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Last modified: August 15, 2008
(XML) Topic Maps


A topic map is a kind of index or information overlay which can be constructed separate from a set of resources, identifying instances of subjects and relationships within the set of resources. According to the XML Topic Maps (XTM) 1.0 TopicMaps.Org Specification, "The purpose of a topic map is to convey knowledge about resources through a superimposed layer, or map, of the resources. A topic map captures the subjects of which resources speak, and the relationships between subjects, in a way that is implementation-independent. The key concepts in topic maps are topics, associations, and occurrences. A topic is a resource within the computer that stands in for (or 'reifies') some real-world subject. Examples of such subjects might be the play Hamlet, the playwright William Shakespeare, or the 'authorship' relationship. Topics can have names. They can also have occurrences, that is, information resources that are considered to be relevant in some way to their subject. Finally, topics can participate in relationships, called associations, in which they play roles as members. Thus, topics have three kinds of characteristics: names, occurrences, and roles played as members of associations. The assignment of such characteristics is considered to be valid within a certain scope, or context. Topic maps can be merged. Merging can take place at the discretion of the user or application (at runtime), or may be indicated by the topic map's author at the time of its creation."

Principal Specifications

Key Reference Sites and Documents

Other References

  • Home of SC34/WG3, Information Association.

  • TopicMaps.Org Consortium

  • Topic Navigation Maps - A collection of references from 1994-1999, still relevant for the most part as of 2000-06.

  • [August 06, 2008] Information technology — Topic Maps — Constraint Language (TMCL). Text for ISO/IEC FCD 19756. Supersedes document SC 34 N668. Date: 2008-08-07. 40 pages. Copyright © ISO/IEC 2008. Issued by the JISC Secretariat, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 IPSJ/ITSCJ (Information Processing Society of Japan/Information Technology Standards Commission of Japan). ISO/IEC 19756 was prepared by Joint Technical Committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information technology, Subcommittee SC 34, Document Description and Processing Languages. Posted by Toshiko KIMURA (IPSJ/ITSCJ). Not an ISO International Standard; distributed for review and comment. The specification makes use of the Topic Map Data Model namespace [%prefix tm] See the reference page for ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 N1053: "In accordance with Resolution 6 adopted at the SC 34 Plenary meeting held in Kyoto, Japan, 2007-12-08/11 (SC 34 N 968), this document is circulated to the SC 34 members for a four-monthn FCD ballot. SC 34 members are requested to vote/comment via the CIB as soon as possible but not later than 2008-12-08.

    "The TMCL specification defines a means to express and evaluate constraints on topic maps conforming to the Topic Map Data Model (TMDM). It defines a data model for representing constraints on instances of the topic map data model and the formal semantics for the interpretation of different constraint types. This International Standard expresses constraints using topic map constructs and the interpretation of these constraints as TMQL. In addition, This International Standard defines a number of CTM templates to faciliate the construction of TMCL constraints. TMCL constraints are represented as topic map structures using the TMDM. Any syntax that can be used to create TMDM structures is a valid authoring syntax for TMCL constraints and therefor no special syntax is defined. The formal semantics of TMCL constraints are defined using TMQL... TMCL defines constraint types and an interpretation for instances of those types. The interpretation indicates in an unambiguous fashion what it means for an instance of a given constraint type to be evaluated as true or false in the context of a TMDM instance. The TMCL constraint types are defined in terms of the topic map data model. The formal interpretation of each constraint type is defined using TMQL. All constraint types defined follow a common pattern. They are all defined as subtypes of the topic type called 'Constraint'. They all have an occurrence of type 'validation expression'. It is possible to define new constraint types that address specific domain requirements while still fitting into the overall TMCL validation framework. The constraint types defined in TMCL are intended for use in a entity constraint language fashion, such as ERM, UML etc. They are intended to be used to define the set of identities, occurrences, names and played association roles that a topic of a given type must have in order to been deemed valid e.g. topics of type person must have one unscoped name and be related to one other topic of type person who is their mother. The generalised constraint model, that of constraint and validation expression, is intended to facilitate map wide constraints that are not centered on one particular type. E.g. If a person works in department X then they must also be the author of at least 5 research papers..." [archive/cache]

  • [May 21, 2008] [ISO] CD 13250-1, Information technology — Topic Maps — Part 1: Overview and Basic Concepts. ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34. ISO/IEC 13250-1 was prepared by Joint Technical Committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information Technology, Subcommittee SC 34, Document Description and Processing Languages. See associated document with Reference number: ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 N 1045.

    "The topic maps standards enable users to answer two fundamental questions: (1) When are two or more speakers talking about the same subject? (subject identity); (2) How to gather all the information about a subject in one place? (co-location). Examples of where topic maps have been used include: [A] Navigational tools such as indexes, cross-references, citation systems, or glossaries for information systems; [B] Thesaurus-like interfaces to corpora, knowledge bases, etc. [C] Views of information systems that are filtered on the basis of language, security criteria, or any other useful basis [D] Providing unstructured information resources the appearance of structure for navigation or for use with other structured information resources [E] Providing context for subjects and relationships between subjects [where] context can be used to address the polysemy problem faced by WWW search engines.

    In order to have interchangeable answers to the questions of subject identity and co-location, the topic maps standards specify an XML syntax and processing model that standardizes a representations of subjects (topics), relationships between subjects (associations) and information about those subjects (occurrences). Beyond the basic syntax and data model, alternative representations (syntaxes) are also defined along with query and constraint languages. Every choice of how to identify a subject and the basis for co-location of necessity excludes other, equally valid choices to answer those questions. To enable the future development of other interchangeable answers to those questions, a model with minimal ontological commitments that specifies a path language for the query and contraint language is also defined. Topic maps, at their best, represent a user's knowledge of a domain. As such, they can capture human judgments about the identity of subjects, relationships between subjects, as well as other nuances that escape the notice of non-human systems..."

  • [July 17, 2008] Topic Maps Query Language. ISO/IEC FCD 18048, Information technology — Topic Maps — Query Language (TMQL). By Lars Marius Garshol and Robert Barta (project editors). 2008-07-15. 51 pages. Memo to P, O and L members of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34. "In accordance with Resolution 6 adopted at the SC 34 Plenary meeting held in Kyoto, Japan, 2007-12-08/11 (SC 34 N 968), this document is circulated to the SC 34 members for an FCD ballot for a four-month period. P-members of SC 34 are requested to vote via the CIB as soon as possible but not later than 2008-11-17." An announcement issued by Toshiko Kimura for the Secretariat of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 (IPSJ/ITSCJ - Information Processing Society of Japan/Information Technology Standards Commission of Japan) reports on the public release of the FCD Ballot text for Topic Maps Query Language [TMQL]. ISO/IEC 18048 was prepared by Joint Technical Committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information Technology, Subcommittee SC 34, Document Description and Processing Languages. "This [FCD] International Standard defines a query language for Topic Maps known as TMQL (Topic Maps Query Language). The draft was informed by 'Topic Map Query Language, Use Cases' and 'TMQL Requirements', and is submitted for review for interested parties... The document defines a formal language for accessing information organized according to the Topic Maps paradigm. This document specifies syntactic rules to form valid query expressions to extract information from a Topic Maps instance and also provides an informal and a formal semantics for every syntactic form. To constrain the interaction and information flow between a querying application and a TMQL query processor (short: processor) this International Standard also describes an abstract processing environment, loosely defines the passing of parameters into the query process and the exchange of result values. This environment also includes a minimal, predefined set of functions and operators every conformant processor must provide. This International Standard does not define an API (application programming interface) to interact with query processors and also refrains from naming certain error conditions. It also remains silent on other implementation issues, such as optimization or error recovery..." [cache]

  • [May 21, 2008] Topic Maps Reference Model. 13250-5 FCD. [Topic Maps — Reference Model — ISO 13250-5.] Edited by Patrick Durusau, Steve Newcomb, and Robert Barta. May 16, 2008. 17 pages. Announcement posted 2008-05-20 by Toshiko Kimura. 'Circulated to P- and O-members, and to technical committees and organizations in liaison... please vote and comment via the CIB on the ISO/TC server by 2008-09-19.' Source: Project editor: Mr. Robert BARTA, Dr. Patrick DURUSAU, Dr. Steven R. NEWCOMB. Project: JTC 1.34.13250-5 Status: In accordance with Resolution 6 of the SC 34 plenary meeting held in Kyoto, Japan, 2007-12-08/11, this text is circulated to the SC 34 members for FCD ballot. SC 34 members are requested to vote and comment via the CIB on the ISO/TC server by the due date.

    From the Introduction: "The Topic Maps family of standards is designed to facilitate the gathering of all the information about a subject at a single location. The information about a subject includes its relationships to other subjects; such relationships may also be treated as subjects (subject-centric). ISO/IEC 13250-2 (TMDM, Topic Maps Data Model) provides a foundation for syntaxes and notations, such as those defined in ISO/IEC 13250-3 Topic Maps XML Syntax and ISO/IEC 13250-4 Topic Maps Canonicalization. Of necessity, the TMDM makes ontological commitments in terms of how particular subjects are identified (topics, associations, occurrences), what properties are required, the tests to be used to determine whether two or more proxies represent the same subject, and other matters. This Standard defines TMRM (Topic Maps Reference Model), which is more abstract and has fewer ontological commitments. Its purpose is to serve as a minimal, conceptual foundation for subject-centric data models such as the TMDM, and to supply ontologically neutral terminology for disclosing these. It defines what is required to enable the mapping of different subject-centric data models together to meet the overall goal of the Topic Maps standards, that each subject has a single location for all the information about it. TMRM also provides a formal foundation for related Topic Maps standards such as ISO/IEC 18048 Topic Maps Query Language (TMQL) and ISO/IEC 19756 Topic Maps Constraint Language (TMCL)."

    See the associated document with Reference ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 N 1043 (supersedes document N939): Text for FCD 13250-5, Information technology -- Document Description and Processing Languages -- Topic Maps -- Part 5: Reference Model. Its Introductory note: "The NWI ballot was conducted as N358 and its Summary of voting was circulated as N388. The CD ballot was conducted as N594 and its summary of voting is contained in N618. The disposition of comments was held during the WG 3 meeting in Amsterdam, and its meeting notes is contained in N643. The second CD ballot was conducted as N710 and its summary of voting is contained in N739. The disposition of comments is contained in N769. The revised CD texts were circulated as N879, N886 and N939, In accordance with Resolution 6 of the SC 34 plenary meeting held in Kyoto, Japan, 2007-12-08/11, this text is circulated to the SC 34 members for FCD ballot. SC 34 members are requested to vote and comment via the CIB on the ISO/TC server by the due date." [canonical source]

  • [May 23, 2006] "Towards the Semantic Superhighway: A Manifesto for Published Subjects." By Steve Pepper (Ontopia; Oslo, NORWAY). Presented at the Workshop "Identity, Reference, and the Web: Architecture and Philosophy of the Web" (Edinburgh, Scotland; May 23, 2006). Co-Chairs Pat Hayes (Institute for Human and Machine Cognition), Harry Halpin (University of Edinburgh), and Henry S. Thompson (World Wide Web Consortium and University of Edinburgh). Wiki page. See also the presentation slides [cache]. "This paper describes the need for a simple mechanism for defining and assigning unique global identifiers for arbitrary subjects on the World Wide Web in order to solve the problem of information overload. It presents the case for Published Subjects and published subject indicators (PSIs) being the best solution to this problem, and briefly characterizes the strengths and weaknesses of alternative approaches. It ends with a call to action... The basic principles of PSIs are thus extremely simple: A PSI is simply a URL that is defined (and published) for the express purpose of serving as an identifier and that resolves to a document that in some way describes or 'indicates' the subject that it identifies. The first major advantage of PSIs is that the concept is easy to explain. In addition, PSIs extend current practice rather than promote an entirely new paradigm: URLs are already well understood as identifiers for documents, and they have been used as identifiers for arbitrary subjects in a number of communities (including those of the Semantic Web and Topic Maps) for several years. This means that there already exists a very large number of identifiers that are URLs. All that needs to be done in order to turn these into PSIs is to create subject indicators to which they resolve. In many cases this can be done automatically, using existing information resources, such as definitions. Furthermore, existing systems of (non-global) identifiers can easily (often authomatically) be turned into PSIs by prefixing an existing alpha or numeric code with a namespace URI based on an internet domain and an (optional) subject domain component..." [source]

  • [August 13, 2005] "Untangle Your Information: Four Steps to Integrating Knowledge with Topic Maps." Technical White Paper. Prepared by Innodata Isogen. August 10, 2005. 12 pages. "For years, organizations have sought to improve the way they share information and knowledge with employees, partners and customers. But the platforms that exist to deliver such content — Web sites and corporate databases — are not designed to support or facilitate an integrated knowledge management strategy. As a result, this goal has remained somewhat elusive for many organizations. Moreover, many companies have yet to fully resolve the challenge of integrating data and knowledge from disparate software systems, although the adoption of standards has made it easier to combine content from different platforms and software applications. For example: (1) Network standards have solved the physical issues of connecting different computing systems. (2) Internet protocol standards have made the integration of disparate platforms transparent and seamless. (3) Web standards have allowed information to be shared among people using a wide variety of tools. XML, for example, has made large amounts of data accessible to a variety of systems. But when large volumes of data become more accessible, the process invariably runs into the problem of how to convey knowledge about the content and the interrelationships between its individual elements. New knowledge-sharing standards, such as topic maps, address this challenge and are now emerging as a viable approach for organizations seeking to find a better way to share, interpret and respond to the wealth of information now available. By allowing enterprises to represent the knowledge stored in a wide variety of applications, topic maps not only enable different applications to share information, but also the intrinsic metadata describing that information. In this paper, we will examine these challenges, detail four steps for implementing topic maps and examine several real-world applications: [1] Locate the sources of knowledge within your organization; [2] Capture critical knowledge, then evolve and refine the model; [3] Integrate knowledge-driven applications with topic maps; [4] Migrate legacy data into the knowledge base..." See also the webinar series associated with this White Paper, presented by Dan Dube and Chris Hill (September 7, 2005). Also: "Exploiting Topic Maps as a Corporate Knowledge Model" (Co-presented by Innodata Isogen and Ontopia; September 14, 2005) and "Best Practices in Topic Map Applications for European Government" (Co-presented by Innodata Isogen and TEMIS, September 21, 2005).

  • [May 24, 2005] "An OWL DL Construction for the ISO Topic Map Data Model." By Anne Cregan (Artificial Intelligence Group, School of Computer Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales Australia). Amsterdam Conference Paper. "Both Topic Maps and the W3C Semantic Web technologies are meta-level semantic maps describing relationships between information resources. Previous attempts at interoperability between XTM Topic Maps and RDF have proved problematic. The ISO's drafting of an explicit Topic Map Data Model combined with the advent of the W3C's XML and RDFbased Description Logic-equivalent Web Ontology Language now provides the means for the construction of an unambiguous semantic model to represent Topic Maps, in a form that is equivalent to a Description Logic representation. This paper describes the construction of the proposed TMDM ISO Topic Map Standard in OWL DL (Description Logic equivalent) form. The construction is claimed to exactly match the features of the proposed TMDM. The intention is that the topic map constructs described herein, once officially published on the world-wide web, may be used by Topic Map authors to construct their Topic Maps in OWL DL. The advantage of OWL DL Topic Map construction over XTM, the existing XML-based DTD standard, is that OWL DL allows many constraints to be explicitly stated. OWL DL's suite of tools, although currently still somewhat immature, will provide the means for both querying and enforcing constraints. This goes a long way towards fulfilling the requirements for a Topic Map Query Language (TMQL) and Constraint Language (TMCL), which the Topic Map Community may choose to expend effort on extending. Additionally, OWL DL has a clearly defined formal semantics..." [source .PDF]

  • [March 29, 2005]   W3C Releases Survey of RDF/Topic Maps Interoperability Proposals Working Draft.    An initial public working draft from the W3C RDF/Topic Maps Interoperability Task Force (RDFTM) presents A Survey of RDF/Topic Maps Interoperability Proposals. This specification, initiated by the W3C Semantic Web Best Practices and Deployment Working Group (SWBPD) with the support of the ISO Topic Maps Committee (ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34), is part of the W3C Semantic Web Activity. The document "contains a survey of existing proposals for integrating RDF and Topic Maps data and is intended to be a starting point for establishing standard guidelines for RDF/Topic Maps interoperability." The W3C Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a model developed by the W3C for representing information about resources in the World Wide Web. Topic Maps, a project of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34, is a standard for knowledge [representation and] integration, developed by ISO. The primary goal of this W3C endeavor is to "achieve interoperability between RDF and Topic Maps at the data level. This means that it should be possible to translate data from one form to the other without unacceptable loss of information or corruption of the semantics. It should also be possible to query the results of a translation in terms of the target model and it should be possible to share vocabularies across the two paradigms." According to the Background statement for the Working Draft, the RDF and Topic Maps specifications "were developed in parallel during the late 1990's within their separate organizations for what at first appeared to be very different purposes. The results, however, turned out to have a lot in common and this has led to calls for their unification." While unification of RDF and Topic Maps has to date "not been possible, for a variety of technical and political reasons, a number of attempts have been made to uncover the synergies between RDF and Topic Maps and to find ways of achieving interoperability at the data level. There is now widespread recognition within the respective user communities that achieving such interoperability is a matter of some urgency. Work has therefore been initiated by the Semantic Web Best Practices and Deployment Working Group of the W3C with the support of the ISO Topic Maps committee to address this issue." This Working Draft "consists of a summary and analysis of the major existing proposals for achieving data interoperability between RDF and Topic Maps. RDF-Schema and OWL are considered relevant to this work to the extent that the classes and properties they define are supportive of its goals. However, it is explicity not a goal of the current work to enable the general use of RDF Schema and OWL with Topic Maps, although this issue may be addressed later.

  • [February 02, 2005] "An Introduction to TMAPI." By Robert Barta and Oliver Leimig. From (February 02, 2005). "There are several software packages for Java developers when they need to develop applications using XML Topic Maps. There are some proprietary software vendors and also open source packages like TM4j, tinyTIM, and a few others. In the Java tradition to standardize interfaces, the TMAPI project has proposed a set of Java interfaces which particular Topic Map implementations may choose to adhere to. The obvious advantage for the application developer is to use only that single set of interfaces and to choose a particular implementation on other merits. There is a strong coherence between TMAPI and the class model behind TMDM, the TM data model. This, of course, is no coincidence: both have been developed in lock-step. The result is that Java developers are programming close to the (high-level) TM model. This article gives a fast-lane introduction to creating and restoring information using TMAPI. This tutorial is a spin-off of our efforts to create a TMAPI-compliant AsTMa parser; we have no affiliation with the TMAPI project itself... Java developers will find the interface simple enough to be used right away, as was the case for our project. TMAPI covers the building of Topic Map structures in memory and offers also means to navigate through such a structure in a standardized way. Other features like transaction management, application-controlled merging (when and how), or persistency issues (how and where a topic map is stored) are outside the TMAPI scope and have to be dealt with by particular implementations. Also not part of TMAPI (yet) is a high-level query language. This may change once TMQL is finished..." General references in: "(XML) Topic Maps."

  • [April 09, 2004]   TMAPI 1.0 Alpha Release: Common Topic Map Application Programming Interface.    A first major public release of TMAPI has been made available from the project's SourceForge website. TMAPI is a "proposed programming interface for accessing and manipulating data held in a topic map. The TMAPI specification defines a set of core interfaces which must be implemented by a compliant application as well as a set of additional interfaces which may be implemented by a compliant application or which may be built upon the core interfaces." According to the project announcement of April 8, 2004, the goal of TMAPI is "to allow developers to learn and use just one programming API for work with any topic map processing engine — improving code portability and reducing learning curve. TMAPI has been developed in an open process by developers working on topic map processors and topic map applications, and has been placed into the public domain; there are no restrictions on its use." Motivation for the TMAPI development effort is provided on the project home page: "[Though] commercial and non-commercial topic map processing applications are available, each of these applications has a different programming interface, reflecting the slightly different ideas that each developer has had about the best way to represent the information in a topic map. For an application developer, this leads to non-portable code; the need to learn a new API for every topic map implementation he or she uses and the lack of a community of supporting developers. TMAPI hopes to do for topic maps what SAX and DOM did for XML: provide a single common API which all developers can code to and which means that their applications can be moved from one underlying platform to another with minimum fuss."

  • [April 09, 2004] "Response to N0497 'Analysis of RM Use Cases'." By Steven R. Newcomb and Patrick Durusau. ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34, N0498. Project: WD 13250-5: Information Technology - Document Description and Processing Languages, Topic Maps - Reference Model. Informational. "The Pepper/Garshol reading of the TMRM (Topic Maps Reference Model) use cases as procedural questions, rather than as examples of situations requiring declarative disclosures, highlights the insufficiency of the TMDM (Topic Maps Data Model) and its related syntax/procedure based components in addressing the central unanswered question in Topic Maps. That central unanswered question is: How does a topic map declares its approach to the problem of reflecting the "territory" of which it is a "map"? More specifically: How does a topic map declare exactly how its topics identify their subjects? No topic maps standard has yet been adopted that provides any generalized means for specifying arbitrary bases for the recognition of subject identity. This omission has been masked by the Topic Maps community's invention, on an ad hoc, basis, of whatever approaches were needed for subject identity recognition, and its use of such ad hoc approaches to inform the designs of any subject-oriented processes that are implemented in their software...In the absence of clear guidance from the adopted standards, the ad hoc approach that the community took was appropriate, reasonable, necessary, wise, and helpful to the cause of Topic Maps. But these historical facts do not make the omission of a standard way to disclose the basis for subject identity from the revision of ISO 13250 a virtue, nor do they make a virtue of allowing XTM, TMDM, TMCL, and TMQL to fail to provide for disclosing subject identity. It is in the best interests of the topic maps community and our users that these omissions be corrected in any future edition of 13250..."

  • [April 07, 2004] "Analysis of TMRM Use Cases." By Steve Pepper and Lars Marius Garshol. ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34, N0497. Project: WD 13250-5: Information Technology — Document Description and Processing Languages, Topic Maps — Reference Mode. Informational. "In N423 (Recommendations of May 2003 Meeting of WG3) the editors of the Topic Maps Reference Model (TMRM) were instructed to prepare a user requirements document for the TMRM. The goal was to enable WG3 to arrive at a common understanding of the purpose of the TMRM, in order to better assess the relevance and value of the drafts of the TMRM that have so far been presented. N490 (Topic Maps — Reference Model Use Cases) is the editors' response. This document is a very valuable contribution to the discussion and we thank the authors for the effort that they have put into it. Now that the editors of the TMRM have described the kinds of business problems that the TMRM is intended to address, it becomes much easier to evaluate the need for such a reference model and determine the extent to which the current draft of the TMRM (N460) meets that need. Our first reaction upon reading N490 was that it did not appear to contain any requirements that could not be met by the Topic Maps Data Model and a query language such as TMQL (Topic Maps Query Language, ISO 18048). If that is the case, then N490 in and of itself cannot be regarded as justification for the TMRM: The purpose of a Use Cases document is to identify User Requirements that justify the development of a new standard. If the User Requirements revealed by the Use Cases can already be met by existing or planned standards, there is no justification for a new standard. This paper was written in order to test our initial hypothesis by evaluating each use case in N490 in order to determine whether or not it can be satisfied using existing or planned standards (i.e., the TMDM, TMQL and/or TMCL). It does not attempt to assess the extent to which the current draft of the TMRM meets the requirements identified through the use cases in N490..."

  • [March 24, 2004] "Metadata? Thesauri? Taxonomies? Topic Maps! Making Sense Of It All." By Lars Marius Garshol (Development Manager, Ontopia). March 24, 2004. Ontopia Technical Report. "To be faced with a document collection and not to be able to find the information you know exists somewhere within it is a problem as old as the existence of document collections. Information Architecture is the discipline dealing with the modern version of this problem: how to organize web sites so that users actually can find what they are looking for. Information architects have so far applied known and well-tried tools from library science to solve this problem, and now topic maps are sailing up as another potential tool for information architects. This raises the question of how topic maps compare with the traditional solutions, and that is the question this paper attempts to address. The paper argues that topic maps go beyond the traditional solutions in the sense that it provides a framework within which they can be represented as they are, but also extended in ways which significantly improve information retrieval... this paper tries to show that topic maps provide a common reference model that can be used to explain how to understand many common techniques from library science and information architecture. It also shows how these techniques can be implemented using topic maps, and how topic maps can go far beyond the possibilities provided by traditional techniques. By using topic maps to represent metadata and subject-based classification it is possible to reuse existing classifications and classification techniques, while at the same time describing the world more precisely where desired..."

  • [March 20, 2004] "Topic Maps — Reference Model Use Cases." Version 2.7, 2004-03-20. ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34, N0490. Edited by Patrick Durusau and Steven R. Newcomb. Informational. Project: WD 13250-5: Information Technology — Topic Maps — Reference Model. "The following use cases have been developed to guide the discussion of requirements for the Topic Maps Reference Model (TMRM). There has been extensive work on and discussion of the both topic maps and TMRM and this document is written against that background... Currently ISO 13250 provides no abstract model of topic maps. The situation is analogous to the path not taken in the early development of airplanes. Without the underlying model that guided the design of the Wrights' airplane, others could copy their work, making airplanes that, like the Wright's flyer, would really fly — but only for a few hundred meters. The development of airplanes for diverse practical purposes required a general model of the dynamics of powered flight — one that could form a basis on which many problems could have many creative solutions. Similarly, the first interchange syntaxes and processing models for topic maps have guided the construction of topic maps that really work. However, by themselves, these syntaxes and processing models provide an inadequate basis for creating and using diverse solutions to the evolving problems confronted by those who create, manage and use human knowledge. The existing interchange syntaxes and processing models for topic maps reflect particular approaches to the identification of subjects — specific techniques for determining when two or more topics represent the same subject. Both ISO 13250 and the proposed revisions of it concede that their interchange syntaxes and processing models can be extended, but they provide no guidance for modeling or meaningfully disclosing those extensions, such that meaningful construction and interchange of such topic maps are possible. In the absence of an abstract model for topic maps, it is not possible for vendors and users to extend current syntaxes and processing models in a reliable and interchangeable way... The TMRM exposes principles on the basis of which diverse designs for topic maps can be expressed, compared, evaluated, and made to work together. This document describes some use cases in which the TMRM is expected to enable solutions to problems that, in the absence of the TMRM, would be more difficult to solve..."

  • [December 05, 2003] "Web Editor Framework Out of Beta. Ontopia Announces Ontopia Knowledge Suite Release 2.0." - "Ontopia AS, the world's leading vendor of topic map technology, announced Release 2.0 of the Ontopia Knowledge Suite, which will be available from 19 December 2003. This major release of the OKS brings: (1) the full release of the Web Editor Framework for building custom topic map authoring environments; (2) extension of the query language to cover tasks that had required either API programming or use of the Navigator Framework tag libraries, new built-in predicates now allow querying all parts of a topic map; (3) support for import and export of RDF data to topic maps; (4) the popular free-download, Omnigator, now includes support for hierarchy visualization... Steve Pepper, Founder of Ontopia, says 'Now, finally, the Topic Maps community has a real, powerful, flexible tool for editing Topic Maps. Implementations in Norway and the UK are already using the Web Editor Framework to create custom editing environments.' The OKS uses the powerful Topic Maps model to enable the rapid development of complex systems. Using the OKS, integrators can create representations of diverse information and knowledge models, and then access and manipulate them with a common tool set and query language. 'I am really pleased with the new RDF support in OKS 2.0 and Omnigator VII because it finally bridges the gap between these two closely related knowledge technologies, enabling users to easily move data back and forth between topic maps and RDF,' remarked Lars Marius Garshol, Development Manager. 'The most important aspect of the approach we've taken is that it allows users to use the same vocabularies with both RDF and topic maps.' The OKS, a Java toolkit for applying Topic Maps functionality, consists of a topic map engine with scalable API, J2EE-compliant toolkits for development of editing and browsing applications, full-text search, schema tools, persistent and scalable storage of topic maps in an RDBMS..."

  • [December 04, 2003] Topic Map Query Language, Use Cases. By Lars Marius Garshol (Ontopia) and Robert Barta (Bond University). Technical document 2003-12-04. Editors' Draft, TMQL Use Cases. ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 — Information Technology — Document Description and Processing Languages This document is part of the effort to define a standard query language for Topic Maps (TMQL, ISO 18048) and as such describes possible use scenarios from both, an application oriented view, but also more detailed in terms of retrieved topic map content. These use cases are intended to support the evaluation process for individual TMQL proposals... Topic maps have a particular structure as defined by "Topic Map Data Model" (former Standard Application Model, SAM), and more abstractedly by "The Topic Maps Reference Model". In principle it would be possible (and it has been done) to model the content via a relational data model or (using "XML Topic Maps (XTM) 1.0 Specification" as one possible representation) storing it into an XML (enabled) data store. For scalability reasons most TM storage solutions tend to build their own dedicated data models and access technologies. From this point on programming interfaces allow application developers to access part of the map, being for reading or writing. In this sense the abstract model defined by TMDM may play a similar role as DOM for XML based data, at least in the short term. For reasons of minimality, data models such as TMDM have to be limited in the way how particular TM content is identified in a map. A Topic Map Query Language may cut down development costs for particular classes of applications. The language would allow to phrase more global queries viewing the topic map content as a whole and not just as a collection of topics and associations. Additionally such a language could also facilitate the generation of output in formats like XML directly in order to minimize the necessary interaction between the application and the query infrastructure. The following application scenarios and use cases are designed to illustrate the use of a hyperthetical Topic Map query language. They all assume that TM content is stored in an appropriate backend and is retrieved using the query language in a similar way how "SQL: The Standard and the Language" is used for relational data stores. It is also assumed that TMQL can generate output in form of list structures, tree-structured like XML or even complete topic maps..." [source]

  • [December 01, 2003]   ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 Publishes Topic Map Query Language (TMQL) Requirements.    A posting from Lars Marius Garshol announces the publication of a new draft version of TMQL Requirements, defining informal requirements and feature lists for the upcoming ISO standard TMQL (Topic Map Query Language, ISO/IEC 18048). This language "is intended to be a kind of SQL (or XML Query) for topic maps, and will greatly simplify topic map application development by making it much easier to extract information from topic maps." TMQL is being developed by SC34 in connection with TMCL (ISO 19756: Topic Maps Constraint Language) and the multi-part standard ISO/IEC 13250: Topic Maps. This updated TMQL Version 1.2.0 draft supersedes the August 2003 draft version 1.0.0. ISO/IEC 13250-2 (Topic Maps Data Model) defines the abstract structure of topic maps and provides the foundation for TMQL. The revised TMQL requirements draft "reflects the intentions of the Topic Map community regarding a Topic Map retrieval and manipulation language, and contains the consolidated view of the standards editors. It defines the requirements for the TMQL standard as a whole, and for the query aspect of TMQL in particular; additional requirements for the update part of TMQL will be detailed at a later stage." SC34/WG3 ('Information Association') will be meeting for standards work December 6-8, 2003 in Philadelphia, PA, USA. Special attention is being given to the Topic Map specifications, including the ISO 13250 Roadmap and Primer, XTM (XTM Syntax and Specification), TMDM ( Topic Map Data Model), TMCL, Canonical XTM, TMQL, and the Topic Map Reference Model.

  • [November 07, 2003] TMQL Requirements. By Lars Marius Garshol (Ontopia) and Robert Barta (Bond University). ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N0448. Project: ISO 13250. Project editors: Steven R. Newcomb, Michel Biezunski, and Martin Bryan. TMQL Requirements 1.2.0, Draft '07 11 2003' [viz., 2003-11-07] "This document provides informal requirements and feature lists for the upcoming ISO standard TMQL (Topic Map Query Language, ISO/IEC 18048). It reflects the intentions of the Topic Map community regarding a Topic Map retrieval and manipulation language and contains the consolidated view of the standards editors. Herein are defined the requirements for the TMQL standard as a whole, and for the query aspect of TMQL in particular. Additional requirements for the update part of TMQL will be detailed at a later stage. The purpose of this document is to be as explicit as possible about the form and functionality of a Topic Map query language without preempting the discussion process on how particular objectives, goals, and requirements can be achieved. This is regarded as the most effective way to solicit more specific comments from the community. While striving for a maximum of expliciteness, some of the requirements are only implicitly specified through other requirements. In this light the document should not be read as a fully formalized requirements document. Instead, feedback on this document is requested, especially as the targeted lifetime of TMQL related technologies is projected to be at least 15 to 20 years. This document is organized as follows. After some editorial definitions we will define some basic concepts for querying which we will use throughout the rest of the document. These set the stage for requirements of the standardization document and on requirements regarding the language itself." [source]

  • [July 01, 2003] The OASIS Published Subjects Technical Committee was chartered in September 2001 under the name "OASIS Topic Maps Published Subjects Technical Committee" to advance ISO 13250 [ISO/IEC 13250 - Topic Maps] for organizing, retrieving and navigating information resources by specifying recommendations, requirements and best practices for published subjects. See "TopicMaps.Org Consortium Continues Development Efforts within OASIS." The TC name was changed to "OASIS Published Subjects Technical Committee" in October 2004. Examples from the official web site [''] are (1) Published subjects for languages in ISO 639 and (2) Published subjects for countries in ISO 3166. The TC produced a "Committee Specification" version of Published Subjects: Introduction and Basic Requirements OASIS Published Subjects Technical Committee Recommendation, 2003-06-24 [source]:

    "Published Subjects as defined in this Specification provide an open, scaleable, URI-based method of identifying subjects of discourse. They cater for the needs of both humans and applications, and they provide mechanisms for ensuring confidence and trust on the part of users. Published Subjects are therefore expected to be of particular interest to publishers and users of ontologies, taxonomies, classifications, thesauri, registries, catalogues, and directories, and for applications (including agents) that capture, collate or aggregate information and knowledge.

    A subject can be an individual, like Isaac Newton, the apple that fell on his head, or a document (such as this one). It may be a class of individuals, like scientists, fruits, or OASIS specifications. It may also be a more abstract concept like gravity or inevitability. In short, a subject can be any subject of discourse that an author wishes to identify, name, represent, or otherwise make assertions about.

    TC members also produced a proposed DTD [source]. See the note on Vocabulary Management. [Note: the TC was closed in November 2006.]

  • [March 26, 2003] "Topic Maps Model (TMM)." By Steven R. Newcomb, Sam Hunting, Jan Algermissen, and Patrick Durusau. Produced for ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 Information Technology -- Document Description and Processing Languages. March 28, 2003. Editor's Draft, Revision 2.30. Reference: ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N0393. "This International Standard specifies: the information structure of all topic maps; certain common properties of topics, and constraints on the values of those properties; constraints on the definitions of Topic Map Applications; the definition of the term 'fully merged' as it applies to topic maps; and other definitions and specifications that support the foregoing... Topic maps are bodies of information that consist of 'topics', each of which is a surrogate for a single subject. If every topic in a topic map is the only surrogate for its subject, then users can find all information about that subject in a single location. The Topic Maps Model -- the information structure of all topic maps that is defined by this International Standard -- constrains the definitions of Topic Maps Applications in order to enable the achievement of this 'Subject Location Uniqueness Objective [SLUO]'. It specifies a foundation for lossless and uniform treatment of heterogeneous topic map information. The Topic Maps Model meets the following requirements: (1) It enables an unbounded number of different Topic Map Applications to be created and used. (2) It enables metrics to be developed for arbitrary sets of Topic Map Applications. (3) It enables Topic Map Applications to be expressed as topic maps. (4) It enables the conformance of Topic Map Applications to this International Standard to be verified. (5) It enables rigorous specification and auditing of the process whereby an interchangeable topic map is understood as a set of subjects. It enables specification of conventions for referring to members of that set of subjects by referring to components of interchangeable topic maps. (6) It enables determination of whether two topic maps are identical. (7) It facilitates the specification and determination of subject identity by humans, as well as machines. (8) When two or more topic maps are merged automatically, the Topic Maps Model [1] enables the merging process to be consistent across Topic Map Applications and their implementations, and [2] preserves the integrity of the information contained in the merged topic maps in the resulting single topic map..." See also the previous version (1.0).

  • ISO/IEC 13250 Topic Maps. Information Technology, Document Description and Processing Languages. Technologies de l'information -- Cartes topiques. [13250 - First. December 3, 1999. E.] "International Standard ISO/IEC 13250 was prepared by Joint Technical Committee 1 JTC1, Information technology, Subcommittee SC34, Document description and processing languages. Introduction: This International Standard provides a standardized notation for interchangeably representing information about the structure of information resources used to define topics, and the relationships between topics. A set of one or more interrelated documents that employs the notation defined by this International Standard is called a topic map. In general, the structural information conveyed by topic maps includes: (1) groupings of addressable information objects around topics ('occurrences'), and (2) relationships between topics ('associations'). A topic map defines a multidimensional topic space -- a space in which the locations are topics, and in which the distances between topics are measurable in terms of the number of intervening topics which must be visited in order to get from one topic to another, and the kinds of relationships that define the path from one topic to another, if any, through the intervening topics, if any. [NOTE: Two topics may be connected through an association, and they can also be connected by virtue of sharing an occurrence.] In addition, information objects can have properties, as well as values for those properties, assigned to them externally. These properties are called facet types. [NOTE: The word facet can mean one side of a many-sided, polished object, or one segment of a compound eye (e.g., an insect's). Its metaphorical use here captures the idea that a facet is a property of a set of information objects that can be used to create a view of them.] Several topic maps can provide topical structure information about the same information resources. The Topic Maps architecture is designed to facilitate merging topic maps without requiring the merged topic maps to be copied or modified. Because of their extrinsic character, topic maps can be thought of as overlays on, or extensions to, sets of information objects. The base notation of Topic Maps is SGML; an interchangeable topic map always consists of at least one SGML document, and it may include and/or refer to other kinds information resources. A set of information resources that comprise a complete interchangeable topic map can be specified using the 'bounded object set (BOS)' facility defined by the HyTime architecture in ISO/IEC 10744:1997. As the Extensible Markup Language (XML), a World Wide Web Consortium recommendation, is a subset of SGML, as explained in Annex K of SGML (1997), also known as WebSGML, XML can be also used as a base notation for Topic Maps. The topic map notation is defined as an SGML Architecture, and this International Standard takes the form of an architecture definition document expressed in conformance with Normative Annex A.3 of ISO/IEC 10744:1997, the SGML Architectural Form Definition Requirements (AFDR). The formal definition of the topic map notation is expressed as a meta-DTD." Scope: "Topic maps enable multiple, concurrent views of sets of information objects. The structural nature of these views is unconstrained; they may reflect an object oriented approach, or they may be relational, hierarchical, ordered, unordered, or any combination of the foregoing. Moreover, an unlimited number of topic maps may be overlaid on a given set of information resources. Topic maps can be used: (1) To qualify the content and/or data contained in information objects as topics to enable navigational tools such as indexes, cross-references, citation systems, or glossaries. (2) To link topics together in such a way as to enable navigation between them. This capability can be used for virtual document assembly, and for creating thesaurus-like interfaces to corpora, knowledge bases, etc. (3) To filter an information set to create views adapted to specific users or purposes. For example, such filtering can aid in the management of multilingual documents, management of access modes depending on security criteria, delivery of partial views depending on user profiles and/ or knowledge domains, etc. (4) To structure unstructured information objects, or to facilitate the creation of topic-oriented user interfaces that provide the effect of merging unstructured information bases with structured ones. The overlay mechanism of topic maps can be considered as a kind of external markup mechanism, in the sense that an arbitrary structure is imposed on the information without altering its original form. This International Standard does not require or disallow the use of any scheme for addressing information objects. Except for the requirement that topic map documents themselves be expressed using SGML (or WebSGML) and HyTime, using the syntax described herein, neither does it require or disallow the use of any notation used to express information." [cache]

  • [April 01, 2003] "Curing the Web's Identity Crisis: Subject Indicators for RDF." By Steve Pepper and Sylvia Schwab (Ontopia). Ontopia Technical Report. March 2003. "This paper describes the crisis of identity facing the World Wide Web and, in particular, the RDF community. It shows how that crisis is rooted in a lack of clarity about the nature of 'resources' and how concepts developed during the XML Topic Maps effort can provide a solution that works not only for Topic Maps, but also for RDF and semantic web technologies in general... The heart of the matter is the question 'What do URIs identify?' Today there is no consistent answer to this question... [Also:] 'What is a resource?' [...] Why is this important? Because without clarity on this issue, it is impossible to solve the challenge of the Semantic Web, and it is impossible to implement scaleable Web Services. It is impossible to achieve the goals of 'global knowledge federation' and impossible even to begin to enable the aggregation of information and knowledge by human and software agents on a scale large enough to control infoglut. Ontologies and taxonomies will not be reusable unless they are based on a reliable and unambiguous identification mechanism for the things about which they speak. The same applies to classifications, thesauri, registries, catalogues, and directories. Applications (including agents) that capture, collate or aggregate information and knowledge will not scale beyond a closely controlled environment unless the identification problem is solved. And technologies like RDF and Topic Maps that use URIs heavily to establish identity will simply not work (and certainly not interoperate) unless they can rely on unambiguous identifiers... The widely recognized 'identity crisis' of the Web is due to the absence of a formal distinction between information resources and subjects in general. This can be traced back to the definition of 'resource' in RFC 2396. Recognition of the important distinction made in Topic Maps between addressable and non-addressable subjects leads to the notion of subject indicators as an indirection mechanism for establishing the identity of subjects that cannot be addressed directly. This allows URIs to be used in two ways - as subject addresses or as subject identifiers - without ambiguity. Syntactic context can be used to determine which mode is intended in any specific instance. The concept of subject indicators also provides a powerful two-sided identification mechanism that can be used by both humans and applications. For RDF and other semantic web technologies to take advantage of this mechanism, changes are required in the underlying data model of RDF and the basic architecture of the Web. Once these are made, the foundation will have been laid for achieving the goals of the semantic web... A solution to the 'identity crisis of the Web' is clearly essential. The purpose of this paper is to offer an explanation of the root causes of the problem and to show how concepts originally developed as part of XML Topic Maps (XTM) offer a solution that can be applied to the semantic web in general..."

  • [March 31, 2003] "Living With Topic Maps and RDF. Topic Maps, RDF, DAML, OIL, OWL, TMCL." By Lars Marius Garshol (Ontopia). Technical Report which extends and improves upon the earlier paper "Topic Maps, RDF, DAML, OIL: A Comparison," presented at XML 2001. "This paper is about the relationship between the topic map and RDF standards families. It compares the two technologies and looks at ways to make it easier for users to live in a world were both technologies are used. This is done by looking at how to convert information back and forth between the two technologies, how to convert schema information, and how to do queries across both information representations. Ways to achieve all of these goals are presented... The focus of this paper is to compare the models of the two technologies, and to use this comparison to describe ways in which the two technologies can be made to work together. In other words, the goal of this paper is to make it easier for users to live with both RDF and topic maps... While the technologies are clearly similar it is equally clear that they are intended for different purposes. Topic maps were created to support high-level indexing of sets of information resources to make the information in them findable. RDF, on the other hand, was intended to support the vision of the semantic web through providing structured metadata about resources and a foundation for logical inferencing... The key lessons [from the paper] are that: (1) Merging the two technologies does not appear desirable or possible. (2) It is possible to convert data back and forth between the two representations using simple, declarative, vocabulary-specific mappings. (3) This makes it possible for RDF and topic maps to have shared vocabularies. (4) RDF constraints can be converted to topic map constraints given such a mapping. (5) Semantic annotations in OWL can be translated directly into a topic map representation of the same information. That is, the descriptive part of OWL can be used both with RDF and with topic maps. (6) It is possible to create a single query language for both RDF and topic maps. In short, it does appear that it is possible to live with both RDF and topic maps..."

  • [March 24, 2003] "." By Michael Classen. From (March 24, 2003). "In our last extension of the XMLMap we closed with a discussion of ontologies and topic maps, both concepts for expressing semantics of resources. I received many questions on the rather abstract nature of these concepts, as well as their practical applications and implications. This installment tries to explain topic maps with examples taken from our daily lives... Topics maps revolve around three basic concepts: Topics, Associations, and Occurrences... Up until now there has been no equivalent of the traditional back-of-book index in the world of electronic information. People have marked up keywords in their word processing documents and used these to generate indexes 'automatically', but the resulting indexes have remained as single documents. The World Wide Web removes the distinction between individual documents and now, indexes have to span multiple documents. Indexes have to cover vast pools of information, calling for the ability to merge indexes and to create user-defined views of information. In this situation, old-fashioned indexing techniques are clearly inadequate. The problem has been recognized for several decades in the realm of document processing, but the methodology used to address it - full text indexing - has only solved part of the problem, as anyone who has used search engines on the Internet knows only too well. Mechanical indexing cannot cope with the fact that the same subject may be referred to by multiple names ('synonyms'), nor that the same name may refer to multiple subjects ('homonyms'). Yet, this is basically how a web search engine works, so it is no surprise when you get thousands of irrelevant hits and still manage to miss the thing you are looking for! Topic maps provide an approach that marries the best of several worlds, including those of traditional indexing, library science and knowledge representation, with advanced techniques of linking and addressing. The author has realized the need for a map to the XML topic; a later installment will deal with XTM and an attempt to apply it to this Web site..."

  • [March 10, 2003]   Draft Requirements Document on Topic Maps Published Subjects.    A posting from Bernard Vatant (Chair, OASIS Topic Maps Published Subjects TC) announces the publication of a final review working draft for Published Subjects: Introduction and Basic Requirements. The document provides an introduction to Published Subjects and specifies requirements and recommendations for publishers of PSI sets. The TC welcomes all relevant and knowledgeable comments from domain experts in information technology areas impacted by the requirements draft, viz., experts in RDF, Semantic Web, Controlled Vocabularies, and Ontologies; also Librarians, Taxonomists, and others who manage the legacy that is likely to provide the main source of Published Subjects. Published Subjects as defined in the draft Specification "provide an open, scaleable, URI-based method of identifying subjects of discourse. They cater for the needs of both humans and applications, and they provide mechanisms for ensuring confidence and trust on the part of users. Published Subjects are therefore expected to be of particular interest to publishers and users of ontologies, taxonomies, classifications, thesauri, registries, catalogues, and directories, and for applications (including agents) that capture, collate or aggregate information and knowledge." The OASIS Topic Maps Published Subjects Technical Committee has been chartered "to promote Topic Maps interoperability through the use of Published Subjects. A further goal is to promote interoperability between Topic Maps and other technologies that make explicit use of abstract representations of subjects, such as the Resource Description Framework (RDF), DAML+OIL, and the Web Ontology Language (OWL)."

  • [March 07, 2003] "The HyTime Topic Maps (HyTM) Syntax 1.0." By Martin Bryan. In (March 07, 2003). ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 Information Technology -- Document Description and Processing Languages. ISO 13250 Project deliverable for review and comment. March 08, 2003. Status: "A first stab at defining HyTm, still incomplete." Abstract: "This specification defines a HyTime Topic Maps 1.0 (HyTM) syntax for topic maps based on the use of SGML architectural forms defined in ISO 10744, the Hypermedia/Time-based Structuring Language (HyTime). The syntactical expressions in HyTM documents are constrained using HyTime architectural forms that can be used to identify element types and attributes used to generate topic maps, together with explanatory prose and comments, while their interpretation is defined using The Standard Application Model for Topic Maps (SAM). Note that this is only a syntax specification; what the syntax represents is defined by SAM. This specification replaces the original definitions of the architectural forms defined in ISO 13250:2002..." From the Introduction: "A HyTM topic map is a topic map that has been identified from a DTD conforming to the HyTM syntax that consists of a topicmap conformant element with descendants. A HyTM resource is a HyTime conformant SGML or XML document that contains one or more HyTM topic maps. In a process known as deserialization, each HyTM topic map is read by a topic map processor, which produces from it a representation of the Standard Application Model (SAM), by following a procedure equivalent to the one defined in Clause 3 of this specification. The deserialization procedure is defined as a transformation that takes an element item from the HyTime Property Set defined in the HyTM Grove Plan as input and produces a Standard Application Model instance as output. This specification does not concern itself with the means by which the HyTime Property Set used as input is produced. In most cases it will be produced by SGML architectural processing, but other possibilities are specifically allowed, including parsing an XML document, architectural processing based on W3C Schema abstract types or XSLT transformation from other XML syntaxes..."

  • [March 07, 2003] "Using Topic Maps to Extend Relational Databases." By Marc de Graauw. From (March 05, 2003). ['Marc de Graauw shows how to make databases more adaptable with Topic Maps.'] "Relational databases are great for storing structured data which conforms to a well-defined relational database schema. They are not so good at storing information that does not conform to such a schema. Since user requirements inevitably change, this means costly database upgrades. To avoid too many such upgrades, in a larger database one often sees provisions which allow users to add relevant information which does not fit nicely in the database schema. The lowest-level extension is a free-text field in a record which allows users to add textual data. Another common extension is the introduction of user-defined value lists. While such mechanisms are powerful, they are not standardized and do not easily allow the interchange of data. Topic Maps provide a very flexible and robust way to add arbitrary data to a relational databases at runtime. Moreover, Topic Maps come with a predefined exchange mechanism -- the XML Topic Maps (XTM) interchange syntax -- to allow data to be exported to XML... Topic Map paradigm provides a powerful way to add data to a relational database at runtime in a very flexible and powerful way. Topic Maps provide an excellent technique to overcome the natural limitations of relational databases: the constraining nature of the database schema. An added bonus is the ability to export the data as an XTM file, thus enabling interchange with other Topic Maps."

  • [February 27, 2003] "Topic Map Constraint Language Requirements." By Graham Moore and Mary Nishikawa. 2003-02-23. ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N0xxx. Work product from ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 Information Technology -- Document Description and Processing Languages. Reference posted to the '' mailing list on 2003-02-28 by Mary Nishikawa with Subject "TMCL Requirements Draft for Review." Supersedes the earlier document "Draft requirements, examples, and a 'low bar' proposal for Topic Map Constraint Language (TMCL)" ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N226, 2001-05-24. This is the first public working draft for TMCL Requirements. "The Topic Map Constraint Language (TMCL) will provide a means to express constraints over and above the constraints currently defined by the Standard Application Model (Data Model for Topic Maps). Its goal will be to provide a language such that a topic map can be said to be conforming within a topic map or within a class of topic maps. It may help optimization both of topic map storage and of TMQL queries based on schema information. It may provide more intuitive user interfaces for creating and maintaining topic maps. This document will define the requirements that we expect the language will provide. TMCL is to be developed by ISO/JTC SC34 WG3 and this requirements document is for members of the committee and implementers who have expressed an interest in the development of a Topic Map Constraint Language... TMCL must define a standard way to explicitly indicate how topic map constructs are to be constrained. It should specify the topic characteristics a topic will have and the kinds of structures an association will have. TMCL shall be specified in terms of SAM (Standard Application Model for Topic Maps), a data model, and will not be specified on any serialization format for topic maps. This will automatically allow it to support both XTM & HyTM s well as LTM and AsTMa=, since these all have mappings to SAM..."

  • [November 16, 2002]   ISO SC34 Publishes Draft Reference Model for Topic Maps (RM4TM).    A posting from Steven R. Newcomb announces the availability of a first public draft of The Reference Model for Topic Maps (RM4TM), produced by members of the ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 Topic Map Models Project. The Reference Model defines "an abstract graph structure for the representation of relationships between subjects, rules for defining Applications of the Topic Maps paradigm, and rules for processing the information contained in topic maps. The primary objective of the Topic Maps paradigm is to make everything known about every subject accessible from a single location." In Newcomb's summary, the draft document "shows how to regard any data content notation, database schema, etc., as a topic map notation, so that its knowledge content can be automatically and losslessly amalgamated with all other kinds of knowledge content into a comprehensive topic map that honors the Subject Location Uniqueness Objective. The Subject Location Uniqueness Objective is to have one single subject per node, and for every participating subject to have one single node, even after any number of diverse topic maps have been merged together." ISO SC34 is also creating two new topic map standards: ISO 18048 "Topic Maps Query Language (TMQL)" provides a kind of SQL (or XML Query) for topic maps; ISO 19756 "Topic Maps Constraint Language (TMCL)" provides a schema or constraint language for use in constraining what is allowable to say in the topic map.

  • [December 12, 2002] "Datatypes for XML Topic Maps (XTM): Using XML Schema Datatypes." By Murray Altheim (Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, Milton Keynes, Bucks, UK). Draft version 1.4 2002/12/12. Topic map available in XML format, also zipped. Reference posted to the OASIS Topic Maps Published Subjects Technical Committee list. Abstract: "The W3C Recommendation XML Schema Part 2: Datatypes ('XSD') provides a specification of datatypes and their facets, and forms the semantic basis of this document, which establishes Published Subject Indicators (PSIs) for each XML Schema datatype and facet. A PSI is a (relatively) stable URL used as a canonical identifier for a subject, particularly within an XML Topic Map (XTM) document, though application of PSIs is not limited to XTM. This document does not alter any XML Schema datatype definition; for definitions of each datatype..." Author's note: "I'm pleased to announce a first draft of something that's been in the works for over a year... The ability to constrain or 'type' topic characteristics is something necessary within the topic map community. Constraints on topic map structures may be provided by various forms of schema facilities, such as TMCL, but a simple datatyping feature is still something sorely missing. There are some examples provided in the document... I welcome comments or suggestions towards establishing 'best practices' for use of these PSIs, as well as comments on the structures within the provided topic map. I am willing to add visualizations of various parts of the topic map if that is considered helpful."

  • [December 18, 2002] "The XML Papers: Lessons on Applying Topic Maps." By Steve Pepper and Lars Marius Garshol (Ontopia). Presentation given at the IDEAlliance XML 2002 Conference, Baltimore, December 2002. "This paper describes some of the basic steps in applying topic maps in a real world application, a topic map-driven web portal of conference papers. It covers the tasks of collecting and examining source data, defining an ontology and populating a topic map. It discusses tools for automatically creating topic maps, with particular emphasis on how the synergies between topic maps and RDF can be exploited in the process of autogenerating topic maps from structured and semi-structured source data. It also provides an introduction to the concept of published subjects, describes how they are being applied in this project and details the benefits that they are expected to bring in both this and other projects... We will briefly describe the goals of XML Papers project and then concentrate on the work that has actually been performed to date, paying special attention to methodologies, technologies and the lessons we have learned. The project is not yet complete, although a substantial topic map and application already exists that covers a dozen or so conferences. That application will be demonstrated during the presentation and the conference exhibition. The idea of producing a 'next generation' topic map of not just one GCA conference, but all of them was conceived by the present authors and embraced by IDEAlliance (the GCA's successor). The goal of the project is to collate (as much as possible of) a decade's papers on XML and related technologies, index them using topic maps, and make them accessible through a topic map-driven web portal. A secondary goal is to provide input to the XMLvoc technical committee working on defining published subjects for the domain of XML. The XMLvoc TC [Vocabulary for XML Standards and Technologies TC] is one of several committees working under the auspices of OASIS in the area of published subjects, which are described later..."

  • [December 18, 2002] "The Economics of the Topic Maps Reference Model." By Steven R. Newcomb (Coolheads Consulting). Presentation given at the IDEAlliance XML 2002 Conference, Baltimore, December 2002. "The draft ISO standard Reference Model of the Topic Maps paradigm meets technical requirements that are strikingly parallel to the same economic principles that are evidently most conducive to worldwide economic growth... The Topic Maps Reference Model is basically a distinction -- and a well-defined boundary -- between two things: (1) The minimum set of structural features that knowledge must always be regarded as having, if we are to have a convenient way of aggregating any kinds of independently-maintained knowledge with any other kinds of independently-maintained knowledge, in a lossless, predictable, useful, and affordable fashion. (2) All the other features that knowledge can have, including those that may need to be constrained in diverse ways within diverse contexts. The Topic Maps Reference Model takes the position that the minimum set of structural features that must be common to all knowledge, in order to allow all kinds of knowledge to be aggregated, are a set of constraints on the structure of semantic networks. The kind of semantic network that is defined by the Reference Model is called a 'topic map graph'. In a topic map graph, every node is a surrogate for exactly one subject (as in 'subject of conversation'), and no two nodes are surrogates for the same subject. All nodes are connected to each other by nondirectional arcs. The Reference Model provides exactly four kinds of arcs, each of which is used in the same very specific way in each 'assertion'. In the Reference Model, assertions are the primary units of knowledge. Every assertion is a set of specific nodes interconnected in specific ways by specific kinds of arcs. Assertions represent relationships between subjects, and in each assertion, each related subject plays a specific role (called a 'role type'), which is itself a subject. Each assertion can itself be an instance of an 'assertion type', which is also a subject..."

  • [December 18, 2002] "Topic Map Authoring With Reusable Ontologies and Automated Knowledge Mining." By Joshua Reynolds and W. Eliot Kimber (ISOGEN International, LLC). Presentation given at the IDEAlliance XML 2002 Conference, Baltimore, December 2002. "Topic Maps and their supporting infrastructure are quickly achieving the level of maturity needed to make them useful as part of the basic information management toolkit. With increasing vendor support, standardization activities, and interest in the field of Knowledge Representation and Interchange, it is clear that Topic Maps are here to stay. Unfortunately all of this progress and interest in no way eases the formidable task of authoring Topic Maps. Our experience indicates that XSLT works well for Topic Map generation over sets of XML resources. Markup, through it's design and implementation, frequently captures a good deal of semantic information, making it a perfect candidate for knowledge extraction. There are essentially two ways of extracting that knowledge into a Topic Map when those marked-up resources conform to a known schema (DTD, RELAX-NG, XSD, or even just an in-house convention). The first is hand authoring. This involves reading the document and using human reasoning to interpret the markup and it's content, then creating the Topic Map from this information. The second is to use the schema itself. By applying knowledge extraction techniques to the schema, we can use the same logic across an arbitrarily large set of conforming documents. As markup is easily machine processed, incorporating this reasoning in some sort of algorithmic form is clearly desirable. Going from markup (XML) to markup (XTM) makes XSLT the prime candidate for expressing this algorithm. Topic Map merging enables these generated XTMs to be combined with topical information that can't be extracted using a style-sheet. Although the former allows for more precision, the latter implies far less cost, both in terms of initial effort, as well as maintenance (only the style-sheet must be authored/maintained). This paper provides a case study used to illustrate how to ease the task of Topic Map creation through a multi-stage modularized process. The first stage is hand authoring a relatively invariant 'ontology' Topic Map. This consists of defining the ontology of types and associations that capture the data model for a particular subject domain. The assumption is that this ontology would be relatively stable over time, and a good candidate for reuse. The second is generating additional Topic Maps through an algorithmic process (XSLT) applied to XML document instances. The third is hand authoring those things not captured in the first two stages. This consists of the capture of information not directly discernible from the markup, or stored in non-XML resources. The resultant Topic Maps are merged giving a Topic Map that can be as rich as if completely hand authored. We present the source documents and code (stylesheets) used in an exploratory implementation of this approach, and lay out a more generalized approach to using this methodology. We finish by identifying possible issues with this approach, as well as enumerating alternatives, and stating the conclusions we were able to infer from our exploration..."

  • [December 18, 2002] "Using DAML+OIL as a Constraint Language for Topic Maps." By Eric Freese (LexisNexis). Presentation given at the IDEAlliance XML 2002 Conference, Baltimore, December 2002. "Over the past year or so, the World Wide Web consortium (W3C) and DARPA have been working to create a framework to model information ontologies contained on the Web. The result of that work is known as DARPA Agent Markup Language + Ontology Interface Layer (DAML+OIL). DAML+OIL provides a rich set of constructs, using RDF, to create ontologies and mark up information to be machine readable and processable. Some of the constructs are much more powerful than what is currently enabled by the topic map model. These include: (1) The ability to define not only subclass-superclass relationships but also disjoint relationships; (2) The ability to place restrictions on when specific relationships are applicable; (3) The ability to apply cardinality to relationships. The topic map standard provides several features that RDF cannot match, especially in its association model and the ability to define scopes for information (even though there is still discussion about how scope should really work). While certain inferences about how objects are related can be derived from a topic map, DAML+OIL has extended RDF to do things topic maps can't. The constructs mentioned above would be very useful in topic maps to allow intelligent inferences about objects (whether or not they are topics or resources) and to accurately build a knowledge base from a set of information, be it a small corporate document repository or the entire Web. This paper will demonstrate how DAML+OIL can be used to provide additional capabilities that are currently missing from the topic map model. It will discuss possible additions to the topic map model or its companion standard, Topic Map Constraint Language (TMCL) [REQs] , to enable DAML+OIL to process and enhance topic maps. It will also discuss methods for using DAML+OIL in conjunction with topic maps to take advantage of the best from both worlds..."

  • [December 18, 2002] "Topic Maps: Backbone of Content Intelligence." By Jean Delahousse (Mondeca). Presentation given at the IDEAlliance XML 2002 Conference, Baltimore, December 2002. "Industrial enterprises, administrations and editors have a long history of organizing information so as to facilitate access and exchange. Developed for the world of print publication, these earlier solutions need to be incorporated now into the newer ones that are specifically adapted for digital content. The term 'Content Intelligence' encompasses the different tools and methods that would allow companies to capitalize on their existing skills and resources even while offering fresh solutions for new stakes... Topic Maps tools are ideally suited for providing the infrastructure to content intelligence solutions because of: the separation between subject management, subject organization and contents; (2) the ability to implement decentralized interoperable solutions; (3) the ability to reuse and exploit the existing information organization within the enterprises. These strengths explain the proliferation of operational projects based on the Topic Maps standard and tools within various industries, the publishing world and in administration... Several elements are still missing in the Topic Maps standard and its derivative software for the solutions implemented to be complete and interoperable: the finalization of the PSI standard a standardization, within the Topic Maps framework, of the most commonly used models of knowledge organization so as to ensure interoperability of the solutions implemented the definition of generic APIs, Web services and standards that would together facilitate the emergence of a dialogue between the different software components of a Content Intelligence solution But, as of today, these different challenges have already been identified by the different actors and are progressively finding solutions within the framework of standardization committees, operational projects for clients and industrial collaborations among the different providers of technical solutions..."

  • [December 18, 2002] "Articulating Conceptual Spaces Using the Topic Map Standard." By Helka Folch and Benoît Habert (Human-Machine Communication Department - LIMSI CNRS). Presentation given at the IDEAlliance XML 2002 Conference, Baltimore, December 2002. "Topic Maps (ISO13250) is a powerful standard for the semantic annotation of document collections... However the construction of a topic map can be very costly and can quickly become a bottleneck in any large-scale application if recourse is not made to automatic methods. Apart from the initial cost of defining the topic map, problems of maintenance and coherence may arise when the topic map is applied to renewable information sources, as manual construction and maintenance can not keep pace with any significant amount of incoming documents. A manual approach to topic map construction is adapted if the conceptual model is stable and is linked to a circumscribed collection of resources, but is ill suited to manage dynamic, loosely-structured information sources. The volume of data channeled through the Internet and large intranets today requires not only indexing new resources 'on the fly' but re-structuring the semantic model as new concepts and varying points of view spring up. One possible approach to topic map construction involves recycling of structured or semi-structured data and exploiting pre-existing knowledge sources for semantic indexing. This implies that a semantic model is available in advance, to which information instances are attached in a top-down manner. However, the large majority of electronic resources available today are unstructured. This has generated a need to extract semantic information and build topic maps from unrestricted text for which the vocabulary and conceptual models are not known in advance. In contrast to a top-down approach, in this latter data-driven approach a document collection is not a passive repository of topic instances but rather a tool for discovery from which semantic categories are made to emerge through inductive methods. This approach has been applied within the context of 'monitor corpora' such as the electronic version of the Wall Street Journal. The periodical analysis of these corpora is aimed at monitoring a given domain in view of detecting emerging topics, for a technology watch task, for instance. The work we present in this paper, describes an inductive method for building topic maps from unrestricted text. Our approach does not use pre-existing knowledge sources, but rather exploits regularities of word pattern distribution within a collection of documents..."

  • [December 10, 2002] "The Standard Application Model for Topic Maps." By Lars Marius Garshol and Graham Moore (JTC1/SC34). With cover page. Document reference: ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N0356. Editor's draft for review and comment. Date: 2002-12-04. Produced for ISO 13250 (Project editors: Steven R. Newcomb, Michel Biezunski, Martin Bryan), ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 Information Technology - Document Description and Processing Languages. "This document defines the structure and interpretation of topic maps by defining the semantics of topic map constructs using prose, and the structure of such constructs using a semi-formal data model. Together with the Reference Model specification and the HyTM syntax specification this document will supersede ISO 13250 [ISO/IEC 13250:2002 Topic Maps, ISO, Geneva, 2002]. Together with the XTM syntax specification this document will supersede XTM [XML Topic Maps (XTM) 1.0 Specification, TopicMaps.Org, 2001]. It is intended to become part of the new ISO 13250 standard... This international standard requires that topic map implementations must have internal representations of topic maps that have a clearly documented correspondence to the model defined in this document. This international standard also defines a number of structural constraints and operations on instances of the model, to which its implementations must conform. The process of exporting topic maps from an implementation's internal representation to an instance of a topic map syntax is known as serialization. The opposite process, that of building such a representation from information encoded using a topic map syntax, is known as deserialization. Conforming specifications of topic map syntaxes must define these processes in terms of the model specified in this specification, although they are not required to define both operations. A syntax may be conforming even if it does not represent all the information in this model. A topic map processor is any module or system that can process topic maps in conformance with this standard. It is assumed that the topic map processor does its work on behalf of another module known as the topic map application. This international standard assumes that a topic map processor will do deserialization on behalf of the application, and that the processor will manage the topic maps on behalf of the application..."

  • A posting from Robert Barta reports on research at Bond University focused upon topic map constraints. The "AsTMa language family is designed to support authoring, updating, constraining and querying of Topic Maps... Whenever Topic Maps are authored, they might have to follow a particular structure. In the same way as relational databases are constrained by schemas and XML languages follow constraints (provided by DTDs, XML Schemas, Schematrons, ...), Topic Maps can also be constrained by a constraint or a set of constraints. AsTMa! is one AsTMa sub-language which allows to formulate such constraints. Conceptually, AsTMa! is a language to define ontologies. For our purposes here an ontology is defined as: a set of concepts (vocabulary), a type system connecting the concepts of the vocabulary, and qualitative and quantitative rules on the structure and extent of associations..." See the draft version 0.4 of the AsTMa! Language Definition and the tutorial. The ISO SC34 WG3 is working on ISO 19756: Topic Maps Constraint Language (TMCL) which "will provide a schema or constraint language for topic maps; using TMCL one can write schemas for topic maps that constrain what is allowed to say in the topic map, such as 'a person must be born in a place,' 'a person must have at least one name,' and so on. A TMCL requirements draft has been produced.

  • ISO/IEC FCD 13250:1999 - Topic Maps. Approved text for DIS ballot. 19-April-1999. Prepared by: ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 - Document Description and Processing Languages. Project Editors: Michel Biezunski, Martin Bryan, Steve Newcomb. [cache]

  • Emnekart Norge 2002. A 2002-09 communiqué from Lars Marius Garshol announces a TopicMap Conference arranged by the Norwegian XML User's Group, together with Creuna, Empolis, and Ontopia. "The world's first Topic Map Conference will be held at Clarion Hotel Royal Christiania, Oslo, Norway on October 18th 2002. Emnekart Norge 2002 will focus on the business case for topic maps and will feature presentations from Steve Pepper, Lars Marius Garshol, Kal Ahmed, and others." See the conference links.

  • [October 08, 2002] Related: Exchangable Faceted Metadata Language (XFML) Version 1.0.     A communiqué from Peter Van Dijck announces the version 1.0 release of the XFML Core - eXchangeable Faceted Metadata Language. XFML Core "is an open XML format for publishing and sharing hierarchical faceted metadata and indexing efforts. XFML is a model to express topics, organised in hierarchies or trees within mutually exclusive containers called facets. It also expresses indexing efforts: metadata you have assigned to pages. It lets you publish this information in an open, XML based format. Finally, XFML lets you build connections between different XFML maps, by indicating that a topic in one map is equal to a topic in another map (we call this connecting topics), or that a topic is described on a certain resource (a webpage usually; we call this published subject indicators). Facetmap, an application to browse faceted metadata, was the first application to import XFML... The real power of XFML lies in the concept of connecting topics. This allows you to reuse indexing efforts. It means you don't have to index the entire web yourself, you can reuse parts of other XFML maps. Metadata authoring applications that take advantage of this concept are being developed." [Full context]

  • [October 01, 2002] "Topic Maps for Managing Classification Guidance." By Vinh Lê (U. S. Department of Energy, Office of Security, Information Classification and Control Policy -SO-12) and James David Mason (Y-12 National Security Complex). Paper presented at 2002 Extreme Markup Languages Conference 2002 in Montréal. "The Department of Energy (DOE) and its predecessor agencies have had a long history of developing and handling sensitive, classified information. Since the Manhattan Project, identification of classified information has been supported by principles and rules, called 'classification topics,' in guidance documents that are published for use by authorized classifiers across the DOE complex. Managing DOE classification guidance adds to the usual problems of document management. Coordination of multiple dependencies among master and derived documents and classification topics is needed to ensure consistency. The Topic Maps technique is being applied to organize classification guidance topics according to unique subjects so that duplicate topics, inconsistent topics, and gaps in classification guidance become obvious for corrective actions. Once topics are logically organized and linked, then when a change in a guidance topic is proposed, system users will know which related topics need a review or change. Development of an overall guidance-management system also involves creation of a new XML-based publishing system to replace the diverse and often inadequate tools used in the past. A document-management system to support the publishing system will require integration with the guidance-management system in addition to the conventional tools for revision control and file management. We have begun to construct the topic maps for guidance management and are in the process of refining a design of topic maps to manage the publishing process... We have been able to demonstrate the map, and we already have feedback from the user community about things they would like to see presented differently. We are now designing new HTML and JSP pages to replace the generic interface. As part of the Ferret project, Y-12 developed a simple editor for knowledge bases. Because of the similarity between the Ferret knowledge base structure and this topic map, we are modifying the editor to write out topic-map components. The next step will probably be to implement a topic-map editor, since the files in question are not conducive to easy editing in a conventional XML editor. In the next year, besides the considerable redesign of the interface, we expect to start on the implementation of the content-management system and the extensions to both the topic map and the interface to support it..."

  • [October 16, 2002] "Introducing Topic Maps. A Powerful, Subject-Oriented Approach to Structuring Sets of Information." By Kal Ahmed (Techquila). In XML Journal Volume 03, Issue 10 (October 2002). "Topic maps are a standard way of representing the complex relationships that often exist between the pieces of information that we use in day-to-day business processes. This article begins by discussing what topic maps are, what they can do, and what people are currently using them for. However, my main goal is to introduce the basic concepts of topic maps and their representation in XML... Almost all XML vocabularies are designed with a single purpose: to describe information in a way that enables automated processing. We use XML to describe document structures so our documents can be rendered as HTML, WML, PDF, or some other presentation format. We also use XML so that business systems can interchange data reliably. Both the ability to render content to different output formats and the reliability of data interchange arise from a predefined agreement about how individual pieces of markup describe the information they wrap... Current applications can be broken down into three major purposes: (1) A way to improve accessibility to information; (2) A flexible, extensible data structure for standalone applications; (3) An integration layer between existing applications. 'Topic maps for information accessibility' is by far the largest category of current applications of topic maps. Topic maps are being used as the structuring paradigm for portals to all sorts of information. Because they're subject oriented, they provide an intuitive way for users to find their way around large sets of information. Using a topic map, the information provider can create a high-level overview of the concepts covered by the documents. Users can then navigate the overview to find the subject area of interest before accessing the related documents. You can also go the other way - from a document to a list of all subjects in the document and from there to other documents related to the same subject(s). Because all of this structure is explicit in the topic map, navigating from subject to document and back again can be done without requiring the user to construct search terms. Many commercial topic map tools focus on making information more findable and presenting navigation structures for topic maps. Thus, once you have your information structured using topics maps, it's possible to get a configurable, off-the-shelf application to do the work of presenting that structure to the end users. The topic map paradigm is a powerful, subject-oriented approach to structuring sets of information. The building blocks of topic maps are topics that have names and point to occurrences of the subject in external resources. Associations relate topics to each other. Each topic in an association is the player of a defined role. Topics, occurrences, and associations can all be typed by other topics. In addition, topic names, occurrences, and the roles they play in associations can be specified to be valid only in a given context by the use of a scope, which is defined by a collection of topics..." [alt URL]

  • [October 01, 2002] "Guide to the XML Schema Specifications." Techquila's Topicmap-powered browser for the W3C XML Schema Specifications. By Kal Ahmed (Techquila). October 01, 2002. "The W3C XML Schema standards are often accused of being over-complex and difficult to read. In an attempt to assist those trying to find their way around the W3C specifications, I have created a multi-modal topic map of the specifications. In this topic map you will find indexes of the terms used by the specifications and the main concepts of XML Schema. The topic maps are primarily created automatically using MDF to process the XML Schema specifications and the schema for XML Schema. The topic maps are then integrated by merging them with a hand-crafted topic map created using TMTab. A static HTML site has been created from the topic maps and can be browsed [online]. The application that produces this HTML output is based on TM4J and Jakarta Velocity. For more information about the creation and publication of topic maps using open-source and free software; or to get the topic map files themselves, please contact Kal Ahmed directly..." [From the posting: "I've spent a little time creating topic maps from the XML Schema family of specifications. The HTML-ized result is now [online]... This is a first stab at trying to topicmap the specs so comments on both presentation and content would be very welcome. For the topic map nerds, the XTM files are available; send me an email if you would like them. My thanks to Jeni Tennison who provided some really helpful hints in getting me started on this project (though all the mistakes are mine!)."] For schema description and references, see "XML Schemas."

  • [August 07, 2002]   Topic Maps for the Web.    Addison-Wesley Professional has announced the release of XML Topic Maps: Creating and Using Topic Maps for the Web, described as a "complete introduction and application guide to the world of topic maps." Edited by Jack Park and Sam Hunting, the book contains contributions from sixteen authorities on topic maps. The volume "introduces the topic maps paradigm, global federated knowledge interchange, the topic map standards and specifications, the basics of XTM markup, Published Subject Indicators, ontological engineering, open source topic map software, topic map visualization, topic maps and RDF, semantic networks, and knowledge organization and representation -- all with a wealth of technical detail. Originally designed to handle the construction of indexes, glossaries, thesauri, and tables of contents, [Topic Maps] can provide a foundation for the Semantic Web. They can serve to represent information currently stored as database schemas (relational and object). Where databases only capture the relations between information objects, topic maps also allow these objects to be connected to the various places where they occur. Knowledge bases can be designed that not only relate concepts together but also can point to the resources relevant to each concept." [Full context]

  • [May 03, 2002]   ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 Publishes Standard Application Model for Topic Maps Review Draft.    An Editor's draft version of The Standard Application Model for Topic Maps has been published for review. It has been produced under ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34: Information Technology - Document Description and Processing Languages. The document "defines the structure and interpretation of topic map information by defining the semantics of topic map constructs using prose, and their structure using a formal data model. This specification supersedes ISO13250 and XTM (XML Topic Maps); it is intended to become part of the new ISO 13250 standard. Topic maps are abstract structures which encode information about a domain and connect this information to information resources that are considered relevant to the domain. Topic maps are organized around topics, which are symbols representing real-world things, associations representing relationships between the things, and occurrences, which connect the topic map to information resources pertinent to the topics... It is expected that topic map implementations will have internal representations of topic map information that have a well-defined correspondence to the model defined in this document. This specification also defines a number of structural constraints and operations on the model, which implementations are expected to conform to." [Full context]

  • [April 12, 2002] "A High-level Description of a Draft Reference Model for ISO 13250 Topic Maps." By Steven R. Newcomb and Michel Biezunski (Co-editors, ISO/IEC 13250). Document reference: ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N0298 Rev. 1. From ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34, Information Technology -- Document Description and Processing Languages. April 04, 2002. [Note the status description: "Draft High-level Description of forthcoming Editor's Draft." A draft of this document was first prepared for the XML Europe 2002 Conference, Barcelona, Spain, May, 2002.] "The purpose of ontologies (sets of knowledge-bearing assertion types), taxonomies (classes of things, ideas, etc.), and vocabularies (such as markup vocabularies) is to allow the human members of communities of interest to communicate among themselves about the things with which their communities are concerned. However, knowledge that is represented in the terms of a specific community may have high value outside its community of origin. How can distinct bodies of knowledge, created and maintained by distinct, non-cooperating communities, be made usefully available in contexts other than their communities of origin? One answer is to merge them with other bodies of knowledge, in conformance with the Reference Model of ISO 13250 Topic Maps... In the draft Reference Model, a topic map is seen as a set of 'assertions', no more and no less. Each assertion asserts the existence of a strongly-typed relationship between some specific set of subjects of conversation. Each such subject is a 'role player' in the assertion; it plays a specific role in the relationship. The ontologies of Applications may include an unbounded number of kinds of assertions ('assertion types'). The roles, the role players, the assertions themselves, and the types of the assertions, are all regarded as subjects, and any of these features of an assertion can be role players in other assertions. Every topic map is a graph, and every assertion within a topic map is a subgraph within that graph. According to the draft Reference Model, graphs of topic maps consist of 'nodes' (also sometimes called 'vertices' or 'vertexes' or 'topics') and four distinct kinds of nondirectional 'arcs' or 'edges' that connect the nodes to one another. The Reference Model establishes a single graphic meta-structure for all assertions... The draft Reference Model is extremely simple: four arc types and two built-in assertion types. Each of these six constructs has a limited number of implications for implementations, and none of these implications prohibits the implementation of systems that distribute knowledge among peer servers that collectively and effectively behave as a single knowledge base. On the basis of the draft Reference Model, distributed systems that can do 'lazy' merging -- merging that is done on an ad hoc basis in order to meet an ephemeral user need -- can be created, even if they do not all implement the same Application." See also ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N0298. [cache]

  • [September 17, 2002] "What Are Topic Maps?" By Lars Marius Garshol. From (September 11, 2002). ['Anyone who has attended an XML conference over the last two years or so is likely to be aware of Topic Maps, an XML technology that helps in indexing and describing the relationships between information items in documents. In "What Are Topic Maps?" Lars Marius Garshol introduces Topic Maps, explains what they look like, and what they can do.'] "Many years ago, I started looking into SGML and XML as a way to make information more manageable and findable, which was something I had been working on for a long time. It took me several years to discover that, although SGML and XML helped, they did not actually solve the problem. Later I discovered topic maps, and it seemed to me that here was the missing piece that would make it possible to really find what you were looking for. This article is about why I still think so... The topic map takes the key concepts described in the databases and documents and relates them together independently of what is said about them in the information being indexed... this means managing the meaning of the information, rather than just the information. The result is an information structure that breaks out of the traditional hierarchical straightjacket that we have gotten used to squeezing our information into. A topic map usually contains several overlapping hierarchies which are rich with semantic cross-links like 'Part X is critical to procedure V.' This makes information much easier to find because you no longer act as the designers expected you to; there are multiple redundant navigation paths that will lead you to the same answer. You can even use searches to jump to a good starting point for navigation. The most common use for topic maps right now is to build web sites that are entirely driven by the topic map, in order to fully realize the their information-finding benefits. The topic map provides the site structure, and the page content is taken partly from the topic map itself, and partly from the occurrences. This solution is perfect for all sorts of portals, catalogs, site indexes, and so on. Since a topic map can be said to represent knowledge about the things it describes, topic maps are also ideal as knowledge management tools... So, to sum up, topic maps make information findable by giving every concept in the information its own identity and providing multiple redundant navigation paths through the information space. These paths are semantic, and all points on the way are clearly identified with names and types that tell you what they are. This means you always know where you are, which prompted Charles Goldfarb to call topic maps 'the GPS of the information universe.' Topic maps also help by making it possible to relate together information that comes from different sources through merging and published subjects. A future article will discuss this..." See the list of 'Tools and references' at the end of the article.

  • [August 26, 2002] "Business Maps: Topic Maps Go B2B!" By Marc de Graauw. From August 21, 2002. ['Marc de Graauw explains how topic maps can help vocabulary interoperability.'] "Interoperability between ontologies is a big, if not the single biggest issue in B2B data exchange. For the foreseeable future there will not be a single, widely accepted B2B vocabulary. Therefore we will need mappings between different ontologies. Since these mappings are inherently situational, and the context is very complex, we cannot expect computers to create more than a small part of those mappings. We need tools to leverage the intelligence of humans business experts. We need portable, reusable, and standardized mappings. Topic Maps are an excellent vehicle to provide those 'Business Maps'. (This article presumes a basic understanding of Topic Maps, readers may wish to read A Gentle Introduction to Topic Maps in conjunction with this article.) We have lots of data and descriptions of data. Take for instance the abundance of vocabularies for B2B exchange: xCBL, FinXML, FpML, etc. Those vocabularies can be seen as ontologies. Older EDI technologies such as X.12 and EDIFACT are also ontologies. There are as of yet no general standards for B2B vocabularies in XML. The ebXML initiative did not have actual business documents as one of its deliverables. Right now work is being done on the Universal Business Language (UBL) to fill this gap. Beside those 'industry-strength' solutions, there are lots of tailor-made data exchanges between companies, often using nothing more than simple ASCII comma-separated files. Together with their documentation, those ASCII-files also constitute ontologies. And even within larger companies many different ontologies exist within the different legacy databases of different departments. Those different data sources present huge interoperability problems... Interoperability between ontologies is one of the most important problems in B2B data exchange. For the time being, making mappings will mainly be a human job. Therefore we need a way to leverage human intelligence to make all the required B2B mappings. Portable, reusable mappings would accomplish this. Those mappings would need to store information on business document mappings and the context that applies to those mappings. Topic Maps are an excellent vehicle to store such information, thus yielding Business Maps. The complete samples of Business Maps [InterOperability Topic Map] are available online..."

  • [December 14, 2001] "Differences between XTM 1.0 and the HyTime-based meta-DTD." Edited by Michel Biezunski and Steven R. Newcomb. ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N0277. Project: Topic Map Models. 8-December-2001. Editors' Draft, informational. "The ISO/IEC 13250:2000 'Topic Maps' International Standard has two interchange syntaxes, the HyTime-based meta-DTD, and the XTM DTD. The following is a survey of the relationships and differences between these two syntaxes. Describing the semantics of both syntaxes: One of the purposes of the layered model of Topic Maps Information is to provide a means of describing the semantics of such information, in general, regardless of the representations that may be used to interchange it. The layered model also can be used to show how each different syntax (or other representation) can be used to interchange or store Topic Map Information, and to compare the ways in which each syntax reflects the inherent character of the underlying model of Topic Map Information. In order to rigorously define and constrain the interpretation of each syntax, it is desirable to describe how instances of each syntax can be transformed into instances of the common underlying model, and how instances of the underlying model can be transformed into instances of each syntax. It is important to recognize that information that has the character of Topic Map Information is ordinarily expressed in many different notations. It is highly desirable to be able to federate all kinds of 'finding information', not just the finding information that happens to be expressed in one of only two syntaxes. The underlying layered model of Topic Map Information is applicable to any number of notations, although the ISO 13250 standard uses it only to constrain the interpretation of only two syntaxes -- the syntaxes that it happens to provide. Conformance to the underlying layered model will enable topic map applications to become omnivorous with respect to syntax..." In this connection, see the 2001-12-14 posting from James David Mason (Chairman, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34) to the effect that "... the ballot to amend ISO/IEC 13250 has passed, [so] the XTM 1.0 DTD is now a part of the ISO/IEC standard. That means we shouldn't make distinctions in the future between 'ISO 13250' and 'XTM'... Both the HyTime metaDTD originally published in the standard and the XTM 1.0 DTD are now equally parts of the standard. Each one provides an approved ISO/IEC mechanism for interchange of Topic Maps. To avoid confusion, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 has adopted the practice of calling the original HyTime form 'HyTM', in parallel with 'XTM' for the later form... We expect the relationship between the two notational conventions to be further elucidated by revisions to the standards and by other work in progress in SC34. There is a graphic at (or that will be expanded into a full roadmap for the relationship among the various components of the Topic Map standardization project. We need to keep clear that the transfer serialzations are not the definition of Topic Maps: The standard is the definition. SC34 intends that the supplementary standards will clarify the meaning of Topic Maps without changing their essential nature. (We also recognize that other transfer serializations are possible, outside the standard.) The explanatory text of XTM 1.0 remains as it was, where it was. However, we should remember that this is provisional text and that the definitive interpretation now will be progressed by SC34 as we fill in the roadmap. [cache]

  • [February 02, 2002]   OASIS Technical Committee to Define Published Subjects for Geography and Languages.    A proposal has been submitted to OASIS for the creation of a new technical committee on 'Published Subjects for Geography and Languages'. The TC will define sets of published subjects "for language, country, and region subjects, in accordance with the guidelines for published subjects to be laid down by the OASIS Published Subjects TC. Languages, countries, and regions are subjects that occur frequently across a wide range of topic maps. In order to promote maximum reusability, interchangeability and mergeability, standardised sets of published subjects are required to cover these domains. Two such PSI sets (for country and language) were published as part of the XML Topic Map 1.0 Specification; the task of this TC will be to update and extend those PSI sets using existing code sets defined by recognised standards bodies such as the ISO and the UN." Published subjects will be created for languages according to ISO 639 and USMARC codes; published subjects for countries and regions will be based upon ISO 3166; PSI sets for countries, regions, and geographic areas will also be created for USMARC codes; another set of published subjects for regions will be based up on the UNSD Standard Country or Area Codes. Published subjects are a form of controlled vocabulary allowing "unambiguous indication of the identity of a subject"; they are defined in the ISO 13250 Topic Maps standard and further refined in the XML Topic Maps (XTM) 1.0 Specification. [Full context]

  • [October 02, 2001]   TopicMaps.Org Consortium Continues Development Efforts within OASIS.    A posting from Carol Geyer announces the decision of the TopicMaps.Org consortium to continue development of XML Topics Maps (XTM) specifications within the OASIS Technical Process. Eric Freese, Chair of TopicMaps.Org, previously announced a decision by the group to become an OASIS Member section. Topic maps (ISO/IEC 13250:2000) are designed to "provide a knowledge layer -- independent of the information resources themselves -- to capture and manage corporate memory, improve indexing, and enable the integration of information that spans multiple, disparate repositories. Applications include the semantic web, distributed ontologies, business processes, workflow, search and retrieval tools, knowledge management, diplomatic communication, cultural dialogue and various other disciplines and functions." One OASIS XTM technical comittee has already been formed (Topic Maps Published Subjects Technical Committee) and others are in the process of formation. According to Steven R. Newcomb, one of the three co-editors of the ISO Topic Maps: "Topic Maps offers a simple and extraordinarily scalable way to control 'infoglut' and amalgamate sets of knowledge-bearing assertions from disparate sources." [Full context]

  • [June 20, 2001] "TopicMaps.Org Member Section under OASIS." Posting from Eric Freese 21-Jun-2001. "MOTION: The chairman of TopicMaps.Org (and his designates) is hereby requested to begin work to create an OASIS Member Section, to be provisionally called TopicMaps.Org. This work is to be completed by August 1, 2001" [...] This motion passes with 13 YES votes and one non-vote out of a possible 14 participating members. I will contact Laura Walker and Karl Best at OASIS to determine the path forward. Those participating members who are also OASIS member and any who join during the moving process will be contacted about what needs to be done within the OASIS framework to establish the Member Section. I believe this is a very exciting move forward for TopicMaps.Org and the topic map community as a whole. I will keep everyone posted on the progress..."

  • XTM Document Web site. Maintained by Murray Altheim. See the XTM charter and the latest [pre-release] XTM DTD.

  • [March 08, 2002]   Ontopia Knowledge Suite Supports Query and Schema Tools for Topic Maps.    A communiqué from Geir Ove Grønmo and Steve Pepper announces the release of the Ontopia Knowledge Suite version 1.3, with a query engine and schema tools. The Ontopia Knowledge Suite (OKS) includes (1) "a full-featured Topic Map Engine written in 100% Java; (2) the Ontopia Topic Map Navigator Framework, a framework for building J2EE compliant web applications; (3) integration with full-text search engines; and (4) an RDBMS backend for persistent storage of very large topic maps. The new query engine, which utilizes the 'tolog' query language, enables complex queries to be performed on topic maps. The schema tools allow the validation of semantic constraints expressed using the Ontopia Schema Language (OSL), and the development of more intelligent, schema-aware end-user applications." Ontopia is also releasing a new version of its popular free topic map browser, called Omnigator; the Omnigator "is a generic application built on top of the Ontopia Navigator Framework that allows users to load and browse any conforming topic map, including their own." [Full context]

  • [December 11, 2001] Announces Open-Source Toolkit for Topic Map Information Processing (GWTK).    A communiqué from Jan Algermissen and Sam Hunting announces the public alpha release of an open-source toolkit which implements the Topic Maps Processing Model. The Toolkit for Topic Map Information Processing (GWTK) was announced at the XML 2001 Conference in Orlando, Florida. GWTK is a "free, open-source implementation of the Topic Maps Processing Model 1.0.2 (TMPM4), which will inform the topic maps Reference Model under development at ISO SC34. Written in C by Jan Algermissen, the GWTK toolkit takes XML topic maps (and HTML plus Dublin Core documents) and represents them as a TMPM4 graph that can be queried with the sTMQL module, viz., subject-based Topic Map Query Language. GWTK complies with the rules for topic map integrity laid down in TMPM4, including the Subject-based Merging rule, the Name-based Merging rule, the 'Node Demander is a Subject Indicator' rule, and three of the four 'No Redundancies' rules. GWTK has a flexible storage strategy adopted at graph creation. The graph can be stored in-memory, or (in future releases) with the Postgres, MySQL, ODBC, or sdbm databases. The toolkit also permits association template validation." [Full context]

  • [March 21, 2001] Informative Web Site.    Michel Biezunski (InfoLoom) has announced as a new 'informative Topic Maps web site' that he is now maintaining, together with Steve Newcomb (Coolheads Consulting). Biezunski says: "This web site is devoted to our work in progress on topic maps. We have published a draft of the processing model for topic maps which we are working on, now called the ' Processing Model'. This document will be updated and completed." The editors also intend to use this web site to publish information on the convergence between RDF and Topic Maps; they will publish links from the web site to any application, or development of interest in the area of Topic Maps processing models, RDF/Topic Maps convergence, etc. Interested parties are invited to supply the editors with URLs for relevant resources. [Full context]

  • Mailing list 'xtm-wg' on Egroups. XTM - 'XML Topic Maps'. Part of Topic (XML Topic Maps) mailing list, hosted by IDEAlliance. Send mail to An active mailing/discussion list Summer/Fall 2000. The archive includes a collection of draft/proposal XML DTDs, (e.g.,) XTM interchange DTD, DTD from Graham Moore and H. Holger Rath, DTD from Michel Biezunski, DTD from Martin Bryan. See also the WG charter [cache] and Minutes of the Paris Meeting, June 8-9, 2000 [cache]. [cache DTDs 2000-09-22]

  • [September 28, 2001] "RDF/Topic Maps: late/lazy reification vs. early/preemptive reification." By Steven R. Newcomb. Posting 2001-09-27. "For me, at least, the shortest, most compelling and cogent demonstration of a certain critical difference between Topic Maps and RDF was Michael Sperberg-McQueen's wrap-up keynote at the Extreme Markup Languages Conference ( last August. Michael brought colored ribbons and other paraphernalia to the podium, in order to illustrate his words... In the past, I myself have considered RDF as the competitor of Topic Maps. Happily, I was wrong -- at least in fundamental technical terms. Indeed, I now believe that if there were no RDF, the Topic Maps camp would have to invent something like it in order to make the Maps paradigm predictably comprehensible by the programmers who are pioneering the development of the Internet. There are other interesting comparisons to be made between RDF and Topic Maps, but ever since Michael's demonstration of the difference between early vs. late (preemptive vs. lazy) reification, I have been meaning to document both the difference and the demonstration..." See also "Resource Description Framework (RDF)."

  • [April 20, 2001] "XML Topic Maps: Finding Aids for the Web." By Michel Biezunski (InfoLoom) and Steven R. Newcomb (Coolheads Consulting). In IEEE MultiMedia Volume 8, Number 2 (April-June 2001), pages 104-108. "Topic maps superimpose an external layer that describes the nature of the knowledge represented in the information resources. There are no limitations on the kinds of information that can be characterized by topic maps. The purpose of the Extensible Markup Language topic maps (XTM) initiative is to apply the topic maps paradigm in the context of the World Wide Web. Finding information: In a world of infoglut, it's becoming a real challenge to find desired information. Hiding irrelevant information is most effectively and accurately done on the basis of categories, but there's a number of ways to categorize the contents of any corpus, and each system of categorization represents only one particular worldview. Information users shouldn't be forced to use a single ontology, taxonomy, glossary, namespace, or other implicit worldview. On the Web, we should federate and exploit different worldviews simultaneously, even if those worldviews are cognitively incompatible with each other. Finding information -- metadata that helps information seekers to find other information -- is often too valuable to limit its exploitability to a single closed or proprietary environment. Finding information should be application- and vendor-neutral, so that users can freely exploit it in many ways and contexts. The topic map paradigm provides a solution for interchanging and federating finding information that diverse sources produce and maintain according to different worldviews. What's a topic map? A topic map is a representation of information used to describe and navigate information objects. The topic maps paradigm requires topic map authors to think in terms of topics (subjects, topics of conversation, specific notions, ideas, or concepts), and to associate various kinds of information with specific topics. A topic map is an unobtrusive superimposed layer, external to the information objects it makes findable. The findability of a given information object, (that is, the ease with which it can be found) has two aspects: (1) The ease with which a list of information objects that is guaranteed to include the information object can be created by means of some query, and (2) The brevity of that list. The shorter the list, the easier it is for a human being to find the desired information object within the list. A topic map can act as a kind of glue between disparate information objects, allowing all of the objects relevant to a specific concept to be associated with one another. Topic maps are metadata that need not be inside the information they describe. Interchangeable versus application-internal topic maps: Topic maps take two forms: interchangeable topic maps that are XML or SGML documents, and directly usable topic map graphs that are the application-internal result of processing interchangeable topic maps. Topic map graphs are abstractly described in terms of nodes and arcs. Topic maps can be formatted as specific kinds of finding aids: indexes, glossaries, thesauri, and so on. We sometimes regard formatted finding aids as a third form of a topic map, but this isn't strictly true, because such finding aids cannot necessarily contain or reflect all of the information present in the topic maps from which they were derived... There's some overlap between topic maps and the Resource Description Framework (RDF, specification. Both standards aim to represent connections between information objects and can encode metadata, among other things. At the Graphic Communcations Association (GCA) XML 2000 Conference where the publication of the XTM 1.0 Core Deliverables was announced, Tim Berners-Lee, the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) proposed in his presentation on the semantic Web that there should be a convergence between RDF and topic maps. The implications of such a convergence will include benefits for DARPA's Agent Markup Language (DAML) initiative, as well as with the ontology interface layer (OIL)... The central notions of topic maps will play increasingly significant roles in future generations of Web technology, because the severity of the infoglut problem is only going to increase. The Topic Maps paradigm is designed not only to accommodate diversity; it preserves, cherishes, and leverages diversity in the conquest of infoglut. Whenever a new vocabulary, ontology, and so on appears, it need not be regarded as evidence suggesting that the dream of global knowledge interchange can't be realized. On the contrary, it's cause for hope, because of the knowledge-federating, diversity-leveraging power of topic maps. No great difficulty is posed by the need to welcome yet another community of interest into the global community of communities of interest. Communities of interest are defined by their worldviews, and whenever a community of interest rigorously exposes its worldview in a fashion that permits its knowledge to be federated with the worldviews and knowledge of other communities, the whole human family is enriched." [copyright notice]

  • [August 24, 2001] "On the Integration of Topic Maps and RDF Data." By Martin Lacher and Stefan Decker. 14 pages. Paper presented "on the integration of Topic Maps and RDF" at the August 2001 'Semantic Web Workshop' at Stanford. ['We provide a way to make Topic Map sources RDF-queriable by exchanging one layer in a layered data model stack. The exchanged layer is the layer on which both are represented as a graph; we use TMPM4 as a Topic Map graph representation. Our approach complies with what Graham Moore has termed in his XML Europe paper "modeling the model".'] "Topic Maps and RDF are two independently developed paradigms and standards for the representation, interchange, and exploitation of model-based data on the web. Each paradigm has established its own user communities. Each of the standards allows data to be represented as a graph with nodes and labeled arcs which can be serialized in one or more XML- or SGML-based syntaxes. However, the two data models have significant conceptual differences. A central goal of both paradigms is to define an interchangeable format for the exchange of knowledge on the Web. In order to prevent a partition of the Web into collections of incompatible resources, it is reasonable to seek ways for integration of Topic Maps with RDF. A first step is made by representing Topic Map information as RDF information and thus allowing Topic Map information to be queried by an RDF-aware infrastructure. To achieve this goal, we map a Topic Map graph model to the RDF graph model. All information from the Topic Map is preserved, such that the mapping is reversible. The mapping is performed by modeling the graph features of a Topic Map graph model with an RDF graph. The result of the mapping is an RDF-based internal representation of Topic Maps data that can be queried as an RDF source by an RDF-aware query processor... Interoperability is of greatest importance for the future Semantic Web. We suggested a way to achieve interoperability between Topic Maps and RDF, which enables the joint querying of RDF and Topic Maps information sources. Our work builds on existing work on general approaches for the integration of model based information resources. In contrast to those general approaches we showed a detailed mapping specifically from XTM Topic Maps to RDF. We achieved this by adopting an internal graph representation for Topic Maps, which has been published as part of one of the processing models for Topic Maps. We perform a graph transformation to generate an RDF graph from the Topic Map graph representation. The Topic Map source can now be queried with an RDF query language together with RDF information sources. We see this as a first step towards the integration of the many heterogeneous information sources available on the Web today and in the future." [cache]

  • [March 02, 2001] "Mapping the XTM Syntax to the XTM Conceptual Model." By Daniel Rivers-Moore. Posted to the XTM mailing list. "Attached is my work in progress towards a formal expression (in UML) of the mapping from the XTM Conceptual Model to the XTM Interchange Syntax. This is intended as a suggestion of an approach and a start towards a mapping, not as a completed piece of work...The diagrams used in this section are 'class diagrams', using the conventions of the Unified Modelling Language (UML). In a class diagram, each rectangle represents a class of objects (a kind of thing that can exist), and the words in the rectangle are the name of that class. The lines and arrows between the rectangles represent relationships that exist or can exist between instances of those classes (individual things of those kinds). In an object diagram, each rectangle represents an individual object, and the words in the recangle are the name of the individual, followed by a colon, followed by the name of the class of which it is an instance. The lines between the rectangles represent relationships that exist between those individual objects..." See (1) TopicMaps.Org, and (2) XTM Document Web site.

  • [May 23, 2001] "RDF and TopicMaps: An Exercise in Convergence." By Graham Moore (Vice President Research & Development, Empolis GmbH). Paper for XML Europe 2001 Berlin. 2001-05-24. ['This paper presents: (1) a way in which RDF can be used to model topicmaps and vice versa; (2) the issues that arise when performing a model to model mapping; (3) some proposals for changes to XTM to enable semantic interchange of the two standards. I am presenting this paper on Thursday at XML Europe if anyone is around and interested. I don't think this is the complete solution to the integration issue. However, I think that this paper could help focus some of the discussions.'] "There has long been a sense in the semantic web community that there is a synergy between the work of ISO and on TopicMaps and that of the W3C on RDF. This paper looks at why and how we can bring these models together to provide a harmonised platform on which to build the semantic web. The reasoning behind bringing together these two standards is in the fact that both models are intent on describing relationships between entities with identity. The question we look to answer in this paper is 'Is the nature of the relationships and the identified entities the same'. If we can show this to be true then we will be able to have a common model that can be accessed as a TopicMap or as a RDF Model. To make this clearer, if we have a knowledge tool X we would expect to be able to import some XTM syntax, some RDF syntax and then run either a RDF or TMQL query in the space of tool X and expect sensible results back across the harmonised model. In order to achieve this aim we need to show a model to model mapping between the two standards. We present the TopicMap model, the RDF model, a discussion on modelling versus mappings and then a proposed mapping between the two. As part of the mapping we make suggestions as to the changes that could be made to better support interoperation and finally we conclude and provide an insight into future work... we define a clear goal that we should be able to run a TMQL query against an RDF model and get 'expected results' i.e., those that would be gained from running a query against the equivalent TopicMap. To make this possible we need to make the models map rather than using the models to describe each other. The key difference in these approaches is that one provides a mapping that is semantic, the other uses each standard as a tool for describing other models. It is interesting that both models are flexible enough and general enough to allow each to be modelled using the other... While we found there was a useful mapping that could be performed it was felt that some additions to the TopicMap model -- Templates and Arcs would enable two way transition from RDF to TopicMaps and vice versa. We conclude that making some non-regressive enhancements to TopicMaps would enable a useful degree of convergence between TopicMaps and RDF, creating a single common semantic space in which to define the semantic web." [cache]

  • [June 12, 2001] "TMQL Requirements (0.8.2)." Edited by Hans Holger Rath (empolis GmbH) and Lars Marius Garshol (Ontopia). "This document sets down the requirements that will guide the work with the Topic Map Query Language (TMQL), a query language for topic maps. The requirements herein presented document the intentions of the standards editors, as informed by the user community. Its purpose is to make it clear what can be expected to come out of the TMQL process, and to encourage the user community to make their needs known to the editors. This document has requirements for the TMQL standard as a whole, and for the query part of TMQL in particular. Additional requirements for the update part of TMQL will have to be defined at a later stage..." [Referenced in posting from Lars Marius Garshol. "WG3 proposes Hans Holger Rath (Germany) and Lars Marius Garshol (Norway) as editors of Topic Map Query Language (TMQL) and instructs them to produce a final requirements document for TMQL, and to prepare a response to comments from the National Bodies of the UK, US, and Japan.. At the ISO SC34 meeting in Berlin in May I officially replaced Ann Wrightson as co-editor of the TMQL standard with Hans Holger Rath. Based on the previous requirements document put together by Ann and Holger, as well as the discussions in Berlin, Holger and I produced a new TMQL requirements document. This document presents the editors' views on what the TMQL standard should be like and how it should relate to other standards. The editors would very much like to see feedback from the topic map community on these requirements, in order to ensure that the editors and the community are in agreement on the requirements to be fulfilled by the standard before work begins in earnest..."

  • [June 18, 2001] "A Topic Map Data Model. An infoset-based proposal." By Lars Marius Garshol (Ontopia A/S) and Hans Holger Rath. TMQL [Topic Maps Query Language] Project. Reference: ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N0229. June 18, 2001. "This document defines an abstract model for topic maps which makes explicit the implicit data models of ISO 13250 and XTM 1.0. It also defines a processing model for XTM 1.0 based on the data model. The model is intended to present one possible approach to specifying a data and processing model for topic maps, believed by the author to be preferrable to other proposed approaches. It is hoped that this model may represent a first step on the way to a complete model for topic maps. Such a model would serve many purposes: (1) Enable interoperability between topic map processors by defining precisely what topic map processors are required to do. (2) Enable ancillary standards to be built on the topic map standard in a precise and controlled manner. (3) Make it easier for newcomers to topic maps to understand what their abstract structure is and how they work... This document is not complete; it is an early draft intended to show a possible approach to defining the topic map model. In particular, this document has no official standing whatsoever. It is, as stated above, just a draft proposal... The abstract model for topic maps here presented is inspired by the XML Infoset, and uses a similar system of information items with named and typed properties..." [cache, alternate source, from Ontopia]

  • [June 15, 2001] "[Topic Maps.] From "Recommendations of May 2001 Meeting of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34/WG3 in Berlin." Reference: ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N222. (1) ISO 13250: XML Representation for Topic Maps. WG3 submits N220 as a defect report on ISO/IEC 13250 and new text for a proposed remedy, and requests that it be forwarded to JTC1 for ballot. (2) ISO 13250: Topic Map Processing Model. WG3 instructs the editors of 13250 to initiate work on the development of a data model for topic maps, that will provide the underpinnings necessary for TMQL and the Topic Map Constraint Language, and the basis for explaining the processing of topic map documents conforming to the interchange syntaxes. (3) Topic Map Query Language. WG3 submits N227 as draft requirements for TMQL. WG3 proposes Hans Holger Rath (Germany) and Lars Marius Garshol (Norway) as editors of Topic Map Query Language (TMQL) and instructs them to produce a final requirements document for TMQL, and to prepare a response to comments from the National Bodies of the UK, US, and Japan. (4) Topic Map Conceptual Model. WG3 proposes Daniel Rivers-Moore (UK) as editor of TRxxx (Topic Map Conceptual Model) and instructs him to prepare a response to comments from the National Bodies of the UK, US, and Japan. (5) Proposal of Topic Map Constraint Language. WG3 submits N221 as a New Project Proposal for a Topic Map Constraint Language to support ISO/IEC 13250. SC34 requests its secretariat to forward this document to JTC1 for ballot. WG3 submits N226 as draft requirements, proposes Steve Pepper (Norway) as acting editor and instructs the acting editor to prepare a final requirements document."

  • [June 15, 2001] "Draft requirements, examples, and a 'low bar' proposal for Topic Map Constraint Language." By Steve Pepper (Project Editor). ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N226. The User Requirements include: (1) TMCL shall permit the definition of classes of topic maps in order to: [a] enable the documentation of the structure and semantics of a class of topic maps; [b] provide a foundation for defining vertical or domain specific applications of topic maps; [c] provide means of validation to ensure consistency within a topic map or across a class of topic maps; [d] enable applications to provide easier and more intuitive user interfaces for creating and maintaining topic maps; [e] enable the separation of the tasks of modeling and populating topic maps. (2) TMCL shall be based on the Topic Map Data Model (and therefore support both XTM and ISO 13250 Topic Maps). (3) TMCL shall not attempt to cover every possible constraint. Instead it should provide a solution for the most commonly required kinds of constraints and, at the same time, an extension mechanism to allow the expression of less common constraints by other means. (4) TMCL shall provide for modularization, and the ability to extend individual sets of constraints through reference to others. (5) TMCL shall be expressible as XML, using the topic map interchange syntax where applicable. (6) TMCL shall build on pre-existing specifications and established best practice for knowledge representation and data modeling where possible. (Candidates for consideration include DAML/OIL, KIF, OKBC, OCL, PAL (Protégé Axiom Language), and XML Schema.) (7) TMCL shall be as concise and human-readable as possible within the terms of the preceding requirements." From the Recommendations of May 2001 Meeting of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34/WG3 in Berlin: "WG3 submits N221 as a New Project Proposal for a Topic Map Constraint Language to support ISO/IEC 13250. SC34 requests its secretariat to forward this document to JTC1 for ballot. WG3 submits N226 as draft requirements, proposes Steve Pepper (Norway) as acting editor and instructs the acting editor to prepare a final requirements document." Cf. the NWI proposal cited below.

  • [June 15, 2001] Topic Map Constraint Language [TMCL]. Proposal For a New Work Item. ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC34 N221. 23 May 2001. Motivated because "a constraint language is needed to build templates for topic maps conforming to ISO/IEC 13250." The new work would address "mechanisms for expressing constraints on classes of topic maps conforming to ISO/IEC 13250:2000." Purpose and justification (1) To enable the documentation of the structure and semantics of a class of topic maps. (2) To provide a foundation for defining vertical or domain specific applications of topic maps. (3) To provide means of validation to ensure consistency within a topic map or across a class of topic maps. (4) To enable applications to provide easier and more intuitive user interfaces for creating and maintaining topic maps. (5) To enable the separation of the tasks of modeling and populating topic maps... This project will be part of a series of Standards and Technical Reports that contribute to the implementation and understanding of ISO/IEC 13250, Topic Maps." Compare the SC34 N226 Draft Requirements for TMCL, cited above.

  • [June 15, 2001] "Topic Maps, NewsML and XML-Possible Integration and Implementations." By Soelwin Oo (Software Developer, Research and Development, empolis UK). 2001. See the larger collection of technical papers. "This paper will discuss how the integration of different Topic Map based technologies can lead to the development of powerful knowledge based resource retrieval systems. It will discuss in detail the possible implementation for integrating a data resource that supports Topic structures with the knowledge embodied within a Topic Map. It will discuss this using examples of technology currently being developed by empolis illustrating the possible architecture of such a system and its potential real world use. Finally, the paper will investigate the potential for further integration and scalability of the system with other Topic Map resources. More specifically, it will elaborate on the possible hurdles and pitfalls that may arise from the integration of data from multiple resources and the possible need for managing ontologies originating from different sources... NewsML is a structured flexible framework based on XML developed by the IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) for electronic news based publication. It supports the representation of news items and the relationships between these news items in an XML based structure. Because NewsML possesses associated metadata concerning its news content, it provides the ability for having multiple representations of the same information along with provision for handling arbitrary mixtures of media types, languages and formats. The prime interest towards NewsML within the scope of Topic Maps is that NewsML possesses metadata concerning Topics that provide the ontology of its news content. This news item ontology' puts forward an appropriate example for an opportunity to capture' concepts presented by an XML based format that supports Topic structures. Once the base ontologies used within NewsML are present within a Topic Map, an application can process NewsML documents and present to the user the instances of the base ontologies that are associated with a NewsML document. This will then present a content driven approach for navigation of a Topic Map because the user's starting point will be the base ontologies instantiated by the NewsML document..."

  • [June 19, 2001] "Ferrets and Topic Maps: Knowledge Engineering for an Analytical Engine." By James David Mason Ph.D. Reference: Y/WPP-011. Paper presented at XML Europe 2001. "The 'Ferret' analytical engine, developed originally by the Y-12 National Security Complex of the U.S. Department of Energy to seek classified data and associations in documents and present its findings in the light of formal rules, requires a structured information base that represents not just individual facts but a set of implications and a collection of rules. The fundamental knowledge base is evolving towards forms that enhance flexibility and portability. The developers early realized that the knowledge base can be captured in XML by a series of trees that represent taxonomies, analytical structures, and specific indicative facts, but over this a topic map is needed to express links across the trees. Above this, the classification rules could form another topic map that points into the lower layers. In its latest form, however, the knowledge base has come to be entirely represented in a topic map. The 'Ferret' engine combines sophisticated searching with rule-driven analysis and reporting. In its original application, the Ferret engine performs the equivalent of 5,000 simultaneous searches while reading documents at several thousand words per second. The analysis traces implications of concepts discovered in searching and applies the rules for interpreting implications and the actions to be taken when a significant piece of information is found. Because the topic maps that represent this knowledge can be switched easily, Ferret can be reprogrammed to many tasks, including selection and categorization, scanning of e-mail and newsfeeds, diagnostics, and query expansion, in addition to the original classification application..." [From the Conclusion:] "When we began work on the Ferret system, our goal was simply to construct a tool to help the ADCs review documents. . . The first knowledge base was actually based on one derived from the slow prototype we had studied. We realized that design was not maintainable and moved from it to our earliest XML representation. We eventually realized we needed to divorce the knowledge base from any connection to legacy technologies and to concern ourselves only with capturing the intellectual relationships among its components. By treating the Ferret engine as a black box and building the knowledge base using the XTM model, we have achieved a form in which the base will be both portable and maintainable, as well as potentially usable for more than simply controlling the Ferret engine. Even as the knowledge base has evolved, we have been rethinking the uses of the Ferret technology. Besides using it for its original purpose as an ADC's assistant, we have already used it for categorization projects and for scanning e-mail. We believe that with appropriate knowledge bases, Ferret could serve as a diagnostic tool or a mechanism for expanding queries. We are considering extending the reporting mechanism to write out new topic maps as the engine analyzes documents. The new topic maps might assist us in representinganalytical results in processes like classification, or they could serve as indexes for searching the documents that have been analyzed. If we are able to merge generated topic maps with those already in a knowledge base, we believe that we will have created an engine that is self-training within certain domains. As the topic-map technology gains acceptance and support, topic-map tools fromother sources may appear that we can integrate with the Ferret engine, creating even more interesting tools. Conversion of the knowledge base structure from its original form to topic maps is, I believe, the key to future growth of uses for our analytical engine..." Noted in JMason's trip report (Report of Official Foreign Travel to Germany 17 May-1 June 2001): "I presented a paper on the use of topic maps for building the knowledge base for the Ferret classification engine developed by Y-12. I had previously presented a preliminary approach to an XML knowledge base at an August 2000 GCA conference in Montréal. The current approach represents the entire knowledge base in the XTM application; the paper was well received." [cache]

  • [January 24, 2001] Draft Requirements Document for Topic Map Query Language (TMQL). Ann Wrightson recently announced the availability of a draft specification for TMQL requirements. The draft is referenced from the 'Topic Maps Query Language' resources on eGroups. TMQL - Topic Maps Query Language is the public discussion group working on the design and development of TMQL. TMQL is a new standardization project of ISO (JTC1 SC34 WG3) and - the organizations which developed ISO Topic Maps and XTM (XML Topic Maps). The goal of this working group is the development of a 'SQL' for Topic Maps. Standard co-editors are: H. Holger Rath (empolis) and Ann Wrightson (Ontopia).' The requirements document (Version 0.4) is 'a working draft of a document in preparation concerning requirements for TMQL, circulated following the first (informal) editing meeting for TMQL Requirements, January 2001. This editing meeting agreed that the scope of TMQL needed to be clarified, and in particular that 'TMQL' had hitherto been used as a catch-all for a range of topic map related operational concepts which now needed to be clarified and worked out in detail. To this end, this document is structured as follows: (1) Introductory/general stuff, including a draft for a formal 'introduction and scope' to the requirements document as it will go to WG3. (2) Topic Maps in Modern Distributed Systems: covers usecases and technical infrastructure considerations; intended to allow the question 'are these the right requirements?' to have a rational answer. (3) Requirements for a Reference Abstract Data Model: as much as the TMQL abstraction needs to standardize, about the nature of topic map data - currently a bunch of ideas, not a proposal. (4) Requirements for a Topic Map Querying Language: see also the accompanying 'Examples' document. Responses and comments are invited, by Feb 02, 2001 if possible..." See the 'tmql-wg' group ('') at eGroups; the list is administered by H. Holger Rath.

  • [February 20, 2001] "Canonical XTM: A canonical serialization format for XML topic maps. Version 0.1." By Lars Marius Garshol, with contributions by Geir Ove Grønmo. Posted to XTM Mailing list 2001-02-20. ['I've now written up a proposal for a Canonical XTM specification, which is appended here. It is submitted for the consideration of, in the hope that it may be useful. It has already been implemented and is now used internally by Ontopia for testing purposes.'] "This specification describes a serialization format for XML topic maps which has the property that all logically equivalent topic maps have the exact same byte-by-byte representation in this format. This can be used to test the conformance of XTM processors. The specification describes the serialization of a topic map into an output document, but does not concern itself with where that topic map came from. It is NOT a goal to ensure that the canonical topic map can be successfully read into an XTM processor, but merely to confirm that all processing defined by the XTM 1.0 specification has been performed correctly. The topic map must before serialization be processed into consistent topic map, as defined by XTM 1.0. When applying canonicalization to XTM documents no string normalization such as Unicode canonical decomposition must be performed..."

  • [February 12, 2001]   XML Topic Maps 1.0 Authoring Group Review Specification.    Steve Pepper (Ontopia) recently announced the public release of the TopicMaps.Org Authoring Group Review Specification for XML Topic Maps 1.0. The specification "describes version 1.0 of XML Topic Maps (XTM) 1.0, an abstract model and XML grammar for interchanging Web-based topic maps, written by the members of the TopicMaps.Org Authoring Group. TopicMaps.Org is an independent consortium of parties developing the applicability of the topic map paradigm [ISO13250] to the World Wide Web by leveraging the XML family of specifications." On February 20, 2001, the XTM 1.0 Specification was announced as adopted. [Full context]

  • [February 28, 2001]   Draft Version of The Upper Cyc Ontology in XML Topic Map Representation.    Murray Altheim (Sun Microsystems) announced the availability of a draft version of the Upper Cyc Ontology in XTM (XML Topic Map) format. Reference: Sun Microsystems Technical Report 27-February-2001. The Technical Report "documents research and development of an XML Topic Map (XTM) representation of the Upper Cyc Ontology, including a distribution of five XTM topic maps based on features of the ontology. The Technical Report plus any associated software and/or documentation may be submitted to TopicMaps.Org with the goal of promoting XML Topic Maps (XTM) as a suitable ontological framework, as well as a source of XTM Published Subject Indicators (PSIs)." The Upper Cyc Ontology knowledge base stores some 3,000 terms "capturing the most general concepts of human consensus reality; it also represents a vast structure of more specific concepts descending below this upper level: logical axioms (rules and other assertions) which specify constraints on the individual objects and classes found in the real world." [Full context]

  • [October 02, 2001] "Binding Points for Subject Identity. The case for standard Published Subject Indicators." By Bernard Vatant (Mondeca). Paper presented at Extreme Markup 2001 - Montréal, August 2001. With a slide presentation. "Exchanging information about a subject with semantic tools, and singularly topic maps, demands both human and computer readable ways of agreement about this subject identity. Since subjects are always addressed through representations, hence agreement about subject identity must be grounded on some sort of representation, be it a name, an addressable resource, an URL or an XML <topicMap> element in a <topicMap> document. An overview is made of how those different representations can achieve or not the task of indicating subject identity in a non-ambiguous way. To address this problem, the XTM specification recommends that subject identity should be defined as far as possible by reference to Published Subject Indicators. But requirements for any standard definition, structure, management and validation of those PSIs remain to be defined, and in fact such requirements were deliberately considered out of the specification scope by its authors. Propositions are made for such requirements, grounded on the claim that a PSI should be a binding point for every possible representation of its subject. Beyond this problem of definition lies another important one. What are the best semantic ways to use PSIs? Merging topics has been a widely addressed process in the Topic Map community, and is in fact the only one really tackled by the XTM specification. But using PSIs as binding points for collaborative Semantic Networks of independent topic maps is proposed as an alternative to merging Very Large Topic Maps. Such distributed process could lead to a new vision of Subject Identity, grounded on dynamic knowledge organized around such binding points..." Note in this connection the [proposed] formation of an OASIS Topic Maps Published Subjects Technical Committee.

  • [May 05, 2001] "Building a Semantic Web Site." By Eric van der Vlist. From May 02, 2001. ['By simple use of XML vocabularies like XMLNews and RSS, Eric van der Vlist shows how you can build dynamic indexes to web site content.'] "Even though the Semantic Web may yet seem a remote dream, there are already tools one can use to make a tiny step forward by building 'semantic web sites,'" which can be much easier to navigate than ordinary sites. In this article, I will discuss how RSS 1.0 and its taxonomy module can be used as a central format to carry metadata collected in a classical news format, such as XMLNews-Story, to RDF or relational databases and XML Topic Maps. Readers should have basic familiarity with RSS and RDF, and a little topic maps knowledge would also help... I have built XMLfr (, a French site dedicated to and powered by XML, as a showcase for XML technologies and will use it as a real life example throughout this article. XMLfr is a dynamic site, using XML and XSLT, which stores its pages in the XMLNews-Story format. The site structure is described by a set of RSS 1.0 channels, and the semantic information encoded in the rich XMLNews-Story inline markup is converted into RSS 1.0 taxonomy markup. These RSS channels may be consolidated in an RDF database allowing ad hoc semantic queries on the global set of articles. They feed RDBMS tables for online, real-time queries that build a dynamic site index and include navigational information in the XHTML pages sent to the site users. The RSS channels can be transformed into XTM Topic Maps, to be displayed by Topic Maps visualization systems, and be enriched by the statistics extracted from the database in order to propose topic associations..."

  • [March 16, 2001] "Towards an Open Hyperdocument System (OHS)." By Jack Park. Version 20010316 or later. "In the big picture, this paper discusses one individual's (my) view of an implementation of an Open Hyperdocument System (OHS) as first proposed by Douglas Engelbart. Persistence: This project begins with persistent XTM, my implementation of an XTM engine that drives a relational database engine. It will expand to include flat-file storage of some topic occurrences. These occurrences are saved in an XML dialect specified by a DTD in the eNotebook project discussed below, and can be rendered to web pages using XSLT as desired. Collaboration: It is intended that the OHS engine, rendered as a Linda-like server as discussed below under the project jLinda, will be capable of allowing many users to log into the server and participate in IBIS discussions in the first trials. This assumes multicasting capabilities in the Content layer, which are not yet implemented. Topic Map capability: This project takes the view that navigation of a large hyperlinked document space is of critical importance; Topic Maps, particularly, those constructed to the XTM 1.0 standard are applied to the Knowledge Organization and Navigation issues. Perhaps unique to this specific project is the proposal that the XTM technology shall serve, at once, as a kind of interlingua between Context and Content by serving as the indexing scheme into a Grove-like architecture, and as the primary navigation tool for the Context layer..." [From the posting: "Recently, I have combined jTME [topic map engine] into a much larger project, a version of an Open Hyperdocument System as proposed by Douglas Engelbart (as interpreted by me). An ongoing 'weblog' on that project can be found at To discuss this project, particularly the jTME part of it, contact me at"]

  • [May 21, 2001]   Ontopia Knowledge Suite Features Topic Map Engine and TM Navigator Framework.    A product announcement from Ontopia AS describes the commercial release of the Ontopia Knowledge Suite Version 1.0, with support for the ISO 13250 and XML Topic Map (XTM) specifications. "The Ontopia Knowledge Suite (OKS) version 1.0 comprises a full-featured Topic Map Engine written in 100% Java, and the Ontopia Topic Map Navigator, a framework for building web-based topic map delivery applications. The new Navigator can be tested online or downloaded free. The OKS will become a complete suite of tools for managing and using topic maps, as new components are released during the coming months. Topic Mapping is a new paradigm for organizing, retrieving, and navigating information resources. Through the provision of a 'knowledge layer' that is independent of the information resources themselves, topic maps help capture and manage corporate memory, improve indexing, and enable the integration of information that spans multiple, disparate repositories. Topic Maps are an international standard, defined by the ISO, and can also be interchanged using the Extensible Markup Language (XML) defined by the W3C. Ontopia AS, a providers of advanced Topic Map technology and co-creators of the Topic Map standards, offers technology supporting added value to web portals, content management systems, knowledge-based intranet applications, and enterprise application integration." [Full context]

  • [March 22, 2001]   jTME: A Java Topic Map Engine.    Jack Park announced the availability of binaries for his Java Topic Map engine, jTME. jTME is a "persistent XTM [XML Topic Maps] engine which is capable of importing XTM 1.0 files based upon the December 4, 2000 XTM 1.0 DTD. It allows also construction of new XTM documents. Installation and operation are documented in a preliminary jTME User's Guide. The implementation is persistent in a relational database; the GUI just gives us a nice playground to experiment with persistent XTM. PersistentXTM is being used in my implementation of (my version of) Douglas Engelbart's OHS, called jpOHS... jTME uses my Java package xtm, the classes of which behave in a manner similar to Enterprise Java Beans: each class, for example, XTMTopic, performs its own persistent operations. The project is to be discussed in a forthcoming book XML Topic Maps:Creating and Using Topic Maps for the Web, to be published by Addison Wesley later in 2001." [Full context]

  • [January 24, 2001] "XML Topic Maps (XTM) Comes of Age!" - "TopicMaps.Org is pleased to announce the appointment of Steve Pepper and Graham Moore as editorial chairmen for XTM, the XML Topic Map specification. They take over from Steve Newcomb and Michel Biezunski, who have led the XTM work since January 2000. The change is seen as an indication of the maturity of the topic map paradigm, which has achieved wide recognition during the past twelve months as a potential enabling technology for the Semantic Web. The concept of topic maps was first formalised as an international standard (ISO 13250) in January 2000. It describes a model for representing the knowledge structures found in information resources, with the goal of enabling easier and more powerful navigation, searching, and information management. TopicMaps.Org is an independent consortium of parties that seeks to enhance the applicability of topic mapping to the World Wide Web by leveraging the XML family of specifications. XTM, which is now in the process of finalisation, will be the first specification to come from this unit. One symptom of the speed of XTM take-up has been the opening of discussions with the W3C's RDF team. Tim Berners Lee stated at the recent XML 2000 conference in Washington that convergence of topic maps and RDF is a crucial part of making the Semantic Web project happen. 'Topic mapping and RDF address the same problem - that of findability in the Age of Infoglut - but come at it from different angles. Our goal as editors will be to finalise XTM as soon as possible and then move on to a rapid harmonisation with RDF," said Steve Pepper. "Public support from the W3C will accelerate the adoption of XTM as a mainstream technology, by software vendors as well as users, providing benefits for all of us..." Topicmaps.Org is "an independent consortium of parties interested in developing the applicability of the Topic Maps Paradigm to the World Wide Web, by leveraging the XML family of specifications as required."

  • [December 05, 2000] XML Topic Maps (XTM) Specification Featured in the GCA's Topic Map Special Interest Day. The new XTM (XML Topic Maps) Specification was featured in the December 5th, 2000 "Topic Map Special Interest Day" at XML 2000. XTM Co-chairs Michel Biezunski and Steven R. Newcomb presented the new specification, and members of the XTM Working Group provided a walk-through. XTM represents an XML grammar for interchanging Web-based Topic Maps, currently under development by the Topicmaps.Org Authoring Group. The working group has announced the public release of three principal XML specifications documents, along with other supporting resources. (1) XML Topic Maps (XTM) 1.0 Core Deliverables [XTM-Core] represents "portions of the XTM 1.0 Specification that are not subject to any future change that would invalidate any XTM document or XTM application that conforms to the syntactic and other constraints [...] are intended to impose in order to guarantee reliable interchange of Web-based topic map information in XML." This includes the XTM 1.0 DTD, the XTM 1.0 Published Subject Indicators (an XTM topic map), and the XTM 1.0 Conformance clause. "This specification provides a grammar for representing the structure of information resources used to define topics, and the associations (relationships) between topics. Names, resources, and relationships are said to be characteristics of abstract subjects, which are called topics. Topics have their characteristics within scopes: i.e., the limited contexts within which the names and resources are regarded as their name, resource, and relationship characteristics. One or more interrelated documents employing this grammar is called a 'topic map'." (2) XML Topic Maps (XTM) 1.0 [XTM] describes version 1.0 of XML Topic Maps, an XML grammar for interchanging Web-based topic maps. "This document is in the Authoring Group Review phase of development. Except for specific parts that appear in Core Deliverables, the contents of this document represent portions of the XTM 1.0 Specification that are subject to changes made in the course of an Authoring Group (AG) Review process." Annex B provides the XTM Conceptual Model; Annex C provides the XTM 1.0 Document Type Declaration; Annex D presents XTM 1.0 Published Subject Indicators; Annex E provides a link to information describing the transformation of topic map documents conforming to ISO 13250 into XTM 1.0 syntax. (3) XML Topic Maps (XTM) Processing Model 1.0 [XTMP] describes version 1.0 of XML Topic Maps (XTM) Processing Model 1.0, a processing model for XTM. The document provides a description of the processing model bridging the gap between the XTM abstract conceptual model and the XTM interchange syntax. This document is in the Authoring Group Review phase of development. Except for specific parts that appear in Core Deliverables, "the contents of this document represent portions of the XTM 1.0 Specification that are subject to changes made in the course of an Authoring Group (AG) Review process." TopicMaps.Org is an independent consortium of parties developing the applicability of the Topic Map paradigm [ISO13250] to the World Wide Web by leveraging the XML family of specifications. See also (1) the announcement from Michel Biezunski, and (2) the XTM resource listing in Murray Altheim's posting "Final Release of XTM 1.0 Specifications"

  • "Topic Maps: Templates, Topology, and Type Hierarchies." By Hans Holger Rath. In Markup Languages: Theory & Practice 2/1 (Winter 2000), pages 45-64 (with 24 references). Author's affiliation: STEP Electronic Publishing Solutions GmbH; Email:; WWW: Abstract: "The new ISO standard ISO/IEC 13250 Topic Maps defines a model and architecture for the semantic structuring of link networks. Dubbed the 'GPS of the information universe,' topic maps will become the solution for organizing and navigating large and continuously growing information pools, and provide a 'bridge' between the domains of knowledge representation and information management. This paper presents several technical issues of which are of great interest when applying topic maps to real world applications. The main focus of the paper is the introduction of 'topic map templates' -- a semi-official term coined by the standards' committee for a concept that the author argues is a necessary but as yet unstandardized addition to the basic model. Furthermore: association taxonomies, class hierarchies, and consistency constraints of topic maps are presented and discussed." [Conclusion:] "The new topic map standard ISO/IEC 13250 defines a model and architecture for the semantic structuring of link networks. It can be seen as a base technology for modeling knowledge structures. The standards working group defined topic maps in such a way that a limited but implementable set of core concepts express the necessary semantics. The STEP Group has investigated how topic maps can be applied to reference works and uncovered some concepts which are not made explicit in the standard: (1) ability to separate the declarative part from the 'real' map, (2) predefined association types and association type properties, (3) class hierarchies for types, and (4) consistency constraints as input to map validation. The paper has explained these concepts and presented meaningful solutions. First experiences have shown that the part of a topic map made up by all topics used as themes and types by other 'objects' in the map should be clustered somehow. For this purpose the term topic map template was coined by the ISO working group. Templates can be used as starting points for new maps or can be used by reference in order to provide all the themes and types the map needs. Standardizing topic map templates will offer base topic maps for specific application areas and could form the basis of semantic application profiles. We looked at related academic fields like mathematics, linguistics, and philosophy to get some substantial input about relations. The results are a list of association type properties which give important hints to the topic map software and a list of basic association types which could act as built-in superclasses. The introduction of the superclass-subclass relationship was the logical consequence. Another technical issue covered by the paper is the validation problem. Topic maps might become rather big with millions of topics, occurrences, and associations. Manual consistency checking will be impossible. All the previously defined concepts open the possibility for sophisticated rule-based validation of topic maps. The proposed consistency constraints are those rules which declare the semantics not expressible with DTDs and which control the validation process. A couple of examples proved that standardizing the missing concepts as predefined topic map templates will help both the topic map developer and the topic map user. The improvements were presented on a level that they can be used as input to the ISO working group for further discussions."

  • [October 02, 2000] "XTM Data Model Proposal." By Lars Marius Garshol (Ontopia AS). Version: 2000-10-02. 10 pages. ['I've put together an EXPRESS data model for topic maps that reflects my understanding of the data model of the ISO Topic Maps standard, and posted it on the egroups site as input for the data model group.'] "This proposal is meant as design input to the XTM [XML Topic Maps] Data model group, and uses an EXPRESS schema with accompanying EXPRESS-G diagrams to define the data model. It follows the ISO syntax very closely, and is perhaps best seen as an interpretation of the ISO syntax, with some added opinions. . . Brief explanations of EXPRESS-G constructs: (1) boxes are entities (that is, class definitions); (2) rounded boxes with names are proxies for entities defined on other pages; (3) rounded boxes without names indicate references from other pages; (4) dotted lines represent optional properties; (5) S[0:?] means 'a set of zero or more members'; (6) thick lines indicate inheritance relationships; (7) stars in front of property names indicate a uniqueness requirement. I recommend starting with the diagrams and only afterwards moving on to the textual schema. Note that the textual schema contains some important comments..." [cache]

  • [May 2000] "The TAO of topic maps." By Steve Pepper (Ontopia). May 2000. "A paper from XML Europe 2000 that provides an introduction to topic maps, taking as its starting point the forms of navigation with which we are all familiar from the world of printed information: indexes, glossaries and thesauri." cache

  • [August 04, 2000] "Topic Maps and RDF: A First Cut." By Steve Pepper. June 2000. "Ten theses on the relationship between topic maps and RDF. This is a first cut at understanding the similarities and differences between these two approaches to making information findable." See "Resource Description Framework (RDF)."

  • [October 27, 2000] "Building Dynamic Web Sites with Topic Maps and XSLT." By Nikita Ogievetsky. Presentation slides from the presentation in Montréal are now available in HTML format. Abstract: "ISO/IEC 13250 Topic Maps cannot be expressed in HTML, but HTML offers an excellent way to deliver browsable information via the Web. The use of a Topic Map as the maintained "source code" or "sitemap" of a website, for example, is one of the applications of Topic Maps that offer convenience, power, reliability, and rapid reconfigurability to the maintainers of large, complex websites. There are many ways in which Topic Maps can be used to create and maintain commercial websites: XSLT transformations can be used to generate richly-linked HTML pages from Topic Maps, and Topic Maps constructs (occurrence roles, topic names, association roles, etc.) can play specific roles in the process of automatically creating the delivered HTML." Conclusions: "Building dynamic Web Sites with Topic Maps and XSLT framework offers convenience, power, reliability, and rapid reconfigurability to web architects, developers and integrators. (1) There is only one Topic Map document whatsoever that contains and controls content and structure of the whole website. (2)Facilitated management of the sitemap and metadata. (3) Easily merge-able with other topic map based web sites. (4) HTML offers an excellent way to browse Topic Maps via the Web. (5) Expedited maintenance of graphics, html fragments and other external resources. (6) Elegant solutions for Natural Language Generation. (7) Facilitated presentation and style maintenance : stylesheets can be shared by different web sites. (8) XSLT rendering and thus: write once render anywhere."

  • [September 22, 2000] W3C RDF and ISO/XML Topicmap discussion. Dan Connolly posted the announcement: "Following the energy and good will built up at the 'RDF vs. Topic Maps' session at Extreme Markup Languages in Montreal, a few of us got together by phone/IRC this morning (well... morning in my time zone). The notes we managed to take are available at" See RDF - ISO/XML Topicmap Agenda - 20000918: "A continuation of the conversations that started in Montreal at the Extreme Markup Languages Conference to increase knowledge and understanding about the relationships between the W3C RDF and ISO/XML Topicmap activities."

  • [August 04, 2000] "Creating semantically valid topic maps." By Geir Ove Grønmo. May 2000. "A paper about schemas for topic maps from XML Europe 2000. It discusses the need for a schema system, gives examples of possible constraints that a schema could describe and examines existing constraint mechanisms and their applicability to topic maps. The slides from the presentation are also available."

  • See the papers on Topic Maps from the XML Europe 2000 Conference: (1) Topic Maps: a user perspective; (2) Topic Maps: a technical perspective; (3) Text listing; (4) Liora Alschuler's account in a trip report, below.

  • "Topic Maps [at XML Europe 2000]." By Liora Alschuler. From June 16, 2000. [Topic maps have made a big splash at XML Europe this year [2000], with fourteen presentations and two tutorials.'] "If there is resistance to Topic Maps, ISO 13250:2000, based on their [ISO/SGML] parentage, you wouldn't know that from the crowds attending the two tutorials, 14 presentations, and three startup technology booths at GCA's XML Europe 2000. What follows is a quick look at the specification, the three vendors with topic map code, some early implementations, some early impressions of the issues topic maps will face in the next months. . . Topic Maps describe knowledge structures and associations between structures and resources. Structures and associations, and association types can all be 'topics' that are mapped to each other and to resources, which are real-world media objects. Since this is all recursive, it is easiest to describe TMs (topic maps) with an example. In the domain of opera, using an example laid out by Steve Pepper in the his paper The TAO of Topic Maps, 'Tosca' is a topic, 'is written by' is an association, and occurrences are the instantiations of this link in identified media. If it sounds like RDF, well, it is, but it's not. . ."

  • [September 14, 2000] "Validating Topic Maps with constraints." By Hans Holger Rath (STEP Electronic Publishing Solutions GmbH). Paper presented at the Extreme Markup Languages 2000 Conference (August 13 - 18, 2000, Montréal, Canada). Published as pages 203-214 (with 14 references) in Conference Proceedings: Extreme Markup Languages 2000. 'The Expanding XML/SGML Universe', edited by Steven R. Newcomb, B. Tommie Usdin, Deborah A. Lapeyre, and C. M. Sperberg-McQueen. "A Topic Map can be expressed validly, in terms of the ISO/IEC 13250 standard, and yet contain information that is inconsistently or incompletely expressed. For example, creators and maintainers of large, complex Topic Maps need ways to use computers to identify trouble spots, such as topics that have been incompletely specified (where the criteria for "completeness" are arbitrary and specifiable). Possible uses of the values of "scope" attributes can be to specify value constraints that can be tested algorithmically. The extensions to the standard that make this possible are minor, and they can express several important kinds of combinatorial constraints." [cache]

  • [September 15, 2000] "Going to Extremes." By Liora Alschuler. From (September 13, 2000). ['Geeks in tweed and metadata maniacs, shapers of the future of structured information representation. The recent Extreme Markup Languages conference had it all. Liora Alschuler was there and reports back on the Topic Maps and RDF head-to-head.]' "XML has to date achieved a degree of syntactic, but not semantic, interoperability. On the Web, you still can't find what you need easily, and when you do, you may not know what it means. Grammars, that is, DTDs and schemas, don't supply meaning any more than the Elements of Style can tell you the size, shape, and location of a certain white whale. (The draft W3C schemas do include a type system, a necessary but not sufficient component of 'meaning.' W3C schemas figured remarkably little in discussion, although a pre-conference tutorial was well attended.) As Jeff Heflin and James Hendler put it, 'To achieve semantic interoperability, systems must be able to exchange data in such a way that the precise meaning of the data is readily accessible and the data itself can be translated by any system into a form that it understands.' The problem is that XML itself has, by design, no semantics. Or, as John Heintz and W. Eliot Kimber said, 'DTDs constrain syntax, not data models. They don't capture abstraction across models, they are simply an implementation view of a higher abstraction.' The conference program was rich in reports of real-world, large-scale implementations actively engaged in the search for meaning, and they were not all focused on Topic Maps or RDF -- although these specs (ISO and W3C respectively) were the most prevalent form of semantic representation addressed. . . Facing the conflict between Topic Maps and RDF head-on, the conference staged a debate between Eric 'RDF' Miller of OCLC and Eric 'Topic Maps' Freese of ISOGEN. Freese and Miller provided this comparison between the two specs: Both (1) are hard to read, (2) share a goal: to tie semantics to document structures, (3) provide a systematic way to declare a vocabulary and basic integrity constraints, (4) provide a typing system, (5) provide entity relationships, (6) both work well with established ontologies. Differences between the two specifications (1) Topic Maps are not XML-specific and have so far been standardized for SGML only. The XML Topic Map activity under the GCA's IDEAlliance is drafting a proposal for such an implementation. (2) RDF is also not XML-specific, but to date has been implemented only in XML. (3) RDF now has which provides a standard way to express and link an ontology; such a schema is proposed for Topic Maps. (4) RDF uses XML linking, Topic Maps use HyTime linking. (5) Topic Maps have explicit scoping. (6) Topic Maps start with the abstract layer and (optionally) link to resources; RDF starts at the resource layer and (optionally) creates an abstract layer. [...] But as C. M. Sperberg-McQueen reminded us in his closing keynote, meaning is always in the instance. It would be reassuring to think that the Topic Map and RDF folks will hold this in mind as they convene their joint meetings and deliberate on the future of angle brackets with metadata. Reducing Tosca to a Topic Map, or a set of directed graphs, and calling the libretto 'mere information,' while calling the metadata schema 'knowledge,' misses a very large and important boat. Again, as Sperberg-McQueen put it, we should all 'resist the temptation to be more meta than thou,' and not lose sight of the importance of the instance itself."

  • [September 14, 2000] "Constructing a navigableTopic Map by inductive semantic acquisition methods." By Helka Folch (Eléctricité de France, Benoit Habert) . Paper presented at the Extreme Markup Languages 2000 Conference (August 13 - 18, 2000, Montréal, Canada). Published as pages 55-61 (with 22 references) in Conference Proceedings: Extreme Markup Languages 2000. 'The Expanding XML/SGML Universe', edited by Steven R. Newcomb, B. Tommie Usdin, Deborah A. Lapeyre, and C. M. Sperberg-McQueen. "Once it has been made, a well-made Topic Map can make desired information easily findable, even when the desired information is a very small part of a very large library of resources. However, the effort involved in making a useful Topic Map for a very large corpus of very diverse materials can be quite large. The Scriptorium Project of EDF (the French national electrical monopoly) makes this problem manageable using several data mining methods including ALCESTE, part of a process that subjects the text content of EDF's enormous backlog of heterogeneous resources to statistical analysis. The semantic classes thus generated become topics in the resulting Topic Maps. A side effect of the process is the division of the library into manageable (<10 Mb) corpora, the identity of each of which is reflected in the "scope" specifications of the resulting topic characteristics." A later version of the paper was published in Markup Languages: Theory & Practice 2/3. [cache]

  • [November 16, 2000] "Semantic Tagging of a Corpus using the Topic Navigation Map Standard." By Helka Folch (Electricité de France [Division Recherche et Dévelopement] 92141 Clamart, France; also Ecole Normale Supérieure de Fontenay/Saint-Cloud UMR8503: Analyses de corpus linguistiques, usages et traitements, 92211 Saint-Cloud, France). Presented at the LREC Workshop "Data Architectures and Software Support for Large Corpora," 30-May-2000, in conjunction with The Second International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC-2000, Athens, Greece). "Our work carried out as part of the Scriptorium project has confronted us with a variety of problems which shed light on important issues related to corpus architectural design, such as the definition of fine-grained textual units, extraction of relevant subsections of the corpus, and in particular linking techniques enabling , text annotation with arbitrary and at times conflicting meta-data. The need for greater flexibility and expressive power for our annotation schemes has led us to apply linking techniques as defined in HyTime (ISO 10744:1992) and Topic Maps (ISO13250). We have used these techniques in particular to construct a semantic map of the corpus which enables hypertext navigation in terms of the topics inductively acquired through text-mining software. Navigation is aided by a 3D geometric representation of the semantic space of the corpus. . . Scriptorium is a project developed in the Research & Development Division of EDF (Electricité de France) in collaboration with ENS (Ecole Normale Supérieure). The aim of this project is to identify prominent and emerging topics from the automatic analysis of the discourse of the company's (EDF) different social players (managers, trade-unions, employees, etc. by way of textual data analysis methods. The corpus under study in this project has 8 million words and is very heterogeneous (it contains book extracts, corporate press, union press, summaries of corporate meetings, transcriptions of taped trade union messages, etc. All documents are SGML tagged following the TEI recommendations. Each document is provided with a descriptive header and is segmented into minimal textual units or chunks (which correspond to paragraphs). Scriptorium is a modular architecture which provides an open framework where different text-mining software can be plugged in. At present the following software has been used: ALCESTE (Reinert, 1987) and ZELLIG (Habert et al. 1999). The results of these text mining tools are integrated into the architecture as structured annotation layers pointing at the relevant locations in the corpus... It is essential for text mining software to run on homogeneous corpora in order to yield relevant results. As we have pointed out above, our document collection is extremely heterogeneous. The concepts underlying the documents cannot be represented in one single semantic space. Therefore we do not attempt to build a semantic representation of the entire corpus through one only analysis. Our approach therefore consists in building sub-corpora of exploitable size which are homogeneous with respect to a given parameter. To this aim, we use an extractor developed using the XML Python libraries which dynamically assembles subsets of text chunks in response to a query. This extractor runs queries concerning the descriptive parameters stored in each document's header as well as fulltext searching constraints. These sub-corpora are then analyzed by the text mining tools, which at present include ALCESTE and ZELLIG. In the following two sections we show how we construct semantic classes with ALCESTE and exploit them to construct a navigable topic map overlaid on the corpus." See also the EAGLES/ISLE Workshop description and references. [cache]

  • [December 05, 2000] SemanText for Topic Maps and Semantic Networks. Eric Freese (ISOGEN International/DataChannel) posted an announcement for the version 0.71 release of SemanText, an open source Topic Map application which can be downloaded from the SemanText web site. SemanText is "a prototype application developed to demonstrate how the topic map standard (ISO/IEC 13250:2000) can be used to represent semantic networks. Semantic networks are a building block for artificial intelligence applications such as inference engines and expert systems. SemanText builds a knowledge base, in the form of a semantic network, from the topic map. New information can be added to the knowledge base and topic map automatically when the user defines rules which are used to infer new knowledge. All of this is done using constructs defined in the topic map standard. The benefit of this is that the new knowledge is then interchangeable with any other topic map enabled system. As more and more topic map enabled applications are developed, the ability to share, interpret, and create new knowledge will be greatly increased. SemanText is written in Python which means that it is platform independent. It uses many existing tools such as the wxPython GUI library, the PyXML libraries, and the tmproc topic map processor. Its user interface provides a simple, intuitive mechanism for working with the topic map information. SemanText uses the constructs defined in the topic map standard to model the knowledge processed and managed by the system. Topics and topic types are used to represent the nodes within the semantic network. The topics and topic types also form a class-instance hierarchy which allows SemanText to infer knowledge about specific topics based on their types. Associations are used to represent the links between the topics. Semantics are attached to the associations which allow the inference engine to build upon the internal knowledge base. Facets are used to store metadata about the topics within the knowledge base. Occurrences, which are not yet implemented, will provide background or source information about the associations and topics within the knowledge base. Scopes and themes are also not implemented currently, but will be used to limit the applicability of certain pieces of knowledge. The power of scoping will allow the inference engine to make inferences based on knowledge which is relevant to a certain set of conditions. SemanText's inference engine allows the user to define and use rules which are then applied to the knowledge base to develop new knowledge based on the relationships between the topics. This 'learning' mode can be switched on and off, in order to minimize impact on the system when the rules are being processed. When learning is activated, any new additions to the knowledge base are immediately examined to determine if they can be used to provide new knowledge to the knowledge base. In the near future, the rules themselves will be stored and managed using topic map constructs. This provides a method for interchanging the inferencing rules in a standard way..." [cache]

  • [September 14, 2000] "Topic Maps: Designing and modelling relationships within complex content corpora." By Ann M. Wrightson (Sweet & Maxwell Ltd.). Paper presented at the Extreme Markup Languages 2000 Conference (August 13 - 18, 2000, Montréal, Canada). "Because of their simplicity and uniformity, Topic Maps can be difficult to apply to complex problems in a structured manner. To alleviate this problem, this presentation offers both: a graphical notation for representing and designing topic maps, based on the core abstractions underlying the standard and examples of structuring complex interrelationships within large corpora of electronic content into distinct domains and categories, and modelling these using topic map abstractions. The examples are based on the author's work with two kinds of complex, highly interrelated content: interactive electronic technical manuals, and legal information."

  • [September 14, 2000] "Topic Maps: Next Generation." By Michel Biezunski (InfoLoom, Inc). Paper presented at the Extreme Markup Languages 2000 Conference (August 13 - 18, 2000, Montréal, Canada). "Topic Maps have been a widely unknown specification until recently. However, since the ISO standard (ISO/IEC 13250) was published in January 2000, it has gained remarkable momentum and many now believe it will become the next important information technology. This paper focuses on the issues relating to Topic Maps that must be addressed in order for Topic Maps to be widely adopted in today's web-centric environment."

  • "Topic Maps Self-Control." By Hans Holger Rath (Director Consulting, STEP Electronic Publishing Solutions GmbH, Technologiepark Würzburg-Rimpar, Pavillon 7, D-97222 Rimpar, Germany; Phone: +49.9365.8062.0; Fax: +49.9365.8062.66; Email: 15 pages. Abstract: "The ISO standard ISO/IEC 13250 Topic Maps offers a flexible and powerful technique for knowledge representation. The standard defines the general concepts and provides -- with intention -- just the necessary minimum of semantic. But knowledge representation requires more semantic -- earlier publications identified 'templates', 'type hierarchies', 'association properties', 'inferences', and 'constraints'. All of them can be expressed as topic maps which simplifies the processing by topic map tools. The paper introduces the 'self-control' of topic maps and models the listed semantics as topic maps." [cache]

  • "Topic Maps at Work." Sponsored by STEP Electronic Publishing Solutions GmbH. Prepared by Hans Holger Rath and Steve Pepper, who are members of the ISO committee developing the Topic Map International Standard. Chapter 1 in XML Handbook, 2nd edition. 18 pages. "The STEP Group is convinced that topic maps are the solution for organizing and navigating large and continuously growing information pools. The topic map standard provides a limited but complete and implementable set of concepts. The combination of the concepts opens up a wide variety of applications. Topic maps are information assets in their own right, irrespective of whether they are actually connected to any information resources or not. Also, because of the separation between the information resources and the topic map, the same topic map can be overlaid on different pools of information, just as different topic maps can be overlaid on the same pool of information to provide different views to different users. Furthermore, this separation provides the potential to be able to interchange topic maps among publishers and to merge one or more topic maps. Because of this, topic maps can generate new business: An 'Information Broker' can design topic maps, sell them separately to the information owner (e.g., publisher), or link the topics to resources from contracted information providers and sell the whole map to the end users."

  • [October 06, 2000] "Thoughts on the relationship between ontologies and philosophies." By Martin Bryan (The SGML Centre). ". . . Ontologies are used to define the relationships between concepts. They record agreed sets of relationships that are relevant to a particular community. They do not generally concern themselves with perceptions or events, but are designed principally to record the results of events. Other knowledge engineering techniques are more concerned with the events ('edges') that link concepts ('nodes'). There are a number of techniques based on graph theory that can be used to record these relationships, including the Unified Modelling Language (UML) . Other related techniques include Stanford University's Complex Event Processor (CEP). ISO 13250 Topic Maps are another mechanism that allows you to record both concepts (called 'topics') and their relationships (called 'associations'). It also includes facilities for assigning characteristics to "occurrences" of topics. One thing that differentiates Topic Maps from some of the other techniques is that they recognize that there is a need to record the relationship between concepts and perceptions. Each topic can be associated with a record of the set of occurrences in which the topic is known to have been perceived... Topic Maps have no mechanism for identifying structured scopes. In Topic Maps scopes reference topics (concepts), so it is possible to have a Ticket scope. But there is no way of showing that a Ticket is relevant to both the Transportation topic, and its sub-classifications, and to the Leisure topic, and its sub-classifications. One could develop a set of hierarchically structures public subject classifications that could be applied to this task, based on something similar to the extensible Universal Decimal Classification scheme (but hopefully not numerically based). But to date this work has not been started." [cache]

  • "Topic Map Technology - The State of the Art." By Graham Moore (STEP UK). XML 2000 Conference. "This paper provides a cutting edge insight into Topic Map software development. However, given the non-static nature of technology the related presentation will present the ideas that are on the edge at the time of the presentation. This paper looks at the implementation issues of building Topic Map technology. This technology is one that support the Topic Map lifetime, from creation and authoring through maintenance and delivery and onto evolution. It focuses specific aspects of these stages such as Topic Map merging and the import and export of Topic Maps. In addressing all these issues it compares and contracts object model design, relational support, Topic Map storage, searching and what interfaces to expose to developers. In this paper we also present how different Topic Map technologies are being, or could be used, in the construction of new information systems. This analysis will provide a template for the construction of other Topic Map systems and provides real world showcase scenarios of the technologies discussed."

  • "Topic Map Cartography - a discussion of Topic Map authoring." By Colin Baird (STEP UK). Presented at XML 2000. "The Topic Map ISO standard essentially defines a syntax that allows someone to create a strongly typed, linked model of an area of knowledge that they are familiar with. This model is a representational device, separate to any number of individual information objects that actually constitute part of that knowledge domain. It can be used to provide navigational access to that knowledge domain and help to describe the routes, or links, that connect together related parts of it. Also, because the syntax of the model is defined by SGML and XML DTDs, it is an 'open' model that can be shared with others. Topic Maps are a tool for creating links between 'things' or concepts based on how they can be typed, named and associated together. One of the hardest things about Topic Maps is trying to understand the simplicity of the concepts that underlie the technology in tandem with the complexity of the 'big picture' that it is possible to derive from it. A Topic Map author starts from this very general platform but ultimately wants to use it to describe very specific instances of their knowledge."

  • [November 17, 2000] Ontopia Topic Map Navigator Publicly Available. A communiqué from Sylvia Schwab announces the public availability of Ontopia's Topic Map Navigator (limited edition): "Ontopia is pleased to announce that you can now download a free version of the Topic Map Navigator directly from the Ontopia website. The Navigator allows you to browse your topic maps in a convenient web interface with no need for programming or configuration. Ontopia will be adding support for the XTM (XML Topic Map) DTD as soon as its been finalized; in the meantime an XML DTD (Document Type Definition) defined by Ontopia is required. If your topic map is valid against the following DTD ( you can load it into the navigator and start browsing it right away. The free version of the Navigator is restricted to only accept topic maps smaller than 5 kilotao in size. This means that the topic map can have no more than 5000 topics, associations and occurrences. The Navigator will expire on 15 April 2001 and is intended for non-commercial use. Shortly before the expiry date, you will be able to upgrade to a trial of our 1.0 version of the software... The Ontopia Navigator is a navigational interface for topic maps built using the Ontopia Engine. It is written as a collection of Java Server Pages (JSPs) that use the Ontopia Engine to load a topic map and produce a navigational web interface to it. This means that the Navigator can be deployed on any web server that supports JSP. It includes a high-level API which enables any Java developer or web-developer with JSP skills to quickly create fully-functional, customised web applications. The resulting interface consists of simple HTML web pages using frames and some very simple JavaScript for the implementation of the default occurrence types extension. This means that the Navigator works with any web browser that supports frames. The Navigator package also includes a reference implementation to provide a starting point for developing new visualisations." This version uses the ISO 13250-based DTD "An XML DTD supported by the Ontopia Navigator 2000-10-24." [cache] [Note: 'kilotao' in the announcement is a suspected Ontopian neologism, derived from "kilo" (1024) + "TAO = 'topic, association, occurrence'," as in "The TAO of Topic Maps,", by Steve Pepper.] For other TM information, see (1) "The Ontopia Topic Map Engine: A Technical Introduction" -- a brief introduction to the Ontopia Topic Map Engine and Navigator for technically oriented readers, by Lars Marius Garshol; (2) online demonstrations of the Navigator; (3) the XTM (XML Topic Maps) Document Web site.

  • [November 22, 2000] empolis K42 Knowledge Server. Jasmin Franz (STEP Electronic Publishing Solutions GmbH) recently posted an announcement for the release of an evaluation version of its 'K42 knowledge server'. Excerpts: "empolis, a world class provider of knowledge management solutions, proudly announces the beta release of empolis K42, its cutting edge knowledge server that is fully compliant with the ISO standard Topic Maps (see The free evaluation is available at Knowledge management is recognised as a crucial part of utilising information assets, whether it is for corporate or commercial publishers. empolis K42 Knowledge Server provides a real time, persistent and scalable solution to approaching knowledge management. Written in Java, in order to aid cross-platform support, it has an extensive API allowing it to be customised and extended to better meet customer's individual requirements. Utilising the latest standards including XML, XLink, Topic Maps, and XTM, empolis K42 provides access to knowledge through its Knowledge Author and Knowledge Navigator components - both of which run within a web browser. The Gartner Group said of Topic Maps: 'the paradigm is powerful, flexible and extensible, topic maps will become a mainstream technology by 2003.' empolis employees are actively involved in the Topic Maps and XTM standard developments. empolis K42 provides a new paradigm for organising, maintaining and navigating information. The information models it stores are independent of the physical domain in which that information resides. These models can provide the routes to information, such as a set of web resources on a server and do not have to be contained within that information. As a result they can be used to deploy information sets in different environments with different requirements, and can also be personalised by individual users and user communities... Some of the highlights of empolis K42 Knowledge Server: (1) empolis K42 provides a Knowledge Author component to enable the creation and maintenance of the knowledge data. It allows the knowledge server to be updated in real time. (2) Knowledge Navigator provides a delivery solution that can be rapidly implemented to enable companies to deliver the knowledge data in their own corporate style through the use of XML and XSL. (3) empolis K42 is written in Java in order to aid cross-platform support and has a comprehensive API to expose the functionality it provides and to enable customisation and integration of the software. (4) empolis K42 has already been tested to persist and provide access to over a million topics and is designed to scale to tens of millions. empolis K42, as a beta version, utilises and supports the Topic Map standard. But empolis K42 is a knowledge server that will enable portals, corporates and communities to capture, manage and deliver valuable knowledge assets. As such, empolis K42 will support not only Topic Maps but will include other such effective standards that help capture and express knowledge."

  • [February 13, 2001]   TM4J - A Topic Map Engine For Java.    Kal Ahmed ( recently announced the availability of TM4J, an open source topic map engine for Java programmers. "TM4J is a small suite of Java packages which provide interfaces and default implementations for the import, manipulation and export of Topic Maps encoded to conform to the XTM (XML Topic Maps) DTD, viz., the XTM syntax defined and specified by Topicmaps.Org. The new download also includes several sample applications, including an experimental topic map navigation application." Binary and source distributions are available for download; terms are based on the Apache Software Foundation license. [Full context]

  • [October 20, 2000] "Mondeca Launches Topic Navigator Software." - "Mondeca is launching its Topic Navigator software solution. The Dynamic Content Navigation program provides users with better methods to access and manage Internet-based data. This is possible as a result of Mondeca's unique content structure as a topic network, and intuitive access to content via spatial navigation tools. No additional programming is required to use the software, and users experience no delays in accessing information. Topic Navigator features template-based content organization, content editing, powerful browsing tools, and is based on an open architecture using as XML, Topic Maps, Java, and EJB. Traditionally, companies have had few choices for intelligent web navigation. Typically, users are restricted to linear page-by-page views of information or random searches when clicking on embedded links that may lead to other web sites or dead-end searches. Neither process is intuitive or efficient. Poorly designed links, hierarchical structures, and multiple searches with no guarantee of end results are all common experiences using today's Internet options for obtaining information. Topic Navigator is scalable, flexible, and secure. In addition, Mondeca software can be integrated with e-commerce tools to direct users towards products in internal or external e-commerce catalogs as they browse the knowledge base. Immediately available, prices for a single license begin at $20.000, with training, consulting, and maintenance extra..."

  • [November 06, 2000] "Enterprises, Knowledge and Change -- Topic Map." By Graham Wideman. 99-05-12. "a map of interconnected topics that currently drive my interests... click on the links to dig down..."

  • [August 04, 2000] "Topic Maps Chart Future Course for XML in Content. [Topic Maps Discover Audience at XML Europe. Trip Report.]" By Liora Alschuler. In The Seybold Report on Internet Publishing Volume 4, Number 11 (July 2000), pages 1, 19-25. ['Topic maps, content management and creation, and some of the innovative newcomers were the talk of attendees at XML Europe 2000 in Paris. The new standard for indexing and organizing hyperlinks was the surprise hit of this spring's XML Europe event. Our trip report explains why and reviews three TM products. Also inside: our first look at Software AG's Tamino, IxiaSoft's TEXTML Server, Signicon's server, and EBT's Engenda. In authoring, we critique Arbortext and SoftQuad upgrades and review newcomers Praxis and HyperVision.'] It is a hard sell to convince any crowd that an ISO spec is going to have a presence on the Web, but you wouldn't have known it from the rapt attention at the 14 topic map sessions and tutorials held during the week of the Paris show. Topic maps are indexes of links, grouped by topic and following a consistent syntax. The bottom line: if you are cataloging information for retrieval on the Web, you should keep on eye on the tools and implementations that use ISO 13250. (The official topic map spec is online at Oak Ridge National Labs' Web site. If the whirl of attention at XML Europe was an orchestrated conspiracy to create buzz, it worked on the conference attendees. How much gets translated into running code and pages served remains up to a larger audience, but there were three vendors showing topic map code in some stage of development, and at least one application developer is betting the farm on the maturation of the tools and was willing to talk about it. (1) STEP previews Java engine: STEP UK is one of the largest SGML/XML consultancies and technology vendors in Europe and has been covered many times by us, most recently when it introduced X2X, a general linking tool first shown in Philadelphia last year. Graham Moore, CTO of STEP UK, developed X2X and also is developing its topic map technology. The company has a Java engine available in beta with a set of classes and interfaces. The engine supports import, export and merging of topic map instances. Users can choose any model for persistent topic map storage, including relational, object-oriented, or in-memory. The beta version includes Web-ready examples and XLink integration, which treats all topics, associations and facet links as XLinks. (2) Ontopia is a six-employee STEP breakaway headed by Steve Pepper, CTO and acting CEO. The company will soon have two engines available: Atlas, which is written in Java, currently in beta testing and will be available under conventional license; and tmproc, which is an open source Python engine and will be available for download soon. Atlas is self-described as a "publishing and navigational framework" for fast development of custom Web applications. It can be used in conjunction with different persistence mechanisms and different interchange syntax (practically speaking, that appears to mean XML, HTML and SGML). (3) InfoLoom targets content creators: Unlike both Ontopia and STEP, the InfoLoom product, from startup InterLoom, is not a general topic map engine, but rather a program for inserting topic maps into content. TMLoom and the Topic Map Loom XSL subset have been under development almost as long as the specification itself. They were written by Michel Biezunski, co-editor of the spec and leader of the XML Topic Map (XTM) effort sponsored by GCA's IDEAlliance. . ."

  • [June 21, 2000] "Navigating Haystacks and Discovering Needles: Introducing the New Topic Map Standard." By Steve Pepper. In Markup Languages: Theory and Practice [ISSN: 1099-6622]. Volume 1, Number 4 (Fall 1999), pages 47-74 (with 19 references). [STANDARDS REPORTS.] "This article provides an introduction to the new topic map standard (ISO/IEC 13250) with particular reference to the domain of encyclopaedia publishing, and discusses the relationship between topic maps and the W3C recommendation Resource Description Framework (RDF). It is based on the author's participation in the development of the topic map standard (representing Norway in SC34, the ISO committeee responsible for SGML and related standards), and two years' collaboration with the leading reference works publishers in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, and Germany... As the amount of information available on the WWW and elsewhere continues to grow at an almost exponential rate, it becomes increasingly difficult to locate the particular piece of information we need: precious time and resources are consumed navigating haystacks of information and those sought-after needles of information become ever more difficult to discover. Two recent standards are designed to provide ways of coping with this problem: ISO/IEC 13250, Information technology -- SGML Applications-- Topic maps and the Resource Description Framework (RDF). This article aims to provide a simple introduction to the basic concepts underlying the first of these, the topic map standard, and to discuss the relationship between topic maps and RDF. In the first section we introduce the topic map standard itself and describe its background, rationale and current status. The second section presents the topic map model along with its key concepts. This is followed by a discussion of some areas of applicability of the topic paradigm to the domain of encyclopaedia publishing. Finally we give a brief overview of RDF and discuss its relationship with topic maps... As Steve Newcomb points out [...], the original interest for topic maps related to the need to be able to merge indexes. This was later extended to other forms of navigational aid: that is, to the electronic equivalents of not only printed indexes, but also tables of contents, glossaries, thesauri, cross references, etc. Common to all these applications is the attempt to provide access to information based on a model of the knowledge it embodies. At the heart of that model lies the concept of the topic. Today it is becoming apparent that the topic paradigm can have even broader applicability. Not only can it serve as the basis for more effective navigation; in many information management contexts it can constitute the fundamental organizing principle for the creation and maintenance of information. In this article we will focus on the domain of reference works publishing, but it is clear that the same approach and techniques are applicable for most branches of commercial and technical publishing, including software and hardware documentation, legal publishing, financial information and many others. The topic map standard defines both an abstract data model for topic maps and an SGML-based serialization syntax. In order to provide maximum flexibility, the standard interchange representation is actually defined in terms of an SGML architecture, or 'meta document type', as specified in the HyTime standard [ISO, HyTime]. A topic map in its interchange form is therefore an SGML (or XML) document (or set of documents) in which different element types, derived from a base set of architectural forms, are used to represent topics, occurrences of topics, and relationships (or 'associations') between topics. The key concepts, then, are: (1) topic (and topic type); (2) topic occurrence (and occurrence role); (3) topic association (and association type). Other concepts which extend the expressive power of the topic map model are those of: (4) scope; (5) public subject; (6) facets..." For other articles in Markup Languages: Theory and Practice Volume 1, Issue 4 (Fall 1999), see the annotated Table of Contents document. cache

  • Topic Map Information from InfoLoom

  • InfoLoom, Inc. InfoLoom, Inc. "is a leading provider of topic map solutions, worldwide."

  • Ontopia A/S - "A new [2000] company dedicated to the development of high quality topic map software..." Principals include Steve Pepper, Lars Marius Garshol, Geir Ove Grønmo. Tel: +47 908 27246.

  • 'Topic maps articles and presentations' - From Ontopia.

  • TechnoTeacher, Inc. - GroveMinder. See the XML-DEV posting from Steven R. Newcomb on GroveMinder's support for Topic Map linking. The reference document on 'Groves' supplies background on this general approach to Topic Map linking; see "Groves, Grove Plans, and Property Sets in SGML/XML/DSSSL/HyTime."

  • STEP UK has developed TopicMap software; see the description for STEP UK's XLink Engine, X2X

  • Topic Maps for the Web [A registered domain]

  • 'The STEP Topic maps website - has been redesigned and relaunched with new content and navigation. This website uses XML, XSL, and X2X technology'.

  • XML Topic Maps (XTM) Frequently Asked Questions - From InfoLoom

  • Presentations on Topic Maps

  • Topic Navigation Maps A proposed set of architectural forms for the definition of topic navigation maps, from The SGML Centre; [mirror copy]

  • [August 09, 2000] "ISKO Working Group - "Knowledge Organization and the Internet." Request for discussion (RfD): "Knowledge organization and management of heterogeneous subject data with Topic Maps and ontologies." Alexander Sigel. [cache]

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