Linking Research

How to (properly) publish a vocabulary or ontology in the web (part 4 of 6)

Posted by dgarijov on October 7, 2013

(Update: purl.org seems to have stopped working. I recommend you to have a look at my latest post for doing content negotiation with w3id)

After a long summer break in blogging, I’m committed to finishing this tutorial. In this post I’ll explain why and how to dereference your vocabulary when publishing it in the Web.

But first, why should you dereference your vocabulary? In part 2 I showed how to create a permanent URL (purl) and redirect it to the ontology/vocabulary we wanted to publish (in my case it was http://purl.org/net/wf-motifs). If you followed the example you would have seen that now when you enter the purl you created in the web browser it redirects you to the ontology file. However if you enter http://purl.org/net/wf-motifs you will be redirected to the html documentation of the ontology. When entering the same URL in Protégé, the ontology file will be loaded in the system. By dereferencing the motifs vocabulary I am able to choose what to deliver depending on the type of request received by the server on a single resource: RDF files for applications and nice html pages for the people looking for information about the ontology (structured content for machines, human readable content for users).

Additionally, if you have used the tools I suggested in previous posts, when you ask for a certain concept the browser will take you to the exact part of the document defining it. For example, if you want to know the exact definition for the concept “FormatTransformation” in the Workflow Motif ontology, then you can paste its URI (http://purl.org/net/wf-motifs#FormatTransformation) in the web browser. This makes the life easier for users when browsing and reading your ontology.

And now, how do you dereference your vocabulary? First, you should set the purl redirection as a redirection for Semantic Web resources (add a 303 redirection instead a 302, and add the target URL where you plan to do the redirection). Note that you can only dereference a resource if you control the server where the resources are going to be delivered. The screenshot below shows how it would look in purl for the Workflow Motifs vocabulary. http://vocab.linkeddata.es/motifs is the place our system admin decided to store the vocabulary.

Purl redirection

Purl redirection

Now you should add the redirection itself. For this I always recommend having a look into the W3C documents, which will guide you step by step on how to achieve this. In this case in particular we followed http://www.w3.org/TR/swbp-vocab-pub/#recipe3, which is a simple redirection for vocabularies with a hash namespace. You have to create an htaccess file similar to the one pasted below. In my case the index.html file has the documentation of the ontology, while motif-ontology1.1.owl contains the rdf/xml encoding. If a ttl file exists, you can also add the appropriate content negotiation. All the files are located in a folder called motifs-content, in order to avoid an infinite loop when dealing with the redirections of the vocabulary:

# Turn off MultiViews
Options -MultiViews

# Directive to ensure *.rdf files served as appropriate content type,
# if not present in main apache config
AddType application/rdf+xml .rdf
AddType application/rdf+xml .owl
#AddType text/turtle .ttl #<---Add if you have a ttl serialization of the file

# Rewrite engine setup
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /def

# Rewrite rule to serve HTML content from the vocabulary URI if requested
RewriteCond %{HTTP_ACCEPT} !application/rdf\+xml.*(text/html|application/xhtml\+xml)
RewriteCond %{HTTP_ACCEPT} text/html [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_ACCEPT} application/xhtml\+xml [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Mozilla/.*
RewriteRule ^motifs$ motifs-content/index.html

# Rewrite rule to serve RDF/XML content from the vocabulary URI if requested
RewriteCond %{HTTP_ACCEPT} application/rdf\+xml
RewriteRule ^motifs$ motifs-content/motif-ontology1.1.owl [R=303]

# Rewrite rule to serve turtle content from the vocabulary URI if requested
#RewriteCond %{HTTP_ACCEPT} text/turtle
#RewriteRule ^motifs$ motifs-content/motifs_ontology-ttl.ttl [R=303]

# Choose the default response
# ---------------------------

# Rewrite rule to serve the RDF/XML content from the vocabulary URI by default
RewriteRule ^motifs$ motifs-content/motif-ontology1.1.owl [R=303]

Note the redirections when the owl is being requested. If you have a slash vocabulary, you will have to follow the aforementioned W3C document for further instructions.

Now it is time to test that everything works. The easiest way is just to paste the URI of the ontology in Protégé and in your browser and check that in one case it loads the ontology properly and in the other you can see the documentation. Another possibility is to use curl like this: curl -sH “Accept: application/rdf+xml” -L http://purl.org/net/wf-motifs (for checking that the rdf is obtained) or curl -sH “Accept: text/html” -L http://purl.org/net/wf for the html.

Finally, you may also use the Vapour validator to check that you have done the process correctly. After entering your ontology URL, you should see something like this:

Vapur validation

Vapur validation

Congratulations! You have dereferenced your vocabulary successfully 🙂

This is part of a tutorial divided in 7 parts:

  1. Overview of the tutorial.
  2. (Reqs addressed A1(partially), A2, A3, A4, P1) Publishing your vocabulary at a stable URI using RDFS/OWL.
  3. (Reqs addressed P2, P3). How to design a human readable documentation.
  4. Extra: A tool for creating html readable documentation
  5. (Reqs addressed P4). Derreferencing your vocabulary (this post)
  6. (Reqs addressed A1 (partially)). Dealing with the license. (To appear)
  7. (Reqs addressed A5, P5). Reusing other vocabularies. (To appear)
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9 Responses to “How to (properly) publish a vocabulary or ontology in the web (part 4 of 6)”

  1. […] How to (properly) publish a vocabulary or ontology in the web (part 4 of 6) […]

  2. […] How to (properly) publish a vocabulary or ontology in the web (part 4 of 6) […]

  3. […] How to (properly) publish a vocabulary or ontology in the web (part 4 of 6) […]

  4. […] How to (properly) publish a vocabulary or ontology in the web (part 4 of 6) […]

  5. […] How to (properly) publish a vocabulary or ontology in the web (part 4 of 6) […]

  6. […] How to (properly) publish a vocabulary or ontology in the web (part 4 of 6) […]

  7. […] How to (properly) publish a vocabulary or ontology in the web (part 4 of 6) […]

  8. […] (Reqs addressed P4). Derreferencing your vocabulary […]

  9. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your
    efforts and I am waiting for your next post thanks once again.

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