[tdwg-tag] Re-organisation of TDWG Ontology: Danger silence will == acquiescence!

Roger Hyam rogerhyam at mac.com
Tue May 12 10:59:42 CEST 2009

Hi All,

I need to do some work on the Taxon Name and Taxon Concept  
vocabularies and believe I have come up with a good way of organising  
the TDWG ontology space (everything within http:/rs.tdwg.org/ontology).

The following are the changes I suggest:

All files should be OWL DL compliant
All files should be openable in Protege 4 (I believe this is now good  
enough to use for editing these small ontologies)
We take a highly structured modular approach I call this the Bricks  
and Mortar design pattern
Some files are 'Bricks' and as such import or reference no other  
files, classes or individuals. e.g. TaxonName does not mention a  
higher 'Name' object in the class hierarchy.
Other files are 'Mortar'. These files import Bricks and stipulate  
relationships between things. Because we are using OWL it is easy to  
define things like the class hierarchy or the range of a property in a  
separate file to the file the original class or property was defined in.
This pattern gives us maximum re-usability as the same Brick could be  
used in different ways. It does not bind us to any one implementation  
of one object.
An example of the usage pattern would be to define TaxonName,  
TaxonConcept, Rank, NomenclaturalCode as separate bricks that don't  
reference each other at all then create a TCS ontology that imports  
these 4 bricks and defines their relationships.
We move to some other method of presenting the ontologies on line -  
possibly the OWLDoc plug-in for Protege. This would lose us the  
branded look we have at the moment but would be more flexible and  
consistent in the long run.

As I need to do this for the TaxonName TaxonConcept vocabularies I  
volunteer to do manage the space this year if people are happy going  
down this route.

 From the point of view of deployed systems (the nomenclators) there  
may be a need for a namespace change on some properties but I would  
review what is in use and this would be trivial - if necessary at all.

What do you think? I will take silence as acquiescence on the grounds  
that any movement is better than none -  though I don't suppose I will  
get round to doing anything about changes till after e-Biosphere in  

All the best,


  Roger Hyam - Project Officer WP4
  Pan European Species Infrastructure
  +44 75 90 60 80 16

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