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Re: SW Graphical Notation

From: Holger Knublauch <holger@knublauch.com>
Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2013 17:29:28 +1000
Message-ID: <51CFDE58.8030707@knublauch.com>
To: semantic-web@w3.org
On 6/30/2013 4:51, Michael F Uschold wrote:
> I agree that it is probably too early to have a standard, we should 
> first have some good candidates that have been used for a while and 
> think about standards afterwards.
> Note that there is a big difference between a graphical tool for 
> authoring vs. purely visualizing.  Tools for the latter normally use a 
> lot of automation to get good layouts and there is usually no attempt 
> to completely show all the axioms which are needed for authoring. 
>  There are a lot of tools for visualizing, but they all have major 
> shortcomings, and none are very adequate overall.
> I am not aware of any commercial tools that are widely available and 
> in use for authoring OWL.   I used a tool from Cerebra some years ago, 
> but they were acquired by Web Methods and that tool is not available. 
>  It may be getting use in house.  Gary Ng was one of the developers. 
>  Sandpiper Software has been preparing one for a while called the 
> Visual Ontology Modeller, but it does not yet seem to be available for 
> purchase on their web site.
> My colleague at Semantic Arts, Simon Robe, gave a short talk at 
> SemTech in S.F. a few weeks ago about *Graphically Authoring OWL 
> Ontologies in Microsoft Visio.*   He developed a tool we use in house 
> for authoring OWL enterprise ontologies for large companies.  If 
> printed out using a plotter and put on a wall, they would be about ten 
> feet high and anywhere from ten to twenty feed wide.
> *
> *
> I have been using this tool for  the last few years and find it very 
> convenient.  While there are pros and cons, I have come to much prefer 
> the graphical authoring approach compared to using tools like Protégé 
> or Topbraid Composer.  So I author using our Visio plugin and use 
> Protégé and/or Topbraid Composer mainly for viewing and querying in 
> SPARQL.   It is not for sale at this time, but it freely available to 
> our clients.

Hi Michael,

are you aware that TopBraid Composer's Diagram tab is also editable, see


(it used to be a pure viewer until mid 2012). The notation we use there 
is close to UML and should therefore be familiar to most users. I 
definitely wouldn't claim it's perfect - we never invested enough time 
on this kind graphical editing, because it is limited to certain 
scenarios only: Graphical notations IMHO cannot scale to editing large 
ontologies and - as you state - cannot efficiently capture all semantic 
constructs of OWL (or SPIN or whatever). However, this kind of 
visualization is useful to get quick overviews of ontologies that have 
been given to you, and are good to create outlines that are later 
refined with form-based editing. TBC users can switch back and forth 
between the two notations, because the diagrams are generated on the fly 
from the current context.


>  The original goal was to have a format for showing our clients their 
> enterprise ontologies in a way that offered much greater than epsilon 
> probability that they could understand what was going on without a lot 
> of formal training.  We have had some success with this with the more 
> technically oriented folk.  We have developed a variety of other 
> techniques for explaining and socializing enterprise ontologies that 
> we use.  Some of this is described in an invited talk (In the Trenches 
> with Enterprise Ontology 
> <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbR8UzlF9B8>) I gave in Galway in 
> October 2012 at the European Knowledge Acquisition Workshop.
> Michael
> ABSTRACT: Graphically Authoring Ontologies in OWL
> This tool supports drag-and-drop stencil-based OWL ontology 
> development and is intended to complement existing IDE-style ontology 
> editors such as Protégé. Our goal was for the diagramming notation to 
> be sufficiently compact and intuitive to allow the review of 
> ontologies with subject matter experts after only fifteen minutes of 
> training in the conventions. The tool has been successfully used to 
> author and review several large and complex enterprise ontologies. It 
> has also proved valuable as a simple and intuitive training tool for 
> new ontologists. The demo will show the creation, serialization and 
> validation of an OWL ontology from within the familiar Microsoft Visio 
> environment using the e6tOWL toolset. -
> On Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 10:36 AM, Daniel Schwabe 
> <dschwabe@inf.puc-rio.br <mailto:dschwabe@inf.puc-rio.br>> wrote:
>     Dear all,
>     I agree with Peter's statement. Regarding graphical notations, I
>     would like to call everybody's attention to the work of Daniel
>     Moody [1], an excellent work setting the foundations of why, what
>     and how graphical notations can be helpful. It should certainly be
>     taken into account if such a notation should be proposed, but I
>     also agree that at the current stage it is still more a research
>     problem than a standardization problem.
>     [1] Daniel L. Moody: The “Physics” of Notations: Toward a
>     Scientific Basis for Constructing Visual Notations in Software
>     Engineering. IEEE Trans. Software Eng. 35(6): 756-779 (2009). Pdf
>     at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=05353439.
>     On Jun 28, 2013, at 01:39  - 28/06/13, "Peter F. Patel-Schneider"
>     <pfpschneider@gmail.com <mailto:pfpschneider@gmail.com>> wrote:
>>     I'm having trouble understanding the purpose of having a
>>     common/accepted visual representation of an ontology.  Would this
>>     representation help in standardizing ontologies?  Would it help
>>     in transmitting ontologies?  Would tools be required to consume it?
>>     This is not to say that there is not a pressing need for more
>>     ontology visualization tools.  On the contrary, every time I look
>>     at ontologies of any size, I become depressed at how bad ontology
>>     visualization tools are.  (Of course, what I want is to see just
>>     what I need to see, arranged in just the way that makes it
>>     easiest for me to understand aspects of the ontology that I
>>     understand.)  This seems to point out a need for research, not
>>     standardization, however.
>>     Peter F. Patel-Schneider
>>     On Jun 27, 2013, at 8:39 PM, Renato Iannella
>>     <ri@semanticidentity.com <mailto:ri@semanticidentity.com>> wrote:
>>>     RDF/OWL have well-defined technical encodings (xml, turtle, etc)
>>>     but there is no such common/accepted representation for a
>>>     graphical notation.
>>>     That is, a visual representation of an ontology that captures
>>>     (graphically) all the semantics of RDF/OWL.
>>>     I have collected a few examples of various graphical notations
>>>     here: http://www.w3.org/wiki/SemWebGraphicalNotation
>>>     Is there any interest from members of the SWIG to look at this
>>>     in more detail, and potentially propose such graphical notation
>>>     for RDF/OWL?
>>>     (This could be via this IG or a new Community Group.)
>>>     Cheers...
>>>     Renato Iannella
>>>     Semantic Identity
>>>     http://semanticidentity.com <http://semanticidentity.com/>
>>>     Mobile: +61 4 1313 2206 <tel:%2B61%204%201313%202206>
>     []s
>     D
Received on Sunday, 30 June 2013 07:30:08 UTC

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