Over the years I have created and worked with ontologies in a diverse broad of domains. Amongst them water management, food safety, construction and education. I am not exactly an expert on these particular domains..I build ontologies. So for a detailed description of a particular domain, only subject matter experts (SME) know exactly how to describe the Things. When it comes to arranging the taxonomy tree and describing the concept relations we have to work together. Usually the SME’s are not educated in OWL programming and here is the issue that I want to address in this post: we need an instrument that helps us to understand what we mean!
Object Oriented information analysts normally use UML as an instrument to model and communicate with SMEs. The obvious thing to do would be using UML for modelling and transform the UML model into OWL. Actually, this is not as easy as it seems. This issue has been a subject of many research projects. The OMG itself has drawn an Ontology Definition Metamodel but this has not been widely adopted by OWL software development vendors.
OWL modellers often use the graph model to illustrate what has been modelled. This kind of illustration does not allow for depiction of constructs that are a bit more more complex than class – relation – class. Graphical modelling of RDFS could be done like this, but when it comes to OWL you really need an instrument that can illustrate more complex constructs like cardinality, transitivity and the like.
There is a tool that can help out here, it is called Fluent Editor. It is from Cognitum. I have known this product for a couple of years, and loved it. Now comes the even better news.. the developers of Fluent Editor (FE) have added many fantastic new features recently that you just have to see.
So what exactly is FE?
FE is an ontology development tool that works with natural language. You enter the body of knowledge into FE via Controlled Natural Language (CNL), and in the background FE parses these sentences into OWL! Everybody understands CNL, since it is very close to natural language, yet structured. ..so gone is the communication gap between SME’s and the OWL modeller.
This is how the editor looks (click to enlarge).
Plus: FE has a reasoning engine that everybody can understand. You enter natural language in the interface and in the background FE executes DL or RL reasoning to present the results in natural language. (click image to enlarge)
OWL modellers do not have to be disappointed that they are put out of a job..of course the OWL that is generated has to be verified by them, and to support this FE has a number of features:
- complex expressions (e.g. value partitions, disjoint )
- modal expressions (must, should, can and their negations)
- OWL/XML notation preview
- RDF/XML notation preview
- syncing with Protégé (click image to enlarge)
- integration with R for, amongst others, drawing the ontology graph
- connecting to Ontorion server (which is the collaborative version)
I can only say…..you have to check it out and you will be surprised by the capabilities of the product.