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Re: UML-OWL Generator, A product to convert UML into OWL

From: Elisa Kendall <ekendall@sandsoft.com>
Date: Mon, 04 May 2009 14:10:07 -0700
Message-ID: <49FF59AF.5040300@sandsoft.com>
To: Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.manchester.ac.uk>
CC: public-owl-dev@w3.org
Hi Bijan,

Bijan Parsia wrote:
> Thanks Elisa. That's very interested. As you know, my brain seems to 
> resist UML, so these sorts of discussions are helpful indeed.
You're clearly not the only one :).  We /still/ come up with questions 
on both sides of the problem (UML as well as OWL) given that it's nature 
is "round peg, square hole", at levels of detail that still make my head 
hurt at times.
> On 4 May 2009, at 20:24, Elisa Kendall wrote:
>> Hi Bijan,
>> Bijan Parsia wrote:
>>> On 4 May 2009, at 16:41, Elisa Kendall wrote:
> [snip]
>> The analysis requires more than this as it turns out, there are a 
>> number of patterns that tend to work at a high level,
> The idea of higher level patterns is interesting. It seems like you 
> might be able to infer them post translation.
I agree, although we've also found what I'll describe as "diagrammatic 
patterns", where multiple patterns might render the same (or similar) 
OWL, but are useful in figuring out how to translate the model in ways 
that might be abstracted away in OWL.  We have not yet developed 
ontologies that would capture this kind of pattern, though the intention 
is to do so.  Diagram definition in UML needs work (there is an 
outstanding RFP for this that friends are working on at present, in 
fact), so we may wait until there is a potential for more consistency 
before tackling that.
>> but many organizations have their own profiles, best practices, 
>> preferred patterns, and so forth that are also relevant, in addition 
>> to controlled vocabularies.
> Sure. But then we're not really talking about *translating* UML are 
> we? It's more like capturing (more of) the model with UML as the center.
Well -- we still want to translate as much as is possible  (or useful) 
to OWL, for model consistency checking and validation for example, and 
also provide a means to provide feedback to the modeler for further 
separation of concerns, pattern application/reuse, etc.
>>  UML is really very large, covering considerable ground on the 
>> behavioral side, and there are also an increasing number of 
>> metamodels and other profiles (e.g., SysML, SoaML, BPMN, etc.) that 
>> are relevant to any transformation, particularly if customers apply 
>> one or more of them to the model that they then want to transform to 
>> OWL.  We did originally use some NLP capabilities to extract terms, 
>> and may do so again, but even that has to be applied -after- you 
>> understand the patterns in the model.  Most other UML-OWL 
>> transformation approaches we've seen support logical models only -- 
>> the class diagrams, but there are several additional diagrams for 
>> which the semantics are quite useful (e.g., use case diagrams, state 
>> diagrams, component diagrams, etc.).
> [snip]
> Sure, but again there seem to be different things one could do, e.g.,
>     1) translate all *those* diagrams into their logical counterparts
>     2) use those other diagrams to generate a *different* translation 
> of the class diagrams than you would otherwise
> It seems that you do 2.
Currently, but the intent is to also do 1 for certain kinds of diagrams 
over the coming months, especially for the use case and state diagrams, 
to support specific customer needs from a requirements / objectives / 
planning perspective.
>>>> This was early work to tease out some of the issues, including the 
>>>> need for not only a of the language metamodel but an ontology of 
>>>> critical terminology in order to "do the right thing".
>>> I guess I'm still not seeing what's special about the *technique* as 
>>> so described. (Admittedly, the description is pretty sketchy.) I 
>>> could see that the "ontology of critical terminology" might be 
>>> valuable (since, presumably, it'd make or break the translation), 
>>> but that seems to be something for copyright or a trade secret, not 
>>> a matter of patent. I mean, do you think your patent covers *any* 
>>> use of an auxiliary ontology in the translation?
>> Yes -- it's integral, in fact.
> I'm confused. So, if I translate a UML diagram into an OWL ontology 
> and align that ontology to DOLCE, I infringe?
No -- only if you use the ontology as part of the transformation process 
(I think, if I understand what you're saying), and only if the 
transformation met other criteria.
>>>> We still use this approach in our tools, but have refined it 
>>>> significantly since 2000/2001 when we did the original research, as 
>>>> you might expect.
>>> Is there a readable account, e.g., a whitepaper?
>> Nothing that would provide the level of detail you're interested in 
>> at this point - we haven't had the bandwidth to write one.  We're 
>> talking with JPL about doing so later this summer, though, if we have 
>> sufficient time and resources.  If we do, we'll certainly post it or 
>> submit it to an appropriate conference.
> Cool. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
>>>> The approach covers the combination of the methodology and the 
>>>> transformation to OWL (or other things).  It predates ODM 
>>>> substantially, but our current work has been updated to support 
>>>> parts of the standard.
>>> I guess the question is whether one can use ODM without infringing 
>>> on your patent. Or perhaps what one must not do to avoid infringement.
>> There is nothing inherent in using ODM that would infringe on our 
>> patent.  Many UML tools support importing UML profiles and allowing 
>> users to apply them to their models, in fact.  It's only if one wants 
>> to import/export OWL, from a UML tool, using a metamodel, profile, 
>> and ontologies
> This is one thing...
>> in the way that we've done
> ...and this is the other. What I don't quite understand is what would 
> be a way of doing it that isn't "the way you've done".  What you said 
> above seems to make it that *any* use of an auxiliary ontology is 
> infringing.
No -- see my comment above regarding the alignment question.
>> that there is a possibility of infringement.
>>>> When we submitted our inputs to ODM (and since, with subsequent 
>>>> updates to the standard), we agreed to license any relevant patents 
>>>> to anyone who was interested at reasonable commercial rates.  That 
>>>> would include the one you found.
>>> Ok, so you selected "RAND" instead of "royalty free". If I wrote an 
>>> XSLT that translated UML diagrams into OWL that is aligned with a 
>>> foundational ontology (something along the lines of 
>>> <http://www.sfu.ca/~dgasevic/projects/UMLtoOWL/>) do I need a license?
>> No.
> Ok! But that seems to contradict the above. (This is very reassuring, 
> btw.)
>>>> We are also planning to contribute some of the work to an emerging 
>>>> Eclipse project, the Eclipse/MDT project, and hope to get the ODM 
>>>> metamodels, profiles, and APIs out in the Galileo release coming 
>>>> out next month, fyi.  None of those components require a license to 
>>>> our patent from a usage perspective.
>>> You mean that you've licensed to Eclipse the technology so they can 
>>> distribute it? But if someone released a similar project (e.g., for 
>>> NetBeans) they should come to you for a license?
>> We're donating it to the Eclipse foundation under the Eclipse 
>> license, and anyone can reuse it.  The pieces we are providing to 
>> Eclipse will be royalty free, and are useful without requiring 
>> application of our patent.
> Excellent.
>>> Does TopQuandrent have a license? Does their UML conversion infringe?
>> They have not licensed our patent, but the last time I saw their 
>> tool, they rendered diagrams that were (1) not really UML, although 
>> they do use boxes and arrows, and (2) not editable.  Even if they 
>> produce UML (more likely XMI) which can be imported into a UML tool, 
>> they would likely not be infringing, but I'd have to understand what 
>> they are doing better to be sure.
> Ok! (This makes me more interested in what you're doing :))
>>> Do you think the UML-OWL Generator at least *prima facie* infringes? 
>>> If not, why not?  How about ICOM?
>> The UML-OWL Generator -could- be infringing, but there is not enough 
>> information available to be sure.  If it does, the patent examiner 
>> will probably find it long before it publishes.  The one we worked 
>> with was quite good, found a number of papers that helped him 
>> understand what we were doing, the potential benefits, precise 
>> wording of claims, etc.  I don't believe ICOM does (if it hasn't 
>> changed substantially in the last couple of years).
> The main change in ICOM 2 is that instead of ER diagrams it uses 
> UML(ish?) class diagrams.
>     http://www.inf.unibz.it/~franconi/papers/dl-06.pdf
> I believe it uses the standard mapping from UML to SHIQ.
I'll have to re-read the paper, but I doubt that it would based on what 
I recall.

> Cheers,
> Bijan.
Received on Monday, 4 May 2009 21:10:40 UTC

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