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New web site for topic maps available

Date:      Wed, 21 Mar 2001 11:11:00 +0100
From:      Michel Biezunski <>
To:        "Www-Rdf-Interest@W3. Org" <>
Subject:   ANNOUNCE: New web site for topic maps available


I am pleased to announce the birth of a new independent web site I am maintaining together with Steve Newcomb. 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 on which we are working on, now called "'s Processing Model". This document will be updated and completed.

We also intend to publish information on the work we are starting on convergence between RDF and Topic Maps on this site.

We are interested to publish links from this web site to any application, or development of interest in that area (i.e., Processing models, RDF/Topic Maps convergence).

Please send me a mail (mailto:mb@infoloom) if there is information you want us to insert.

Michel Biezunski, InfoLoom
Tel +33 1 44 59 84 29 Cell +33 6 03 99 25 29

Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2001 08:08:02 +0100
From: Michel Biezunski <>
To: Yahoo Groups XTM-WG <>
Subject: New informative web site on topic maps

To the Topic Map Community:

I am happy to announce the availability of a new web site on topic maps, called "". This site will contain the current work in progress on topic maps that Steve Newcomb and I are doing. A new version of the Processing Model for XTM is available, and is now called the "'s Processing Model".

I have resigned from TopicMaps.Org as well as from the XTM Authoring Group (together with Steve Newcomb). It is most important to me that the topic maps community understand why I have done so. The following circumstances have contributed to my decision:

- I have been able, as co-chair, to lead the work in the XTM Authoring Group until the Core Deliverables (XTM 1.0) were published, as planned, on December 4, 2000 at the XML 2000 Conference in Washington. I have been publicly announcing the release of version 1.0, committing to the fact that the DTD was stable, as were the published subject indicators and the conformance clause.

- At the January Meeting of the XTM Authoring Group, there were disagreements coming from the Group and Steve and I were denied authority to continue the work as editors, in a normal way. Any change that we would ever want to introduce for the sake of consistency had to be submitted to the group for vote. Since this process was going to delay the work of the group, I have preferred resigning as editor in favor of those who were able to perform this task with more authority. To me, the most important was to have the specification be published as quickly as possible, while the windows of opportunity were still open.

- My resignation had an unexpected result that the process went quicker and the work for publishing the full version of XTM 1.0 was completed. The new editors have worked very hard to make it possible. The decision to transfer the editorship to a new team should therefore be considered positive in all respects.

- Unfortunately, several errors appear to have been made. The names of the original editors and co-editors have been replaced by the names of the newly appointed editors, causing confusion among the community. The published subject indicator list which was announced in December as dependable, and not subject to changes that might cause referencing documents to lose their value was shortened and most of them were removed. The Processing Model, published as a draft as part of the December 4 deliverables, was removed and replaced by an annex F, "Processing Requirements", which was incompatible and is judged misleading by the previous editors, because it emphasizes syntactical aspects without telling anything about the actual meaning of the specification and how applications are supposed to understand it. Furthermore, annex F is presented as "informative", while the conformance clause has been changed in such a way as to require all XTM applications and topic maps to conform to annex F.

I decided to resign altogether when I learned that a plan had been put in motion whereby the processing model for the XTM syntax would not be developed independently by the XTM group, but rather by an ISO-based group, under ISO rules, beginning with a requirements analysis and ending at some indefinite future date with an ISO standard query language for topic maps. My understanding of the mission of the XTM group was inconsistent with this plan: to publish a Web-oriented specification for topic maps, and to do it more quickly than any other standardization process could do it, mostly by relying heavily on work already done over the past several years.

All these factors prevented me from having any clear vision on how to go further. Topic Maps have been receiving quite a bit of interest lately and there is a strong desire to harmonize with the W3C's RDF recommendation. I remain convinced that if all people involved in the process recognize the interest of agreeing on a single way of understanding of what an interchangeable topic map really means (this might take some time), all opinions should be expressed. Steve Newcomb and I are continuing to contribute the discussion in several ways. We are proposing a graph-based processing model (see a study on RDF and Topic Maps, and other relevant work.

Although the current situation is far from ideal, it can also be interpreted as a sign of good health that many initiatives, coming from different people, are out there, everybody trying to convince others of the interest of his/her approach to topic maps. The discussions I have been having recently make me optimistic about a positive outcome. It looks like there are many people who are looking for improving consistency between the various approaches.

We are not claiming, for now, that there is any official status to the ideas or materials we are publishing at

I intend to continue participating in the discussion.


Michel Biezunski, InfoLoom
Tel +33 1 44 59 84 29 Cell +33 6 03 99 25 29
Email: Web:

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See "(XML) Topic Maps".

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