Notes on 4th SMWCon in Boston

by Philipp Zaltenbach, ontoprise GmbH

SMWCon is the standard term for the Semantic MediaWiki Conference, a semi-structured gathering for users, developers and enthusiasts of Semantic MediaWiki from the corporate, academic and other organizational worlds. SMWCon is planned to be a twice-yearly event, with one meeting in Europe and the other in North America.

Last weekend, the 'SMWCon Spring 2010' took place in Boston at the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It was the 4th meet-up of users, developers and enthusiasts of the Semantic MediaWiki system. This year's convention featured once again a colourful mixture of presentations. There were talks covering development activities and technical challenges, as well as lessons learnt and experiences from applying SMW in commercial settings.

Yaron Koren highlighted in his talk ("State of the software") the rising popularity of SMW by showing the increased volume of the SMW mailing list and the growing number of public wikis using SMW.

It was followed by my talk, where I presented the current status and future roadmap of Halo (see my slides here). The talk gave me the opportunity to promote the Halo Deployment Framework to the community. This really useful piece of software is the SMW-administrator's Aspirine against installation and extension versioning head aches! I can only recommend using it for all SMW installations (read what I does for you here).

I think the other features I presented were well received and the audience provided plenty of useful feedback.

One frequently mentioned wish was to enable a better customization by allowing to use alternative skins with our Halo extensions. This is something we want to tackle in near future and we are aiming at implementing this already for our next release (scheduled for the middle of July).

My personal highlight of this day was the presentation from Clarence Dillon, who realized several SMW projects for governmental institutions such as the U.S. Department of Defense. He noted that SMW is "2x the product; 1/3 the time; 1/2 the cost" compared to an alternative solution they tried to implement prior to the SMW approach. His statement was not only a vague guess but based on hard facts such as saved travel costs or needed realization time.

The saturday started with a presentation from David Karger, local professor at the MIT. He presented approaches such as Exhibit and Dido, which allow for a web-based interactive presentation, filtering and manipulation of data. Exhibit is also available as part of the Semantic Results Formats extension. It was interesting to see that his vision ("Change and layout data directly where you see it in a WYSIWYG manner") is related to our planned 'tabular forms' feature. Next Yaron talked about his idea of overhauling his Semantic Forms extension. An issue that came up was that it would be nice to have more interactive forms for users that allow for a neat and quicker way of entering and editing data. The jQuery Grid Plugin was mentioned as an example of directly editing data.

Yesse Wang presented Ultrapedia. It was really thrilling to see how much things more you could (in terms of deriving insights, data visualization, question answering) with Wikipedia, if it was semantic! Lets keep the fingers crossed that the date when this is deployed on the real Wikipedia is not too far away! Another sapid presentation was the one from Laurent Alquier, where he showed the application of SMW at J&J's pharmaceutical division. In this setting, SMW is used as intranet portal, satisfying various needs, connecting different user groups and interacting with heterogeneous IT systems. This really proves that SMW is more than a wiki, and can serve as integration and mash-up platform in business-critical settings (see [1]). Timothy Quievryn presented his SMW-powered wiki 'The Third Turn' which runs at the hosting platform of Wikia. SMW allows him to realize an interactive, statistical stock car racing site featuring various dynamic views on data such as race result lists, track records and so on.

So SMWCon at Boston was really an exciting event, which was worth the trip from Germany. I was struck that such many communities decided to employ the Halo extension! Thank you for your trust!
I am looking forward to the next SMWCon in fall which will take place at the Open Universiteit located in the city of Amsterdam.

p.s. The talks presented at the SMWCon will be available as videos soon!

CyberForum launches a subnetwork called "SaaS4KMU"

Logo CyberForumThe CyberForum Karlsruhe, one of the biggest regional high-tech corporate networks, launched the "Saas4KMU" subnetwork. SaaS stands for "Software as a Service". The IT industry will offer it as a strategy in order to meet the new of the clients regarding the flexible cost structure and increased scope of functions. It means that there is no more need to install the software on one's own computer or server. Instead, it can be accessed via network or, in most cases, via Internet. The browser can be used to access the respective software and data. In such case, no license has to be purchased. Twelve other companies, including ontoprise, Forschungszentrum Informatik (FZI) and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), team up with the CyberForum Karlsruhe to combine skills, capacities and resources for development and use of innovative SaaS solutions. Such value creating partnership will allow the achievement of the goal, which is to become a joint market leader. "We wanted to create a network that could exist internationally. It is important for us to strengthen the coherence between the KMU and the research facilities. Especially the technology transfer should be supported here", explains David Hermanns, the manager at the CyberForum e.V. A platform that will be provided via the network in cooperation with the partners will enable the promotion of information, cooperation, qualification upgrading and project support. With the help of the joint forces, it will be possible to obtain and process the supported projects as well as big industrial projects.

For more information about the Saas4KMU go to the CyberForum website or send us an email at info@ontoprise.com.

ontoprise is sponsoring the Semantic Technology Conference 2010 in San Francisco

Logo SemTech 2010 sponsorontoprise GmbH is sponsoring the leading international conference on semantic technologies, Semantic Technology Conference (SemTech) 2010, 21 - 25 June, San Francisco. After the successful appearance at the CeBIT 2010 fair, it will be the second time that ontoprise is showing the latest version of "Semantic Content Analytics". It is a solution developed in cooperation with IBM enabling intelligent knowledge gathering from unstructured (text documents, etc.) or structured (database) data as well as its analysis with semantic technologies based on ontologies.

The Semantic Content Analytics is the first outcome of the technological partnership between IBM and ontoprise. This solution combines the properties of the IBM Cognos Content Analytics (CCA) software with those of OntoBroker (developed by ontoprise) yielding an efficient information management tool. The knowledge models developed by ontoprise enhance the analysis options of the IBM software. This one in turn passes new information to the knowledge model where it is then stored in a structured way. The users can only profit from that: they can use the modern and innovative technologies for text analysis, semantic information storage and evaluation, particularly in order to find and use for decision supporting purposes the information that has been hardly accessible so far.

ontoprise was already represented at the IBM main stand in Hall No. 2 at the CeBIT 2010 fair. Both companies presented together the Semantic Content Analytics. Go to youtube (German only) to see a short interview with Hans-Peter Schnurr, CEO from ontoprise.

We will further present ontoprise's Semantic Enterprise Wiki, SMW+ at the SemTech Conference. Daniel Hansch of ontoprise GmbH, will give two talks together with his project partners from Vulcan Inc. They will be about how to successfully employ semantic Wikis in the day-to-day project operations and how to boost Wiki communities by attaching OntoBroker, a ontology repository with reasoning functionality, to MediaWiki. It will also be our pleasure to offer you individual demonstrations of SMW+ 1.5.0 at our stand in the exhibition hall. For more information about his talks please visit the SemTech programm.

Please visit our booth #100 in the exhibition hall. For more information about the SemTech 2010, see the official website or send us an email at info@ontoprise.com.


New partner for ontology engineering and training

Logo jbusse.deDr. Johannes Busse worked for ontoprise as a senior researcher from 2006 to 2010. In April 2010 he started his own business "jbusse.de knowledge engineering". Apart from ontology engineering, consulting and training services related to F-logic and ObjectLogic, he offers to care for and maintain the customer ontologies delivered by ontoprise in the past. He focuses on enriching the existing customer ontologies with new (and mostly free) semantic resources available on the web, like i.e. SKOS-Thesauri for document indexing. Even simple ontology maintenance may add reasonable value it, especially as customers have already invested in the semantic technologies.

For further information about his work and the offered trainings visit his website.