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If you've ever written an ontology in RDF/XML using a text editor, certainly you wanted to poke out your own eyes. Lately I've taken to writing ontologies by hand in TextMate (awesome Mac code editor) in N3 or Turtle syntax, with syntax highlighting. Should I consider Manchester syntax or another serialization format instead? Am I crazy for editing ontologies by hand? Using Protege is liking creating ontologies using training wheels.

asked 24 Sep '10, 14:08

burkestar%201's gravatar image

burkestar 1
accept rate: 0%

I personally prefer Turtle for writing stuff by hand, for editing it I've recently written my own editor - named simply rdfEditor - which I hope to release in the next month or so. It provides syntax highlighting, auto-completion, validate as you type and various export features.

There is a screencast at but the quality is rather iffy as I didn't have a very good video capturer/mic to make it with (looks best at 1080p full screen and is somewhat unviewable at standard resolutions)


answered 29 Sep '10, 07:27

Rob%20Vesse's gravatar image

Rob Vesse ♦
accept rate: 29%

Does it run on Linux? ;-)

(29 Sep '10, 15:08) castagna castagna's gravatar image

Not tried yet, dotNetRDF works under Mono with some issues that shouldn't affect it's usage in rdfEditor but not sure if Mono compiles and runs WPF applications yet - in essence I don't know

(29 Sep '10, 15:30) Rob Vesse ♦ Rob%20Vesse's gravatar image

Just looked it up and Mono does not support WPF so no it won't run under Linux - sorry!

(29 Sep '10, 15:31) Rob Vesse ♦ Rob%20Vesse's gravatar image

Mono recommends Silverlight instead of WPF -

(30 Sep '10, 12:27) burkestar 1 burkestar%201's gravatar image

@Rob - rdfEditor demo looks awesome so far. Planning on releasing open source? If you through the code up on github I'll lend a hand. I'd really like it to support mac.

(30 Sep '10, 12:33) burkestar 1 burkestar%201's gravatar image

It will be open source as part of my dotnetrdf project, you can browse the source on sourceforge at - obviously you can do a anonymous checkout of the repository to get it

(30 Sep '10, 13:32) Rob Vesse ♦ Rob%20Vesse's gravatar image
showing 5 of 6 show 1 more comments

RDF + easiest + by hand = Turtle


answered 28 Sep '10, 10:36

castagna's gravatar image

accept rate: 27%


When i need to create (simple) ontology by hand, I prefer MS Excel (for quickly separating three columns, and a forth column be the terminating . )

  • text processing,
  • quick copy paste columns,
  • Row Filter - to see only one subject, predicate or object :P

Finally copy paste this within a text-editor and replace tabs with whitespaces. You are done.

(Protege just kills you in productivity)


answered 28 Sep '10, 07:01

Ankit%20Jain's gravatar image

Ankit Jain
accept rate: 27%

edited 28 Sep '10, 15:36

Nice idea! Regularly hack N-Triples in flat text, and never thought of doing this.

(28 Sep '10, 15:47) Signified ♦ Signified's gravatar image

sometimes i even import flat files in Excel and do mass editing :)

(28 Sep '10, 20:13) Ankit Jain Ankit%20Jain's gravatar image

I guess the easiest syntax is the one you are more confortable with. It is a question of taste but also of tools. For instance, using RDF/XML can be convenient because most text editors have some built-in XML-related functionalities. I personally edit my ontologies in RDF/XML in a text editor, and I'm quite confortable with it (no joke!). But I admit that RDF/XML is cumbersome and I tend to use Turtle when it comes to communicating examples (in emails, forums, semanticoverflow, etc). Now there is an official OWL/XML syntax [1] which is probably quite nice but I've not yet taken the time to look at it in details. You can take a look at a screencast showing how OWL/XML plays nicely with XML tools [2].


answered 25 Sep '10, 07:36

Antoine%20Zimmermann's gravatar image

Antoine Zimm... ♦
accept rate: 32%


You're not crazy, just eccentric :) Actually, I typically write my RDF by hand as well (Turtle or TriG syntax, using VIM with syntax highlighting). But to be honest, I usually only do this for models of "managable" size (where "managable" is a function of how many other users have to co-edit, the number of classes and relations, and the number of OWL restrictions I need). For more complex stuff I tend to use TopBraid Composer.


answered 24 Sep '10, 14:22

Jeen%20Broekstra's gravatar image

Jeen Broekstra ♦
accept rate: 37%


Thanks :) Is TopBraid Composer more "power user" friendly than Protege?

(24 Sep '10, 16:13) burkestar 1 burkestar%201's gravatar image

"Is TopBraid Composer more "power user" friendly than Protege?" - TopBraid Composer Maestro Edition is the "Mercedes" of Ontology Modelling Tools / Semantic Web Development Environments ;)

(25 Sep '10, 08:51) zazi zazi's gravatar image

At the time we switched from Protege to TopBraid, this was not so much because TopBraid provided more features, it was born out of frustration with Protege's instability (we got a lot of crashes and data loss). That was several years ago though, I hear Protege has improved a lot since then. But apart from that, TopBraid is a great tool with a host of useful features (UML'ish visualisation, rule- and query support, to name just two).

(25 Sep '10, 14:50) Jeen Broekstra ♦ Jeen%20Broekstra's gravatar image
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Asked: 24 Sep '10, 14:08

Seen: 3,565 times

Last updated: 29 Sep '10, 07:27