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[protege-owl] Query about constructing an ontology based on received OWL-DL fragments on your behalf

William Fitzgerald wfitzgerald at
Tue Feb 7 09:33:16 PST 2012

Thanks Timothy for taking the time to reply.

On 07/02/12 16:35, Timothy Redmond wrote:
>> (1) Is it reasonable to compose an ontology in this way? That is, to be able to receive fragments
>> to add to your local ontology. Of course there are various axioms etc that may also need to be
>> passed with respect to knowledge about classes, properties and individuals. One issue would be to
>> know how much knowledge must one receive about a class, property or individual to provide the
>> intended semantics and so forth. However, that aside, is what I am saying above in principle
>> sensible or even desirable?
> This sounds like a sensible thing to me. These "fragments" that you are talking about are called
> axioms in the OWL DL terminology.

Great. I have an application in the computer security area with which to apply this too ;-)

> One question is how you are going to do this. I would strongly advise you not to move them with a
> text editor in RDF/XML. RDF/XML is one of the hardest serialization formats to work with both
> programatically and from a user perspective. If you are going to use a text editor I would suggest
> you use another serialization format that is easier to work with such as OWL/XML. Protege 4 supports
> a variety of serialization formats most of which are easier to understand than RDF/XML. (On the
> other hand, when you share the file you will probably want to use RDF/XML. It has become the
> standard format for sharing OWL files.)

Perfect, I will look at XML/OWL. I have predominately worked with ontologies using the older Protege 
3 rather than Protege 4. This was due to what I wanted in terms of SWRL. However, I know that 
SWRLTab is due to be ported soon and Protege 4 as I understand it supports a subset of SWRL (DL-Safe 
rules) as is. So its time to look at Protege 4 ;-)

> In addition, a set of tools that you should be aware of in this context are the OWL modularity
> tools. These allow you to provide a set of entities (classes and properties say) and extract from an
> ontology a set of axioms that say everything that is known about those entities based on the larger
> ontology. Sorry I didn't express that well but I believe there is a Protege plugin that does this.

Excellent, I'll look around for such plugins.

> A good approach would be to use a tool to copy the axioms from one ontology to another. Protege 4
> allows you to move axioms from one ontology to another. But it was not clear to me that you could
> copy the axioms which is what you really want.

Hmmm, I'll know more as I play around with Protege 4 and perhaps I can consider workarounds if needs be.

>> Having defined a class Fiesta, I changed within Protege the URI from
>> to I then added to the XML
>> file generated by protege the following xmlns:ford="".
> I think that changing the names like this muddies the waters.

I agree entirely. However, as a test and rather than creating a file with possibly incorrect RDF/XML 
syntax, I decided to let the Protege tool generate a sample file that I knew would be correct. I 
just wanted to inspect how the xml file would look. Based on this file, I was then able to manually 
create a similar file with which to copy and paste into another ontology. Its was more about teasing 
out the idea in my own mind. But your right and I certainly do not intend to go down the route of 
defining and managing raw XML files :-)

>> What I noticed was, with the locally defined class "Car" in the OWL-XML file used "rdf:ID",
>> however when simulating the addition of an owl fragment for class "Fiesta" the OWL-XML file used
>> "rdf:about".
> As you might have noticed from my note, OWL/XML is different from RDF/XML. The OWL/XML format does
> not use rdf:ID and rdf:about.

Having just installed protege 4, I noticed that I can choose an OWL/XML serialisation over and 
RDF/XML version, and their shape (for want of a better word) is completely different.

Thanks, you have given me food for thought.

William M. Fitzgerald (BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD)
Postdoctoral Research Fellow,
Cork Constraint Computation Centre,
Department of Computer Science,
University College Cork,

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