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From Jeff Turner <j...@socialchange.net.au>
Subject Re: Topic Maps for Forrest ? (was RE: Proposal: alternative for book.xml)
Date Thu, 21 Mar 2002 12:50:15 GMT
On Thu, Mar 21, 2002 at 09:49:05AM +0000, Kal Ahmed wrote:
> Hi Jeff,
> 
> There aren't currently as many extant examples of using Topic Maps for 
> websites as there are for using more traditional document-oriented forms of 
> XML and XSLT. However, I think that this is mostly due to the relative 
> newness of the technology (and the difficulty that those responsible for 
> the spec have in explaining it in developer's terms).

Yep. I spent an afternoon reading the XTM spec once. The concept was
very appealing (nicer than RDF), but I couldn't see any practical
application, so I forgot about it.

> That said, those that there are show some of the potential of this
> form of information structuring.
> 
> [1] is a web-site run on Zope using a topic map structure to store the 
> whole backend.
...

Cool.. I see there's even a project for using TMs in Zope:

  "ZTM aims to enable distributed development and maintenance of 'topic
  map'-driven 'semantic' web sites by handling data model information
  items derived from the ISO 13250 and XTM 1.0 as managed content under
  Zope CMF."
   -- http://sourceforge.net/projects/ztm/

> [3] is the TM4J project's ongoing attempt at creating a topic-map driven 
> website. As you will see from the URL, this is very much "under 
> construction". This site is generated using Velocity to process a set of 
> topic maps to generate a whole heap of static HTML pages (because the 
> server we are running on does not have a servlet container). The HTML/CSS 
> needs some tweaking (currently works best in IE) and (as always) the 
> content needs a lot more work (!) but at least it shows that it is doable 
> with open-source software.

Heh.. it looks awful in Mozilla, but the idea that you can automatically
generate a site like that, with links to "is part of", "related info"
etc, is really exciting. A real life Semantic Web. For Cocoon, there
could be FAQ entries that automatically link to relevant sections of
user documentation, or to an automatically-topicmapped mailing list
archive..

> For Forrest, I think that I would start with a topic map for 
> xml.apache.org; a topic map for each project; and then supplement the 
> project topic maps with additional information extracted from the 
> documentation (e.g. by processing index entry tags in the docbook sources 
> or using a doclet to generate topicmapped Javadoc - this is something I am 
> experimenting with for TM4J). But as I say, I'm a relative newcomer... 
> Anyway, hopefully these two sites give you an idea of what kind of things 
> are possible. I would be very interested to hear your comments!

I think it's implicit here that to achieve Forrest's goals, there'll
need a lot more semantic content than your average site. IMVHO that fact
should be made explicit, to the point of making "semantic markup" the
primary focus of Forrest, with the website being simply a frontend.

Have you seen http://www.everything2.com? That's the most mindblowing
example of how powerful this idea behind TMs is. Now imagine a hybrid of
everything2.com, and a regular website.. all generated by Cocoon using
sitemaps, flowmaps and topicmaps..

That's what I hope Forrest could produce :)


--Jeff

(off to do some serious reading-up and playing)


> Cheers,
> 
> Kal
> 
> [1] http://www.itu.no/Prosjekter/1000203716_09/view
> [2] http://luna.itu.no
> [3] http://tm4j.org/tmp/site/tm4j.html
> 
> At 09:12 21/03/2002 +1100, Jeff Turner wrote:
> 
> >Hi Kal,
> >
> >Topic Maps are undoubtedly cool. But how practical are they? Are there
> >any examples on the web of people making real use of TMs? Is there any
> >supporting infrastructure; ie, if we create an xml.apache.org TM, is
> >there something that can render that as a hyperlinked site?
...

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