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[SE] More Comments on Draft Note

From: David Wood <dwood@softwarememetics.com>
Date: Wed, 2 Mar 2005 12:22:16 -0500
Message-Id: <f11440e1b3fde531cb550fcc62cc6d08@softwarememetics.com>
To: <public-swbp-wg@w3.org> <public-swbp-wg@w3.org> <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>

Hi all,

This message provides my comments on the editors' draft of the Note 
"Ontology Driven Architectures and Potential Uses of the Semantic Web 
in Software Engineering".

OVERVIEW
--------
I have read Mike Uschold's comments and must say that I agree with both 
the comments and the spirit.  I am a bit troubled by the "evangelistic" 
nature of the document.  In general, the tone of the document needs to 
be reworked so that it provides a balanced view of the opportunities 
without trying to overly sell the concepts.  It is clear that the 
authors know the material and have good ideas, but they need to be more 
clearly communicated.

The core of the document is section 3, Proposed Ideas.  Unfortunately, 
the ideas are not clearly described and the descriptions are probably 
too brief.  I can understand Mike's thought that "Ontology Driven 
Architectures" was not addressed, even though I presume that was the 
intention in section 3.1.

I *do* think that the subject matter is suitable for a Note and 
encourage the TF to pursue it.  It fits the SWBP direction, in that it 
provides useful ideas and even some guidance toward furthering those 
ideas.  There are some issues with the WG Charter, especially noting 
that "guidelines that are not based on some form of established 
practice are  out of scope" and "work that requires basic research is 
out of scope".  Although we have consensus that we wish to pursue this 
TF anyway, we should be cautious not to go too deeply into those 
particular rat holes.

I am confused on the provenance of this document.  Did everyone on the 
editors' list really participate?  Or was this draft primarily written 
by Phil and Jeff?


DETAILS
-------

(Status of this Document)

Please note that the proper name of the host working group is the 
"Semantic Web Best Practices & Deployment Working Group".  It is a 
mouthful, but the full name should be used, especially in our own 
documents.   The "& Deployment" part of the name tends to be left out 
for brevity, including in this document.

The public-swbp-wg@w3.org mailing list requests that public comments 
include "comments: " at the start of the Subject header.  We should 
probably say so in the WG documents, if we expect anyone to do it.

(Table of Contents)

I personally think the document reads better if order of sections 3.1 
and 3.2 are reversed.

(Introduction)

I think I understand (and agree with) the points made in the 
Introduction, but the paragraph needs some real work to make them more 
clearly.

(2.1 Composition and Reuse)

I am impressed by anyone who can define 'objects' as 'bundles' with a 
straight face.  Well done :)

(2.2 A Heritage in Model Driven Architecture)

Surely other ontological approaches have been part of CASE and MDA, 
even if they were proprietary and non-OWL?  I think this document 
should better address the history of what has been tried.

The document says, "the more formal the modelling [sic] approach 
chosen, the more abstract the tools needed, often making methods 
difficult to implement, limiting the freedom of expression available to 
the engineer and proving a barrier to communication amongst 
practitioners with lesser experience."  This seems to be a central 
point, and yet the document fails to address it.  If the greater 
formalism of OWL is used, what is the solution to this problem?  How do 
SemWeb techniques help?

"MDA does not currently support automated consistency checking".  Was 
that intended to mean that MDA implementations/tools don't?  Or that it 
is somehow a failure of the architecture?  If the former, is there a 
barrier to doing so?  How can a SemWeb approach help?

"What is needed in addition is a way to incorporate unambiguous, rich 
semantics into the various semi-formal notations underlying methods 
like the UML."  Although I get that rich semantics will assist in 
implementing consistency checking, the document has not told me why 
this is so important.

(3.1 Ontologies as Formal Model Specs...)

"the amenable syntax of Semantic Web languages" is a value judgment and 
should be avoided.

"the universality of the Semantic Web's XML ancestry" - Hmmmm.  This 
seems to conflict with the W3C's official (and unofficial) positioning 
of the Semantic Web.

I think the document could benefit from a stronger analysis of why OWL 
should be the ontological language of choice.  "Because it is ours" 
probably isn't the reason.

(3.2 The Semantic Web in Systems and Software Engineering)

The document says that consensus is forming around two definitions.  
Why is this so?  What are the pros and cons or tradeoffs or 
directionality differences between these two definitions?  Similarly, 
the terms "Passive" and "Active" are defined, but not used.  Why are 
these definitions valuable?

(3.3 A Corpus of Reusable Content...)

Who else has discussed the use of the Semantic Web as a relational 
database?  Some references would be useful.  This comment goes for 
other parts of the document, too.

The first bullet ("Semantic Web technologies could be used to formalise 
associations between sub-components within a given system") seems to 
belong in 3.2 instead of 3.3.

It would be good to reference some of the ongoing work in regard to Web 
Services/SemWeb integration.

(4.  Previous Experience)

I expected more from this section than a marketing push.  I do not 
think that the Semantic Web can rely on the history of the Web to 
ensure its success.

(5. Issues)

What is being done to address these issues?  Do any of the issues 
appear to be a long-term problem for the uses you are suggesting?

See Jennifer Golbeck's work on Trust 
(http://www.mindswap.org/~golbeck/).


NITS
----

(2.1 Composition and Reuse)

s/systems building block/system building blocks/

s/culminated/which culminated/

(3.2 The Semantic Web in Systems and Software Engineering)

s/Software'/Software/

The bullets for the "Passive" and "Active" definitions should be 
indented once more.


Regards,
Dave
Received on Wednesday, 2 March 2005 22:26:20 GMT

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