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[bioontology-support] [BioPortal] Feedback from mriyayi

John Graybeal jgraybeal at
Mon Feb 8 16:29:15 PST 2021

Hello Dan,

i'm responding here to both your contacts from today, they each had useful information. The ontology Classes tab is consistently showing an error for me as of mid-day Pacific Time today.

I have a theory about why it seemed to change "later", and a theory about what's wrong, but I'm not 100% confident in either. Unfortunately I'm not an ontology expert and we are a very resource-limited, but this will hopefully provide some insight about what has happened and what you might try.

** What's failing **

I'll start with the reason BioPortal is failing to display the ontology classes: it is unable to find the root class for your ontology tree. So it displays one or another error.

If I open your ontology in Protege, I see that there is an apparent root class, OBI_0000070. But it seems Protege is not recognizing your entities below that—it is showing the full string for them within angle brackets < >.

** Ontology diagnosis **

The ExPaNDS:' notation would expand into a full IRI if it could, but ExPaNDS is not included in the ontology prefixes. So these may not be expanding into valid IRIs. (Protege often does its best to parse cases like this anyway, so the absence of errors does not mean the ontology is well-formed.)

In addition, there are unescaped spaces in your IRI terms,

I verified some of this by plugging your ontology into, which indicated in the first parser that it tried (RDF) that the expansion in line 51 did not result in an appropriate IRI. Removing the space seemed to fix that issue.  I didn't try removing all the spaces for lack of time.  You might want

** Why you didn't see this Friday **

I am guessing what changed 'after Friday' is that when you first made changes to your ontology on Friday, they had not been fully reflected in the Classes page display, which can be cached internally in BioPortal for some hours, or even in your browser cache. So you could have been seeing working data from a previous submission, which eventually went away after the cache expired in BioPortal and/or in your browser. I apologize that these delays sometimes happen, I know it is annoyingly confusing.

** What you can try **

Of course you can try eliminating all the spaces and providing the prefix expansion for that ExPaNDS notation, that might take care of it. Getting the file to pass the validator is probably an important step.

Or, if you go back to an ontology you know worked, you could resubmit it and see if (after an appropriate period of time, I'd say that's 2 hours followed by clearing your browser cache) BioPortal begins showing classes again.

If you are unable to make the ontology work after addressing those issues, resubmit your question with the current symptoms and we'll see if there's anything we can add.




On Feb 8, 2021, at 10:34 AM, support at<mailto:support at> wrote:

Name: mriyayi

Email: mriyayi at<mailto:mriyayi at>





The Classes tab is intermittently showing 'Problem retrieving classes'. The OWL file uploaded seems to be fine.

Please can you investigate and let us know.

Kind regards

Subject: [bioontology-support] Error Message -
Date: February 8, 2021 at 10:38:52 AM PST
To: "support at<mailto:support at>" <support at<mailto:support at>>, "Collins, Steve (DLSLtd,RAL,SCI)" <steve.collins at<mailto:steve.collins at>>


I have uploaded an OWL file to

It is intermittently showing an error 'problem retrieving classes'.


It worked last Friday and nothing has changed since then. Please can you investigate

Kind regards

bioontology-support mailing list
bioontology-support at<mailto:bioontology-support at>

John Graybeal
Technical Program Manager
Center for Expanded Data Annotation and Retrieval /+/ NCBO BioPortal
Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research
650-736-1632  | ORCID  0000-0001-6875-5360

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