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OWL import - different versions of same ontology

From: Melanie Courtot <mcourtot@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 2011 16:10:10 -0700
Message-Id: <8CDC6126-0F3D-44C0-B700-1397A3AB1B40@gmail.com>
Cc: Mauricio Almeida <priv.mba@gmail.com>
To: OWL Development Mailing List <public-owl-dev@w3.org>

I am running into trouble with import of different resources which in turn import different versions of the same ontology:
IDO gets  http://purl.obolibrary.org/obo/iao/2010-10-26/ontology-metadata.owl 
IAO gets  http://purl.obolibrary.org/obo/iao/2009-11-06/ontology-metadata.owl (via iao-main.owl) 
OGMS gets http://purl.obolibrary.org/obo/iao/dev/ontology-metadata.owl (directly from the dev trunk)

When somebody tries and import for example IDO and IAO, Protege throws an exception "an ontology by that name already exists". (full details at http://groups.google.com/group/information-ontology/msg/7e135221bb037eda)

The OWL 2 spec at http://www.w3.org/TR/owl2-syntax/#Imports reads "The import closure of an ontology O is a set containing O and all the ontologies that O imports. The import closure of O SHOULD NOT contain ontologies O1 and O2 such that

	• O1 and O2 are different ontology versions from the same ontology series, or
	• O1 contains an ontology annotation owl:incompatibleWith with the value equal to either the ontology IRI or the version IRI of O2."

I don't have control over external resources such as IDO or OGMS; I could contact the developers of course, but I am looking for a long term general way of dealing with the issue. Nothing prevents developers of a given resource from importing a specific version of an ontology - this is indeed one of the advantage of having version IRIs.
I don't think we can ask an OWL editor or the user to choose one version - there is no guarantee that the imported file works with the chosen version. Merging may be problematic too, and highlighting the differences to provide a comparison seems like it would be very heavy and unpractical.

It seems like there ought to be a way to strongly encourage external resources to rely on the most recent version of a published ontology - in my case I would prefer developers to consistently rely on http://purl.obolibrary.org/obo/iao/ontology-metadata.owl rather than a specific dated version IRI. I am wondering if anybody came across such an issue before, and maybe has some advice to share? 


Mélanie Courtot
675 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 1L3, Canada
Received on Tuesday, 16 August 2011 23:10:41 UTC

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