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[ontology-summit] Richness of versioning support

To: Ontology Summit 2008 <ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Evan Wallace <ewallace@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2008 18:38:12 -0400
Message-id: <47FE96D4.5020600@xxxxxxxxxxxx>

All,    (01)

During today's session on Metadata for ontology repositories (see
http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?ConferenceCall_2008_04_10) there 
was a
side discussion regarding configuration management and version labeling 
for ontologies
stored in an OOR.  I think that it would be a good idea to repeat the 
comments and
have follow-on discussion on the mailing list.  To get this started I 
will paste the
comments from today's chat session and include my own response below:    (02)

** Comments from 10 April Ontology of Ontologies session related to 
versioning: **    (03)

AnnWrightson: Following on from the response just now, and thinking back 
to the NASA
presentation on 20-3: though we shouldn't expect the OOR to provide or 
configuration management of ontologies, I guess there should be guidance 
provision of versioning information that will support users who want to 
reuse ontologies
within a strong configuration management or product line development 
environment.    (04)

Michelle Raymond: Ann Wrightson mentions that (paraphased) 'in product line
development environments strong configuration management is required.'  
there are industry product providers that very much MUST point to the 
exact ontology
AND the associated metadata for that ontologies when providing a product 
release.  To
do this now, sometimes the "real" standard can't be linked in, as there 
is concern that it
has remained static or at least a needed level of consistency.  Thus, 
the vendor includes
a copy of the ontology and associated metadata, files, documents and the 
like in there
product release and does not encourage customers to visit the "real" 
source.  This can
be a legal issue of "fair use" when a copy is made.  It is also 
disassociating the product
from the further value potentially available in the "real" ontology and 
the repository that
holds it.  I believe we need to address this issue both in firm rules 
that SHALL NOT allow
revision of a "status=final" ontology and that we must further consider 
requiring some
meta-data associated with an ontology as also being "status=final."  
Comments about
my statements are very much desired as is turning this into a 
conversational thread.    (05)

** end chat comments **    (06)

The reference in the first comment is to the session described at
http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?ConferenceCall_2008_03_20 I 
would guess.
I missed that session and would like to hear more about what is meant by
"we shouldn't expect the OOR to provide or perform configuration 
management of
ontologies".  It's fine to agree that the OOR won't perform the 
configuration management
of its content, but it should provide the ability for ontology authors 
or curators to
create and maintain separate, simultaneously maintained version 
threads.  Failing that
a useful OOR must at least provide the ability to save and persist 
complete snapshots of
an ontology version with its associated metadata.     (07)

I'm really not sure that "status=final"
applies to ontologies (since they may be updated to address problems 
found with them,
changes in the language they were written in, or changes in what they 
represent) but this
snapshotting capability plus a way to review to a shapshot, should give 
you a way to point
to an unchanging version.  The big problem, as I see it, is how to know 
which versions to
reference (e.g., for import) as different components evolve.  This boils 
down to determining
the effectivity parameters for each import.  Chances are you don't know 
them at the time that
facts or ontology extensions are created.  These parameters emerge as 
related components are
revised in ways that are incompatible with the components that are using 
them.    (08)

-Evan    (09)

Evan K. Wallace
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
NIST    (010)

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