adding Wikipedia-like tags throughout the document. The system extracts keywords and then disambiguates and matches them to their corresponding Wikipedia definition
  • Yahoo! Placemaker is a freely available geoparsing Web service. It helps developers make their applications location-aware by identifying places in unstructured and atomic content – feeds, web pages, news, status updates – and returning geographic metadata for geographic indexing and markup
  • Yahoo! Term Extraction Service is an API to Yahoo’s term extraction service, as well as many other APIs and services in a variety of languages and for a variety of tasks; good general resource. The service has been reported to be shut down numerous times, but apparently is kept alive due to popular demand.

Initial Ontology Development

  • COE COE (CmapTools Ontology Editor) is a specialized version of the CmapTools from IMHC. COE — and its CmapTools parent — is based on the idea of concept maps. A concept map is a graph diagram that shows the relationships among concepts. Concepts are connected with labeled arrows, with the relations manifesting in a downward-branching hierarchical structure. COE is an integrated suite of software tools for constructing, sharing and viewing OWL encoded ontologies based on these constructs
  • Conzilla2 is a second generation concept browser and knowledge management tool with many purposes. It can be used as a visual designer and manager of RDF classes and ontologies, since its native storage is in RDF. It also has an online collaboration server
  • http://diagramic.com/ has an online Flex network graph demo, which also has a neat facility for quick entry and visualization of relationships; mostly small scale; pretty cool. Does not appear to be code available anywhere
  • DogmaModeler is a free and open source, ontology modeling tool based on ORM. The philosophy of DogmaModeler is to enable non-IT experts to model ontologies with a little or no involvement of an ontology engineer; project is quite old, but the software is still available and it may provide some insight into naive ontology development
  • Erca is a framework that eases the use of Formal and Relational Concept Analysis, a neat clustering technique. Though not strictly an ontology tool, Erca could be implemented in a work flow that allows easy import of formal contexts from CSV files, then algorithms that computes the concept lattice of the formal contexts that can be exported as dot graphs (or in JPG, PNG, EPS and SVG formats). Erca is provided as an Eclipse plug-in
  • GraphMind is a mindmap editor for Drupal. It has the basic mindmap features and some Drupal specific enhancements. There is a quick screencast about how GraphMind looks like and what is does. The Flex source is also available from Github
  • GrOWL is the software framework to provide graphical, intuitive browsing and editing of knowledge maps. GrOWL is open source and is used in several projects worldwide. None of the online demos apparently work, but the screenshots look interesting and the code is still available
  • irON using spreadsheets, via its notation and specification. Spreadsheets can be used for initial authoring, esp if the irON guidelines are followed. See further this case study of Sweet Tools in a spreadsheet using irON (commON)
  • ITM T3 stands for Terminology, Thesaurus, Taxonomy, Metadata dictionary. ITM T3 includes a range of functions for managing enterprise shareable multilingual domain-specific taxonomies, thesaurus, terminologies in a unified way. It uses XML, SKOS and RDF standards. Commercial; from Mondeca
  • MindRaider is Semantic Web outliner. It aims to connect the tradition of outline editors with emerging technologies. MindRaider mission is to organize not only the content of your hard drive but also your cognitive base and social relationships in a way that enables quick navigation, concise representation and inferencing
  • Topincs is a Topic Map authoring software that allows groups to share their knowledge over the web. It makes use of a variety of modern technologies. The most important are Topic Maps, REST and Ajax. It consists of three components: the Wiki, the Editor, and the Server. The servier requires AMP; the Editor and Wiki are based on browser plug-ins.

Ontology Editing

  • First, see all of the Comprehensive Tools listing above
  • Anzo for Excel includes an (RDFS and OWL-based) ontology editor that can be used directly within Excel. In addition to that, Anzo for Excel includes the capability to automatically generate an ontology from existing spreadsheet data, which is very useful for quick bootstrapping of an ontology.
  • Hozo is an ontology visualization and development tool that brings version control constructs to group ontology development; limited to a prototype, with no online demo
  • Lexaurus Editor is for off-line creation and editing of vocabularies, taxonomies and thesauri. It supports import and export in Zthes and SKOS XML formats, and allows hierarchical / poly-hierarchical structures to be loaded for editing, or even multiple vocabularies to be loaded simultaneously, so that terms from one taxonomy can be re-used in another, using drag and drop. Not available in open source
  • Model Futures OWL Editor combines simple OWL tools, featuring UML (XMI), ErWin, thesaurus and imports. The editor is tree-based and has a “navigator” tool for traversing property and class-instance relationships. It can import XMI (the interchange format for UML) and Thesaurus Descriptor (BT-NT XML), and EXPRESS XML files. It can export to MS Word.
  • OntoTrack is a browsing and editing ontology authoring tool for OWL Lite. It combines a sophisticated graphical layout with mouse enabled editing features optimized for efficient navigation and manipulation of large ontologies
  • OWLViz is an attractive visual editor for OWL and is available as a Protégé plug-in
  • PoolParty is a triple store-based thesaurus management environment which uses SKOS and text extraction for tag recommendations. See further this manual, which describes more fully the system’s functionality. Also, there is a PoolParty Web service that enables a Zthes thesaurus in XML format to be uploaded and converted to SKOS (via skos:Concepts)
  • SKOSEd is a plugin for Protege 4 that allows you to create and edit thesauri (or similar artefacts) represented in the Simple Knowledge Organisation System (SKOS).
  • TemaTres is a Web application to manage controlled vocabularies, taxonomies and thesaurus. The vocabularies may be exported in Zthes, Skos, TopicMap, etc.
  • ThManager is a tool for creating and visualizing SKOS RDF vocabularies. ThManager facilitates the management of thesauri and other types of controlled vocabularies, such as taxonomies or classification schemes
  • Vitro is a general-purpose web-based ontology and instance editor with customizable public browsing. Vitro is a Java web application that runs in a Tomcat servlet container. With Vitro, you can: 1) create or load ontologies in OWL format; 2) edit instances and relationships; 3) build a public web site to display your data; and 4) search your data with Lucene. Still in somewhat early phases, with no online demos and with minimal interfaces.

Not Apparently in Active Use

  • Omnigator The Omnigator is a form-based manipulaton tool centered on Topic Maps, though it enables the loading and navigation of any conforming topic map in XTM, HyTM, LTM or RDF formats. There is a free evaluation version.
  • OntoGen is a semi-automatic and data-driven ontology editor focusing on editing of topic ontologies (a set of topics connected with different types of relations). The system combines text-mining techniques with an efficient user interface. It requires .Net.
  • OWL-S-editor is an editor for the development of services in OWL-S, with graphical, WSDL and import/export support
  • ReTAX+ is an aide to help a taxonomist create a consistent taxonomy and in particular provides suggestions as to where a new entity could be placed in the taxonomy whilst retaining the integrity of the revised taxonomy (c.f., problems in ontology modelling)
  • SWOOP is a lightweight ontology editor. (Swoop is no longer under active development at mindswap. Continuing development can be found on SWOOP’s Google Code homepage at http://code.google.com/p/swoop/)
  • WebOnto supports the browsing, creation and editing of ontologies through coarse grained and fine grained visualizations and direct manipulation.

Ontology Mapping

  • COMA++ is a schema and ontology matching tool with a comprehensive infrastructure. Its graphical interface supports a variety of interaction
  • ConcepTool is a system to model, analyse, verify, validate, share, combine, and reuse domain knowledge bases and ontologies, reasoning about their implication
  • MatchIT automates and facilitates schema matching and semantic mapping between different Web vocabularies. MatchIT runs as a stand-alone or plug-in Eclipse application and can be integrated with popular third party applications. MatchIT’s uses Adaptive Lexicon™ as an ontology-driven dictionary and thesaurus of English language terminology to quantify and ank the semantic similarity of concepts. It apparently is not available in open source
  • myOntology is used to produce the theoretical foundations, and deployable technology for the Wiki-based, collaborative and community-driven development and maintenance of ontologies instance data and mappings
  • OLA/OLA2 (OWL-Lite Alignment) matches ontologies written in OWL. It relies on a similarity combining all the knowledge used in entity descriptions. It also deal with one-to-many relationships and circularity in entity descriptions through a fixpoint algorithm
  • Potluck is a Web-based user interface that lets casual users—those without programming skills and data modeling expertise—mash up data themselves. Potluck is novel in its use of drag and drop for merging fields, its integration and extension of the faceted browsing paradigm for focusing on subsets of data to align, and its application of simultaneous editing for cleaning up data syntactically. Potluck also lets the user construct rich visualizations of data in-place as the user aligns and cleans up the data.
  • PRIOR+ is a generic and automatic ontology mapping tool, based on propagation theory, information retrieval technique and artificial intelligence model. The approach utilizes both linguistic and structural information of ontologies, and measures the profile similarity and structure similarity of different elements of ontologies in a vector space model (VSM).
  • Vine is a tool that allows users to perform fast mappings of terms across ontologies. It performs smart searches, can search using regular expressions, requires a minimum number of clicks to perform mappings, can be plugged into arbitrary mapping framework, is non-intrusive with mappings stored in an external file, has export to text files, and adds metadata to any mapping. See also http://sourceforge.net/projects/vine/.

Not Apparently in Active Use

  • ASMOV (Automated Semantic Mapping of Ontologies with Validation) is an automatic ontology matching tool which has been designed in order to facilitate the integration of heterogeneous systems, using their data source ontologies
  • Chimaera is a software system that supports users in creating and maintaining distributed ontologies on the web. Two major functions it supports are merging multiple ontologies together and diagnosing individual or multiple ontologies
  • CMS (CROSI Mapping System) is a structure matching system that capitalizes on the rich semantics of the OWL constructs found in source ontologies and on its modular architecture that allows the system to consult external linguistic resources
  • ConRef is a service discovery system which uses ontology mapping techniques to support different user vocabularies
  • DRAGO reasons across multiple distributed ontologies interrelated by pairwise semantic mappings, with a vision of peer-to-peer mapping of many distributed ontologies on the Web. It is implemented as an extension to an open source Pellet OWL Reasoner
  • Falcon-AO (Finding, aligning and learning ontologies) is an automatic ontology matching tool that includes the three elementary matchers of String, V-Doc and GMO. In addition, it integrates a partitioner PBM to cope with large-scale ontologies
  • FOAM is the Framework for ontology alignment and mapping. It is based on heuristics (similarity) of the individual entities (concepts, relations, and instances)
  • hMAFRA (Harmonize Mapping Framework) is a set of tools supporting semantic mapping definition and data reconciliation between ontologies. The targeted formats are XSD, RDFS and KAON
  • IF-Map is an Information Flow based ontology mapping method. It is based on the theoretical grounds of logic of distributed systems and provides an automated streamlined process for generating mappings between ontologies of the same domain
  • LILY is a system matching heterogeneous ontologies. LILY extracts a semantic subgraph for each entity, then it uses both linguistic and structural information in semantic subgraphs to generate initial alignments. The system is presently in a demo version only
  • MAFRA Toolkit – the Ontology MApping FRAmework Toolkit allows users to create semantic relations between two (source and target) ontologies, and apply such relations in translating source ontology instances into target ontology instances
  • OntoEngine is a step toward allowing agents to communicate even though they use different formal languages (i.e., different ontologies). It translates data from a “source” ontology to a “target”
  • OWLS-MX is a hybrid semantic Web service matchmaker. OWLS-MX 1.0 utilizes both description logic reasoning, and token based IR similarity measures. It applies different filters to retrieve OWL-S services that are most relevant to a given query
  • RiMOM (Risk Minimization based Ontology Mapping) integrates different alignment strategies: edit-distance based strategy, vector-similarity based strategy, path-similarity based strategy, background-knowledge based strategy, and three similarity-propagation based strategies
  • semMF is a flexible framework for calculating semantic similarity between objects that are represented as arbitrary RDF graphs. The framework allows taxonomic and non-taxonomic concept matching techniques to be applied to selected object properties
  • Snoggle is a graphical, SWRL-based ontology mapper. Snoggle attempts to solve the ontology mapping problem by providing a graphical user interface (similar to which of the Microsoft Visio) to guide the process of ontology vocabulary alignment. In Snoggle, user-defined mappings can be serialized into rules, which is expressed using SWRL
  • Terminator is a tool for creating term to ontology resource mappings (documentation in Finnish).

Ontology Visualization/Analysis

Though all are not relevant, see my post from a couple of years back on large-scale RDF graph software.

  • Social network graphing tools (many covered elsewhere)
  • Cytoscape is a bioinformatics software platform for visualizing molecular interaction networks and integrating these interactions with gene expression profiles and other state data; I have also written specifically about Cytoscape’s use in UMBEL
    • RDFScape is a project that brings Semantic Web “features” to the popular Systems Biology software Cytoscape
    • NetworkAnalyzer performs analysis of biological networks and calculates network topology parameters including the diameter of a network, the average number of neighbors, and the number of connected pairs of nodes. It also computes the distributions of more complex network parameters such as node degrees, average clustering coefficients, topological coefficients, and shortest path lengths. It displays the results in diagrams, which can be saved as images or text files; used by SD
  • Graphl is a tool for collaborative editing and visualisation of graphs, representing relationships between resources or concepts of the real world. Graphl may be thought of as a visual wiki, a place where everybody can contribute to a shared repository of knowledge
  • igraph is a free software package for creating and manipulating undirected and directed graphs
  • Network Workbench is a very complex, comprehensive; Swiss Army Knife
  • NetworkX – Python; very clean
  • Stanford Network Analysis Package (SNAP) is a general purpose network analysis and graph mining library. It is written in C++ and easily scales to massive networks with hundreds of millions of nodes
  • Social Networks Visualizer (SocNetV) is a flexible and user-friendly tool for the analysis and visualization of Social Networks. It lets you construct networks (mathematical graphs) with a few clicks on a virtual canvas or load networks of various formats (GraphViz, GraphML, Adjacency, Pajek, UCINET, etc) and modify them to suit your needs. SocNetV also offers a built-in web crawler, allowing you to automatically create networks from all links found in a given initial URL
  • Tulip may be incredibly strong
  • Springgraph component for Flex
  • VizierFX is a Flex library for drawing network graphs. The graphs are laid out using GraphViz on the server side, then passed to VizierFX to perform the rendering. The library also provides the ability to run ActionScript code in response to events on the graph, such as mousing over a node or clicking on it.

Miscellaneous Ontology Tools

  • Apolda (Automated Processing of Ontologies with Lexical Denotations for Annotation) is a plugin (processing resource) for GATE (http://gate.ac.uk/). The Apolda processing resource (PR) annotates a document like a gazetteer, but takes the terms from an (OWL) ontology rather than from a list
  • DL-Learner is a tool for learning complex classes from examples and background knowledge. It extends Inductive Logic Programming to Description Logics and the Semantic Web. DL-Learner now has a flexible component based design, which allows to extend it easily with new learning algorithms, learning problems, reasoners, and supported background knowledge sources. A new type of supported knowledge sources are SPARQL endpoints, where DL-Learner can extract knowledge fragments, which enables learning classes even on large knowledge sources like DBpedia, and includes an OWL API reasoner interface and Web service interface.
  • LexiLink is a tool for building, curating and managing multiple lexicons and ontologies in one enterprise-wide Web-based application. The core of the technology is based on RDF and OWL
  • mopy is the Music Ontology Python library, designed to provide easy to use python bindings for ontology terms for the creation and manipulation of music ontology data. mopy can handle information from several ontologies, including the Music Ontology, full FOAF vocab, and the timeline and chord ontologies.
  • OBDA (Ontology Based Data Access) is a plugin for Protégé aimed to be a full-fledged OBDA ontology and component editor. It provides data source and mapping editors, as well as querying facilities that, in sum, allow you to design and test every aspect of an OBDA system. It supports relational data sources (RDBMS) and GLAV-like mappings. In its current beta form, it requires Protege 3.3.1, a reasoner implementing the OBDA extensions to DIG 1.1 (e.g., the DIG server for QuOnto) and Jena 2.5.5
  • OntoComP is a Protégé 4 plugin for completing OWL ontologies. It enables the user to check whether an OWL ontology contains “all relevant information” about the application domain, and extend the ontology appropriately if this is not the case
  • Ontology Browser is a browser created as part of the CO-ODE (http://www.co-ode.org/) project; rather simple interface and use
  • Ontology Metrics is a web-based tool that displays statistics about a given ontology, including the expressivity of the language it is written in
  • OntoSpec is a SWI-Prolog module, aiming at automatically generating XHTML specification from RDF-Schema or OWL ontologies
  • OWL API is a Java interface and implementation for the W3C Web Ontology Language (OWL), used to represent Semantic Web ontologies. The API is focused towards OWL Lite and OWL DL and offers an interface to inference engines and validation functionality
  • OWL Module Extractor is a Web service that extracts a module for a given set of terms from an ontology. It is based on an implementation of locality-based modules that is part of the OWL API.
  • OWL Syntax Converter is an online tool for converting ontologies between different formats, including several OWL syntaxes, RDF/XML, KRSS
  • OWL Verbalizer is an on-line tool that verbalizes OWL ontologies in (controlled) English
  • OwlSight is an OWL ontology browser that runs in any modern web browser; it’s developed with Google Web Toolkit and uses Gwt-Ext, as well as OWL-API. OwlSight is the client component and uses Pellet as its OWL reasoner
  • Pellint is an open source lint tool for Pellet which flags and (optionally) repairs modeling constructs that are known to cause performance problems. Pellint recognizes several patterns at both the axiom and ontology level.
  • PROMPT is a tab plug-in for Protégé is for managing multiple ontologies by comparing versions of the same ontology, moving frames between included and including project, merging two ontologies into one, or extracting a part of an ontology.
  • SegmentationApp is a Java application that segments a given ontology according to the approach described in “Web Ontology Segmentation: Analysis, Classification and Use” (http://www.co-ode.org/resources/papers/seidenberg-www2006.pdf)
  • SETH is a software effort to deeply integrate Python with Web Ontology Language (OWL-DL dialect). The idea is to import ontologies directly into the programming context so that its classes are usable alongside standard Python classes
  • SKOS2GenTax is an online tool that converts hierarchical classifications available in the W3C SKOS (Simple Knowledge Organization Systems) format into RDF-S or OWL ontologies
  • SpecGen (v5) is an ontology specification generator tool. It’s written in Python using Redland RDF library and licensed under the MIT license
  • Text2Onto is a framework for ontology learning from textual resources that extends and re-engineers an earlier framework developed by the same group (TextToOnto). Text2Onto offers three main features: it represents the learned knowledge at a metalevel by instantiating the modelling primitives of a Probabilistic Ontology Model (POM), thus remaining independent from a specific target language while allowing the translation of the instantiated primitives
  • Thea is a Prolog library for generating and manipulating OWL (Web Ontology Language) content. Thea OWL parser uses SWI-Prolog’s Semantic Web library for parsing RDF/XML serialisations of OWL documents into RDF triples and then it builds a representation of the OWL ontology
  • TONES Ontology Repository is primarily designed to be a central location for ontologies that might be of use to tools developers for testing purposes; it is part of the TONES project
  • Visual Ontology Manager (VOM) is a family of tools enables UML-based visual construction of component-based ontologies for use in collaborative applications and interoperability solutions.
  • Web Ontology Manager is a lightweight, Web-based tool using J2EE for managing ontologies expressed in Web Ontology Language (OWL). It enables developers to browse or search the ontologies registered with the system by class or property names. In addition, they can submit a new ontology file
  • RDF evoc (external vocabulary importer) is an RDF external vocabulary importer module (evoc) for Drupal caches any external RDF vocabulary and provides properties to be mapped to CCK fields, node title and body. This module requires the RDF and the SPARQL modules.

Not Apparently in Active Use

  • Almo is an ontology-based workflow engine in Java supporting the ARTEMIS project; part of the OntoWare initiative
  • ClassAKT is a text classification web service for classifying documents according to the ACM Computing Classification System
  • Elmo provides a simple API to access ontology oriented data inside a Sesame RDF repository. The domain model is simplified into independent concerns that are composed together for multi-dimensional, inter-operating, or integrated applications
  • ExtrAKT is a tool for extracting ontologies from Prolog knowledge bases.
  • F-Life is a tool for analysing and maintaining life-cycle patterns in ontology development.
  • Foxtrot is a recommender system which represents user profiles in ontological terms, allowing inference, bootstrapping and profile visualization.
  • HyperDAML creates an HTML representation of OWL content to enable hyperlinking to specific objects, properties, etc.
  • LinKFactory is an ontology management tool, it provides an effective and user-friendly way to create, maintain and extend extensive multilingual terminology systems and ontologies (English, Spanish, French, etc.). It is designed to build, manage and maintain large, complex, language independent ontologies.
  • LSW – the Lisp semantic Web toolkit enables OWL ontologies to be visualized. It was written by Alan Ruttenberg
  • Ontodella is a Prolog HTTP server for category projection and semantic linking
  • OntoWeaver is an ontology-based approach to Web sites, which provides high level support for web site design and development
  • OWLLib is a PHP library for accessing OWL files. OWL is w3.org standard for storing semantic information
  • pOWL is a Semantic Web development platform for ontologies in PHP. pOWL consists of a number of components, including RAP
  • ROWL is the Rule Extension of OWL; it is from the Mobile Commerce Lab in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Semantic Net Generator is a utlity for generating Topic Maps automatically from different data sources by using rules definitions specified with Jelly XML syntax. This Java library provides Jelly tags to access and modify data sources (also RDF) to create a semantic network
  • SMORE is OWL markup for HTML pages. SMORE integrates the SWOOP ontology browser, providing a clear and consistent way to find and view Classes and Properties, complete with search functionality
  • SOBOLEO is a system for Web-based collaboration to create SKOS taxonomies and ontologies and to annotate various Web resources using them
  • SOFA is a Java API for modeling ontologies and Knowledge Bases in ontology and Semantic Web applications. It provides a simple, abstract and language neutral ontology object model, inferencing mechanism and representation of the model with OWL, DAML+OIL and RDFS languages; from java.dev
  • WebScripter is a tool that enables ordinary users to easily and quickly assemble reports extracting and fusing information from multiple, heterogeneous DAMLized Web sources.
Posted:January 25, 2010

Sweet Tools Listing

Minor Updates Provided to these Standard AI3 Datasets

If you are like me, you like to clear the decks before the start of major new projects. In Structured Dynamics‘ case, we actually have multiple new initiatives getting underway, so the deck clearing has been especially focused this time.

As a result, we have updated Sweet Tools, AI3‘s listing of semantic Web and -related tools, with the addition of some 30 new tools, updates to others, and deletions of five expired entries. The dataset now lists 835 tools. And, as before, there is also now a new structured data view via conStruct (pick the Sweet Tools dataset).

We have also updated SWEETpedia, a listing of 246 research articles that use Wikipedia in one way or another to do semantic-Web related research. Some 20 new papers were added to this update.

Please use the comments section on this post to suggest new tools or new research articles for inclusion in future updates.

Posted:January 22, 2010

Friday Brown Bag LunchI just came across a VC blog pondering the value to a start-up of operating in “Stealth Mode” or not.  I’ve amusingly come to the conclusion that all of this — particularly the “stealth” giveaway — is so much marketing hype.  When a start-up claims they’re coming out of stealth mode, grab your wallet.

The most interesting and telling example I have of this is Rearden Commerce, which was announced in a breathy cover story in InfoWorld in February 2005 about the company and its founder/CEO Patrick Grady.  The company has an obvious “in” with the magazine; in 2001 InfoWorld also carried a similar piece on the predecessor company to Rearden, Talaris Corporaton.

According to a recent Business Week article, Rearden Commerce and its predecessors reaching back to an earlier company called Gazoo founded in 1999 have raised $67 million in venture capital.  While it is laudable the founder has reportedly put his own money into the venture, this venture through its massive funding and high-water mark of 80 employees or so hardly qualifies as “stealth.”

As early as 2001 with the same technology and business model, this same firm was pushing the “stealth” moniker. According to an October 2001 press release:

“The company, under its stealth name Gazoo, was selected by Red Herring magazine as one of its ‘Ten to Watch’ in 2001.”  [emphasis added]

Even today, though no longer using the active name Talaris Corporation, it has close to 115,000 citations on Yahoo! Notable VCs such as Charter Ventures, Foundation Capital, JAFCo and Empire Capital have backed it through its multiple incubations.

Holmes Report, a marketing company, provides some insight into how the earlier Talaris was spun in 2001:

“The goal of the Talaris launch was to gain mindshare among key business and IT trade press and position Talaris as a ‘different kind of start-up’ with a multi-tiered business model, seasoned executive team and tested product offering.”

[Hmmm; grind me a pound!]

The Holmes Report documents the analyst firms and leading journals and newspapers to which it made outreach.  Actually, this outreach is pretty impressive.  Good companies do the same all of the time and that is to be lauded.  What is to be questioned, however, is how many “stealths” a cat can have.  Methinks this one is one too many.

“Stealth” thus appears to be code for an existing company of some duration that has had disappointing traction and now has new financing, a new name, new positioning, or all of the above.  So, interested in a start-up that just came out of stealth mode?  Let me humbly suggest standard due diligence.

Friday Brown Bag Lunch This Friday brown bag leftover was first placed into the AI3 refrigerator on October 13, 2005. No changes have been made to the original posting, except the [grinding] bit.

However, as of last year, Rearden had upped its VC funding to $240 million (can we spell multiple ?). Today, it is now focused on the travel industry. Fly me to the moon!

Posted by AI3's author, Mike Bergman Posted on January 22, 2010 at 12:24 am in Brown Bag Lunch, Software and Venture Capital | Comments (0)
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Posted:January 12, 2010

Seven Pillars of the Open Semantic Enterprise
Guideposts for How to Make the Transition

The beginning of a new year and a new decade is a perfect opportunity to take stock of how the world is changing and how we can change with it. Over the past year I have been writing on many foundational topics relevant to the use of semantic technologies in enterprises.

In this post I bring those threads together to present a unified view of these foundations — some seven pillars — to the open semantic enterprise.

By open semantic enterprise we mean an organization that uses the languages and standards of the semantic Web, including RDF, RDFS, OWL, SPARQL and others to integrate existing information assets, using the best practices of linked data and the open world assumption, and targeting knowledge management applications. It does so using some or all of the seven foundational pieces (“pillars”) noted herein.

The foundational approaches to the open semantic enterprise do not necessarily mean open data nor open source (though they are suitable for these purposes with many open source tools available [3]). The techniques can equivalently be applied to internal, closed, proprietary data and structures. The techniques can themselves be used as a basis for bringing external information into the enterprise. ‘Open’ is in reference to the critical use of the open world assumption.

These practices do not require replacing current systems and assets; they can be applied equally to public or proprietary information; and they can be tested and deployed incrementally at low risk and cost. The very foundations of the practice encourage a learn-as-you-go approach and active and agile adaptation. While embracing the open semantic enterprise can lead to quite disruptive benefits and changes, it can be accomplished as such with minimal disruption in itself. This is its most compelling aspect.

Like any change in practice or learning, embracing the open semantic enterprise is fundamentally a people process. This is the pivotal piece to the puzzle, but also the one that does not lend itself to ready formula about pillars or best practices. Leadership and vision is necessary to begin the process. People are the fuel for impelling it. So, we’ll take this fuel as a given below, and concentrate instead on the mechanics and techniques by which this vision can be achieved. In this sense, then, there are really eight pillars to the open semantic enterprise, with people residing at the apex.

This article is synthetic, with links to (largely) my preparatory blog postings and topics that preceded it. Assuming you are interested in becoming one of those leaders who wants to bring the benefits of an open semantic enterprise to your organization, I encourage you to follow the reference links for more background and detail.

Benefits A Review of the Benefits

OK, so what’s the big deal about an open semantic enterprise and why should my organization care?

We should first be clear that the natural scope of the open semantic enterprise is in knowledge management and representation [1]. Suitable applications include data federation, data warehousing, search, enterprise information integration, business intelligence, competitive intelligence, knowledge representation, and so forth [2]. In the knowledge domain, the benefits for embracing the open semantic enterprise can be summarized as greater insight with lower risk, lower cost, faster deployment, and more agile responsiveness.

The intersection of knowledge domain, semantic technologies and the approaches herein means it is possible to start small in testing the transition to a semantic enterprise. These efforts can be done incrementally and with a focus on early, high-value applications and domains.

There is absolutely no need to abandon past practices. There is much that can be done to leverage existing assets. Indeed, those prior investments are often the requisite starting basis to inform semantic initiatives.

Embracing the pillars of the open semantic enterprise brings these knowledge management benefits:

  • Domains can be analyzed and inspected incrementally
  • Schema can be incomplete and developed and refined incrementally
  • The data and the structures within these frameworks can be used and expressed in a piecemeal or incomplete manner
  • Data with partial characterizations can be combined with other data having complete characterizations
  • Systems built with these frameworks are flexible and robust; as new information or structure is gained, it can be incorporated without negating the information already resident, and
  • Both open and closed world subsystems can be bridged.

Moreover, by building on successful Web architectures, we can also put in place loosely coupled, distributed systems that can grow and interoperate in a decentralized manner. These also happen to be perfect architectures for flexible collaboration systems and networks.

These benefits arise both from individual pillars in the open semantic enterprise foundation, as well as in the interactions between them. Let’s now re-introduce these seven pillars.

Pillar #1Pillar #1: The RDF Data Model

As I stated on the occasion of the 10th birthday of the Resource Description Framework data model, I belief RDF is the single most important foundation to the open semantic enterprise [4]. RDF can be applied equally to all structured, semi-structured and unstructured content. By defining new types and predicates, it is possible to create more expressive vocabularies within RDF. This expressiveness enables RDF to define controlled vocabularies with exact semantics. These features make RDF a powerful data model and language for data federation and interoperability across disparate datasets.

Via various processors or extractors, RDF can capture and convey the metadata or information in unstructured (say, text), semi-structured (say, HTML documents) or structured sources (say, standard databases). This makes RDF almost a “universal solvent” for representing data structure.

Because of this universality, there are now more than 150 off-the-shelf ‘RDFizers’ for converting various non-RDF notations (data formats and serializations) to RDF [5]. Because of its diversity of serializations and simple data model, it is also easy to create new converters. Once in a common RDF representation, it is easy to incorporate new datasets or new attributes. It is also easy to aggregate disparate data sources as if they came from a single source. This enables meaningful compositions of data from different applications regardless of format or serialization.

What this practically means is that the integration layer can be based on RDF, but that all source data and schema can still reside in their native forms [6]. If it is easier or more convenient to author, transfer or represent data in non-RDF forms, great [7]. RDF is only necessary at the point of federation, and not all knowledge workers need be versed in the framework.

Pillar #2 Pillar #2: Linked Data Techniques

Linked data is a set of best practices for publishing and deploying instance and class data using the RDF data model. Two of the best practices are to name the data objects using uniform resource identifiers (URIs), and to expose the data for access via the HTTP protocol. Both of these practices enable the Web to become a distributed database, which also means that Web architectures can also be readily employed (see Pillar #5 below).

Linked data is applicable to public or enterprise data, open or proprietary. It is really straightforward to employ. Structured Dynamics has published a useful FAQ on linked data.

Additional linked data best practices relate to how to characterize and classify data, especially in the use of predicates with the proper semantics for establishing the degree of relatedness for linked data items from disparate sources.

Linked data has been a frequent topic of this blog, including how adding linkages creates value for existing data, with a four-part series about a year ago on linked data best practices [8]. As advocated by Structured Dynamics, our linked data best practices are geared to data interconnections, interrelationships and context that is equally useful to both humans and machine agents.

Pillar #3 Pillar #3: Adaptive Ontologies

Ontologies are the guiding structures for how information is interrelated and made coherent using RDF and its related schema and ontology vocabularies, RDFS and OWL [10]. Thousands of off-the-shelf ontologies exist — a minority of which are suitable for re-use — and new ones appropriate to any domain or scope at hand can be readily constructed.

In standard form, semantic Web ontologies may range from the small and simple to the large and complex, and may perform the roles of defining relationships among concepts, integrating instance data, orienting to other knowledge and domains, or mapping to other schema [11]. These are explicit uses in the way that we construct ontologies; we also believe it is important to keep concept definitions and relationships expressed separately from instance data and their attributes [9].

But, in addition to these standard roles, we also look to ontologies to stand on their own as guiding structures for ontology-driven applications (see next pillar). With a relatively few minor and new best practices, ontologies can take on the double role of informing user interfaces in addition to standard information integration.

In this vein we term our structures adaptive ontologies [11,12,13]. Some of the user interface considerations that can be driven by adaptive ontologies include: attribute labels and tooltips; navigation and browsing structures and trees; menu structures; auto-completion of entered data; contextual dropdown list choices; spell checkers; online help systems; etc. Put another way, what makes an ontology adaptive is to supplement the standard machine-readable purpose of ontologies to add human-readable labels, synonyms, definitions and the like.

A neat trick occurs with this slight expansion of roles. The knowledge management effort can now shift to the actual description, nature and relationships of the information environment. In other words, ontologies themselves become the focus of effort and development. The KM problem no longer needs to be abstracted to the IT department or third-party software. The actual concepts, terminology and relations that comprise coherent ontologies now become the explicit focus of KM activities.

Any existing structure (or multiples thereof) can become a starting basis for these ontologies and their vocabularies, from spreadsheets to naïve data structures and lists and taxonomies. So, while producing an operating ontology that meets the best practice thresholds noted herein has certain requirements, kicking off or contributing to this process poses few technical or technology demands.

The skills needed to create these adaptive ontologies are logic, coherent thinking and domain knowledge. That is, any subject matter expert or knowledge worker likely has the necessary skills to contribute to useful ontology development and refinement. With adaptive ontologies powering ontology-driven apps (see next), we thus see a shift in roles and responsibilities away from IT to the knowledge workers themselves. This shift acts to democratize the knowledge management function and flatten the organization.

Pillar #4 Pillar #4: Ontology-driven Applications

The complement to adaptive ontologies are ontology-driven applications. By definition, ontology-driven apps are modular, generic software applications designed to operate in accordance with the specifications contained in an adaptive ontology. The relationships and structure of the information driving these applications are based on the standard functions and roles of ontologies, as supplemented by the human and user interface roles noted above [11,12,13].

Ontology-driven apps fulfill specific generic tasks. Examples of current ontology-driven apps include imports and exports in various formats, dataset creation and management, data record creation and management, reporting, browsing, searching, data visualization, user access rights and permissions, and similar. These applications provide their specific functionality in response to the specifications in the ontologies fed to them.

The applications are designed more similarly to widgets or API-based frameworks than to the dedicated software of the past, though the dedicated functionality (e.g., graphing, reporting, etc.) is obviously quite similar. The major change in these ontology-driven apps is to accommodate a relatively common abstraction layer that responds to the structure and conventions of the guiding ontologies. The major advantage is that single generic applications can supply shared functionality based on any properly constructed adaptive ontology.

This design thus limits software brittleness and maximizes software re-use. Moreover, as noted above, it shifts the locus of effort from software development and maintenance to the creation and modification of knowledge structures. The KM emphasis can shift from programming and software to logic and terminology [12].

Pillar #5 Pillar #5: A Web-oriented Architecture

A Web-oriented architecture (WOA) is a subset of the service-oriented architectural (SOA) style, wherein discrete functions are packaged into modular and shareable elements (”services”) that are made available in a distributed and loosely coupled manner. WOA uses the representational state transfer (REST) style. REST provides principles for how resources are defined and used and addressed with simple interfaces without additional messaging layers such as SOAP or RPC. The principles are couched within the framework of a generalized architectural style and are not limited to the Web, though they are a foundation to it [14].

REST and WOA stand in contrast to earlier Web service styles that are often known by the WS-* acronym (such as WSDL, etc.). WOA has proven itself to be highly scalable and robust for decentralized users since all messages and interactions are self-contained.

Enterprises have much to learn from the Web’s success. WOA has a simple design with REST and idempotent operations, simple messaging, distributed and modular services, and simple interfaces. It has a natural synergy with linked data via the use of URI identifiers and the HTTP transport protocol. As we see with the explosion of searchable dynamic databases exposed via the Web, so too can we envision the same architecture and design providing a distributed framework for data federation. Our daily experience with browser access of the Web shows how incredibly diverse and distributed systems can meaningfully interoperate [15].

This same architecture has worked beautifully in linking documents; it is now pointing the way to linking data; and we are seeing but the first phases of linking people and groups together via meaningful collaboration. While generally based on only the most rudimentary basis of connections, today’s social networking platforms are changing the nature of contacts and interaction.

The foundations herein provide a basis for marrying data and documents in a design geared from the ground up for collaboration. These capabilities are proven and deployable today. The only unclear aspects will be the scale and nature of the benefits [16].

Pillar #6 Pillar #6: An Incremental, Layered Approach

To this point, you’ll note that we have been speaking in what are essentially “layers”. We began with existing assets, both internal and external, in many diverse formats. These are then converted or transformed into RDF-capable forms. These various sources are then exposed via a WOA Web services layer for distributed and loosely-coupled access. Then, we integrate and federate this information via adaptive ontologies, which then can be searched, inspected and managed via ontology-driven apps. We have presented this layered architecture before [13], and have also expressed this design in relation to current Structured Dynamics’ products [17].

A slight update of this layered view is presented below, made even more general for the purposes of this foundational discussion:

Open Enterprise Architecture
(click to expand)

Semantic technology does not change or alter the fact that most activities of the enterprise are transactional, communicative or documentary in nature. Structured, relational data systems for transactions or records are proven, performant and understood. On its very face, it should be clear that the meaning of these activities — their semantics, if you will — is by nature an augmentation or added layer to how to conduct the activities themselves.

This simple truth affirms that semantic technologies are not a starting basis, then, for these activities, but a way of expressing and interoperating their outcomes. Sure, some semantic understanding and common vocabularies at the front end can help bring consistency and a common language to an enterprise’s activities. This is good practice, and the more that can be done within reason while not stifling innovation, all the better. But we all know that the budget department and function has its own way of doing things separate from sales or R&D. And that is perfectly OK and natural.

Clearly, then, an obvious benefit to the semantic enterprise is to federate across existing data silos. This should be an objective of the first semantic “layer”, and to do so in a way that leverages existing information already in hand. This approach is inherently incremental; if done right, it is also low cost and low risk.

Pillar #7 Pillar #7: The Open World Mindset

As these pillars took shape in our thinking and arguments over the past year, an illusive piece seemed always to be missing. It was like having one of those meaningful dreams, and then waking up in the morning wracking your memory trying to recall that essential, missing insight.

As I most recently wrote [1], that missing piece for this story is the open world assumption (OWA). I argue that this somewhat obscure concept holds within it the key as to why there have been decades of too-frequent failures in the enterprise in business intelligence, data warehousing, data integration and federation, and knowledge management.

Enterprises have been captive to the mindset of traditional relational data management and its (most often unstated) closed world assumption (CWA). Given the success of relational systems for transaction and operational systems — applications for which they are still clearly superior — it is understandable and not surprising that this same mindset has seemed logical for knowledge management problems as well.  But knowledge and KM are by their nature incomplete, changing and uncertain. A closed-world mindset carries with it certainty and logic implications not supportable by real circumstances.

This is not an esoteric point, but a fundamental one. How one thinks about the world and evaluates it is pivotal to what can be learned and how and with what information. Transactions require completeness and performance; insight requires drawing connections in the face of incompleteness or unknowns.

The absolute applicability of the semantic Web stack to an open-world circumstance is the elephant in the room [1]. By itself, the open world mindset provides no assurance of gaining insight or wisdom. But, absent it, we place thresholds on information and understanding that may neither be affordable nor achievable with traditional, closed-world approaches.

And, by either serendipity or some cosmic beauty, the open world mindset also enables incremental development, testing and refinement. Even if my basic argument of the open world advantage for knowledge management purposes is wrong, we can test that premise at low cost and risk. So, within available budget, pick a doable proof-of-concept, and decide for yourself.

Seven Pillars The Foundations for the Open Semantic Enterprise

The seven pillars above are not magic bullets and each is likely not absolutely essential. But, based on today’s understandings and with still-emerging use cases being developed, we can see our open semantic enterprise as resulting from the interplay of these seven factors:

Open Semantic Enterprise

Thirty years of disappointing knowledge management projects and much wasted money and effort compel that better ways must be found. On the other hand, until recently, too much of the semantic Web discussion has been either revolutionary (“change everything!!”) or argued from pie-in-the-sky bases. Something needs to give.

Our work over the past few years — but especially as focused in the last 12 months — tells us that meaningful semantic Web initiatives can be mounted in the enterprise with potentially huge benefits, all at manageable risks and costs. These seven pillars point to way to how this might happen. What is now required is that eighth pillar — you.


[1] See, M.K. Bergman, 2009. “The Open World Assumption: Elephant in the Room“, AI3:::Adaptive Information blog, December 21, 2009.
[2] In most instances, semantic technologies are poorly suited to transactional or operational applications. Also, there are instances in modeling specific closed-world domains where ontologies can be quite useful, such as in aerospace, petrochemicals, engineering, etc., where the scope of the domain can be precisely bounded and defined. Such efforts tend to be high cost with lengthy lead times. There are vendors who support efforts in these areas, though my company, Structured Dynamics, does not. Our focus and the more generally suitable case for semantic technologies we believe is in knowledge representation and management.
[3] The standard Sweet Tools listing on my AI3:::Adaptive Information blog contains more than 800 semantic Web and -related tools, most of which are open source, which can be inspected via filtered and faceted search.
[4] See, M.K. Bergman, 2009. “Advantages and Myths of RDF”, AI3:::Adaptive Information blog, April 8, 2009.
[5] For example, see this listing of more than 150 specific format options available as open source. These converters can also work directly with major application APIs.
[6] For an expansion on RDF as a canonical data model, see further M.K. Bergman, 2009. “Structure the World”, AI3:::Adaptive Information blog, August 3, 2009.
[7] For example, for dataset authoring, Structured Dynamics has developed irON, an instance record and object notation that can be serialized as JSON (called irJSON), XML (called irXML) or comma-separated values (or CSV comma-delimited files, called commON). The purpose of these notations is to provide easier authoring environments and scripting support to RDF-ready datasets. The advantage is to shield users from the nuances of RDF. The design of commON is especially geared to using spreadsheets as authoring environments for instance record tables or simple outline structures.  See further the irON specification.
[8] For a general listing of linked data articles, please see that category on this AI3:::Adaptive Information blog. Specific articles of interest include the four-part series on “Making Linked Data Reasonable Using Description Logics” [9] (February 11, February 15, February 18 and February 23, 2009) and the “The Law of Linked Data” (October 11, 2009).

[9] Our best practices approach makes explicit splits between the “ABox” (for instance data) and “TBox” (for ontology schema) in accordance with our working definition for description logics, a fundamental underpinning for how we use RDF:

“Description logics and their semantics traditionally split concepts and their relationships from the different treatment of instances and their attributes and roles, expressed as fact assertions. The concept split is known as the TBox (for terminological knowledge, the basis for T in TBox) and represents the schema or taxonomy of the domain at hand. The TBox is the structural and intensional component of conceptual relationships. The second split of instances is known as the ABox (for assertions, the basis for A in ABox) and describes the attributes of instances (and individuals), the roles between instances, and other assertions about instances regarding their class membership with the TBox concepts.”
[10] Those unfamiliar with the term ontology might be interested in my first introduction to the subject: M.K. Bergman, 2007. An Intrepid Guide to Ontologies, AI3:::Adaptive Information blog, May 16, 2007.
[11] See M.K. Bergman, 2009. Ontologies as the ‘Engine’ for Data-Driven Applications, AI3:::Adaptive Information blog, June 10, 2009. This is the most detailed explanation, but the specific term adaptive ontology was not yet used. The first dedicated focus on adaptive ontologies was in “Confronting Misconceptions with Adaptive Ontologies” (August 17, 2009). See also [12] and [13].
[13] See, M.K. Bergman, 2009. “Fresh Perspectives on the Semantic Enterprise”, AI3:::Adaptive Information blog, September 28, 2009.
[14] See, M.K. Bergman, 2009. “A General Web-oriented Architecture (WOA) for Structured Data”, AI3:::Adaptive Information blog, May 3, 2009. Also, see the related WOA category for other articles in this area.
[15] See, M.K. Bergman, 2008. “WOA: A New Enterprise Partner for Linked Data”, AI3:::Adaptive Information blog, October 12, 2008.
[17] See http://structureddynamics.com/products.html for a general descriptive illustration of Structured Dynamics’ product stack. There is also a longer slideshow, with particular reference to slide #37.
Posted:January 6, 2010

SD Selected to Proceed with Formal Proposal

Citizen DAN LogoStructured Dynamics and its Citizen DAN project has been selected as one of the finalists to proceed with a formal proposal for the 2010 $5 million Knight News Challenge. The proposal extends SD’s basic structWSF and conStruct Drupal frameworks to provide a data appliance and network (DAN) to support citizen journalists with data and analysis at the local, community level.

Thanks to all of you who submitted votes in support of the earlier draft proposal. The News Challenge received 2,489 proposals for the 2010 contest, according to Jose Zamora, journalism program associate at the Knight Foundation. According to the Nieman Journalism Lab, Zamora said 65 percent of proposals came through the closed category and 35 percent were open.

The next-round full proposals are due by January 31. Eventual winners are slated to be announced around mid-June 2010.