Geospatial Ontologies in TopBraid Composer
Geospatial information such as latitude/longitude properties can serve as the foundation of many cool Semantic Web applications. It is great to see that the W3C has launched an Incubator Activity to establish a (de-facto) standard RDF vocabulary for geography. A preliminary version of this vocabulary can already be used, and tools are starting to support it.
I have always been very interested in all things related to maps. In fact - beside the library of Lonely Planet travel guides - I have two large world atlases as bedside reading. It was therefore a pleasure to implement geographical mapping support for our ontology platform TopBraid Composer this week. Here is a screenshot of TBC 1.1.3, which has been published today:
The new features allow users to specify coordinates for any resource in an ontology, and to visualize the coordinates in a dynamic (Google) map. I have created a short screencam video to demonstrate how it works:
I particularly like the idea of combining geographical information with intelligent query languages such as SPARQL + Pellet. While these ideas are already being explored by several mash-up scripts and AJAX applications on the Web, I think it is invaluable to also have geographical support inside of an ontology development environment. Full-blown ontology editors can offer much greater flexibility and more rapid turn-around times for schema and instance creation.
There are many more ideas for similar new features in our minds right now, and I am looking forward to bringing ontology design closer to ontology use.