Conceptual modeling languages such as Entity-Relation-Models (ERM), Unified Modeling Language (UML), and Object-Role-Modeling (ORM) are used especially for modeling business domains that then are mapped mainly to relational databases. Do you use any similar tools when creating an ontology or directly start creating classes and properties, for instance in Protegé? I found some research papers on conceptual modeling for OWL, but I doubt that these prototypes are much used in practice, although academic tools like DOGMA look interesting. To answer my own question: my most important tools are pencil and paper for mind-mapping, and I sometimes use ORM before writing down OWL.
P.S: The term "conceptual modeling" seems to have different meaning in database community and semantic web community. In doubt, you may remove the "conceptual" and think about any explicit tools to create artifacts that are translated to RDF ontologies in a next step.
P.P.S: Some candidates for conceptual modeling in ontology engineering, mentioned so far:
There is a number of tools from academia, but in practice they seem to have little relevance.
Gruber defined ontology in information science as:
(see Thomas R. Gruber. Toward Principles for the Design of Ontologies Used for Knowledge Sharing. Toward Principles for the Design of Ontologies Used for Knowledge Sharing, 43:907–928, 1993)
So one can view a specific ontology as a conceptual model. Pencil and paper are really good tools for mind mapping in this context. The important difference one has always to keep in mind, that the other conceptual model types you mentioned are closed views and ontologies are open ones. Regarding specific tools: in TopBraid Composer (Maestro Edition) you have a graphical editor for design your conceptual model, which is really good from my POV.
PS (EDIT): you may have a look at some of John F. Sowa's writings, e.g.,
EDIT3: "Towards an Ontology for Conceptual Modeling" (McCusker et al., 2011)
The DOGMA method and tools have been commercialized by the Vrije Universiteit Brussels’ spin-off company Collibra (http://www.collibra.com/ Business Semantics Management, Studio and Glossary), you can always try contacting them for a trial for research purposes.
DOGMA is a fact-oriented approach for modeling ontologies based on Object Role Modeling (ORM, which NORMA supports). In DOGMA, a community comes to a shared agreement by communicating facts in natural language. Those facts are binary, meaning you can read it in two directions. Both roles must be made explicit. This is different from other formalisms where you can model concepts and properties separately (and even not necessarily need to declare domains and ranges of properties). Note that taxonomy trees can be constructed with the relation “is a / subsumes”.
After a consensus is achieved, the ontology (in DOGMA) can be transformed/implemented in other formalisms such as OWL. Business Semantics Studio does this via OMG’s MOF framework, others (such as Jarrar) have publishes papers on how to translate ORM (and therefore also DOGMA ontologies) into DL.
In short, DOGMA does not aim to replace formalisms more suitable for reasoning or processing, instead it’s a mean to model an ontology using facts and natural language which can be translated into other formalisms later on.
answered 29 Aug '11, 11:23