The Semantic Web is
a new layer of the Internet that enables semantic representation of the contents
of existing web pages. Using common ontologies,
human users sketch out the most important facts in models that act as
intelligent whiteboards. Once models are
broadcasted to the Internet, new and intelligent search engines, “ambient” intelligent
devices and agents would be able to exploit this knowledge
The main idea of SemTalk is to empower end users to contribute to the Semantic Web by offering an easy to use MS Visio-based
graphical editor to create RDF-like schema and workflows. Since the modeled
data is found by Microsoft’s Office XP SmartTags, users can benefit from these Semantic
Webs as part of their daily work with other Microsoft Office products such as
Word, Excel or Outlook.
SemTalk’s graphically configurable meta model also
extends the functionality of the Visio modeling
tool because it makes it easy to configure Visio to different modeling worlds such as Business Engineering and CASE methodologies but also to these features can be applied to
any other Visio drawings.
This paper presents two applied uses of this
Project: Department-wide information modeling at
the Credit Suisse Bank. Main emphasis
was on linguistic standardization of terms. Based
on a common central glossary, local knowledge
management teams were able to develop specialized models for their
decentralized departments. As part of
the knowledge management process local glossaries were continually carried over
into a common shared model.
Management Project: Distributed
process modeling of the Bausparkasse Deutscher
Ring, a German financial institution.
Several groups of students from the Technical University FH Brandenburg
explored how to develop and apply an industry-specific Semantic Web to Business
Documentation, Human Factors
Semantic Web, Business Process Modeling, Glossary and Ontologies
Millions of people and thousands of applications are
adding information to the internet / intranet on a daily basis. Rather than quickly
accessing relevant information or automatically executing remote
applications, time and productivity are lost in the search for information or in hardwiring transaction
connections. Technologies are needed
that semantically understand information requests to deliver desired information or that provide the services necessary to execute remote applications.
As a meta layer of
the HTML Web the Semantic Web stores additional meta information
Similar to whiteboard files or frameworks, most relevant facts are
sketched out in a model.
The Semantic Web is still in its initial stages. Enormous possibilities
for further development can be seen from the increasing number of pages available about semantic webs. Even though concrete applications are still
very rare, the definition of XML standards such as RDF, RDFS and DAML+OIL by
the W3C suggest a growing interest.
Therefore, it is likely that an ever-increasing number of Semantic Web applications will be seen in the near
Based on our early experiences, we predict
that this new technology will spread first within the intranets of larger,
distributed enterprises where there is a continuous demand to fine-tune Knowledge Management structures.
Both the creation and fine-tuning of these knowledge structures are
easily accomplished using Semantic Web technologies. The first step is to
create a central vocabulary within an ontological context and to standardize
The main idea of SemTalk is to empower end users to contribute to the Semantic Web by offering an MS Office based graphical editor . Based on an easy to use Microsoft Visio-based modeling tool, RDF Schemas are
created. Following most of the other
initial product offerings in this area, SemTalk is primarily focused on Knowledge Management applications rather than on intelligent
machines which require a very detailed level of modeling.
SemTalk, using a Microsoft Visio front-end, offers an easy to use editor for semantic
web ontologies and processes. Using a graphically configurable meta model, Visio is then adapted to different modeling worlds such as
CASE Tools and organizational models. These models, with the help of Microsoft Office XP SmartTags, allow
users to use semantic
by-products of their daily work with other Microsoft Office products such as
Word, Excel or Outlook.
This article describes two practical
applications of Semantic Web technology.
The goal of the first project was to create
a department-wide information model within Credit Suisse. Based on a common central
ontology local knowledge
management teams are able to develop specialized models for their decentralized departments.
The second project
involved distributed process modeling of the Bausparkasse Deutscher Ring, a
German financial institution. Several groups
of students from the technical university FH Brandenburg explored how to
develop and apply an industry-specific Semantic Web.
2 Technical Architecture
SemTalk is built on a RDFS-like XML data
structure. Standard RDFS has been enriched
by diagramming information and object oriented features
like methods and states. Optimized structures for basic inferences
such as inheritance and graph traversals are also included. There is an object engine providing a
COM API to allow the engine to be used within MS Office products. Microsoft’s Visio was selected as the
graphical viewer because it is commonly used and because it is completely programmable. An object engine is used to
define the semantic structures/ meta model for the existing Visio shapes. Shapes are graphically
defined and rules are created to specify which shapes are allowed to be
connected to each other.
SemTalk supplies the
infrastructure necessary to define complete modeling methods inside Visio. Examples of
commonly used modeling methods available in SemTalk are DAML, ERP and
the BPM methods. SemTalk also contains
interfaces to CASE tools such as Rational Rose and to Business Process Modeling Tools. There is a simple report generator for
creating HTML tables as well as XSL for formatting. Recently added Ontoprise’s Ontobroker
will give users access to a powerful reasoning engine while modeling and while
using ontologies within MS Office. 
Departmental Information Modeling at Credit Suisse
The project at Credit Suisse consisted of
several workshops to create the basic repository for what was to become a
growing visual glossary. This glossary
is under consideration to be used as a basis for a knowledge management system.
Workshop results were summarized in the form of conceptual models. These models were then published on the Credit Suisse Intranet.
Large enterprises have difficulty
maintaining a common corporate language because of rapid technological change
and the continual integration of smaller companies or departments into larger
conglomerates. This is particularly true in the IT area where there is an
abundance of different architecture descriptions, strategy papers and rapidly
changing technology. The knowledge contained in documents is often strongly
bound to the vocabulary of individuals, and is therefore difficult to
consolidate. Homonyms, words having the same sounds but different meanings,
cause additional problems. Even in the
IT area synonyms are emerging that can have quite different
meanings depending on the department.
3.2 Project Goals
Project goals were both linguistic standardization and to populate a central glossary
that was to be used by people that were either designing or managing
department-specific applications. The goal was not to establish central control
or to mandate application selection; it was to create awareness of available
terms and solutions used by local knowledge managers or members of the modeling
team. In order to ensure that glossary usage became a permanent part of
everyday practice, a general consciousness of usage scenarios for each term had
to be produced. This can be most
effectively accomplished by using SmartTags in Office XP or by using Babylon glossaries. (Bablyon
is an internet based translation and glossary tool with an
installed base of 150 million copies.)
In this project an infrastructure and a base
vocabulary was prepared based on information contained in 100 relevant
documents. Glossaries and/or models needed to be represented in as flexible a
way as possible and in a reusable format such as RDFS so that they can be imported as index structures into technical
applications such as Document Management and Content Management systems.
Similar applications are the automatic document classification system or Portals.
From the start of this project initial
requirements demanded that the glossary be available in the Intranet in a form
suitable for many different types of users.
This meant that it was not acceptable to use complicated technical
notations e.g. UML diagrams.
It was hoped that this project would form
the basis for the structure of future knowledge management systems. “Bootstrapping” such a system is
always complex. If there is not enough content available, the system will not
be used sufficiently and therefore would never begin to develop a life of its
own. However a complete ontology of all objects existing in the enterprise is also not possible. The world is constantly changing and the
language of the enterprise needs to reflect these changes, which implies that a
company-wide glossary is never completed.
Success of the project depended on being
able to publish a glossary with sufficient content and basic graphic
definitions to encourage users to use and update the glossary as
appropriate. This required technology
that is easy to use and integrated with standard office applications.
Similar to the creation and indexing of textual web pages, this is best done if the system appeals to the users
need to participate in the process. Within this scope of this project only the
creation and modeling of a glossary were required.
Web as a Knowledge Management System
The glossary consists of terms with
definition text and Synonym/homonym relationships. Properties and subClassOf relations are explicitly defined. In order
to store information models flexibly, topic maps and RDFS are
popular XML-based technologies.
SemTalk is used as graphic editor. With help from SemTalk and RDFS, the models can be saved as individual HTML web pages in the Intranet with all of their embedded
hyperlinks. This type of the knowledge
representation does not require central maintenance of the complete model, just a coordinated approval mechanism for core
Figure 1: View of a SemTalk Model
Consistency between different partial models
is ensured during the modeling process by the SemTalk consistency Wizard. The Wizard points out which terms are
already used in another model. Instead of modeling the same term again, a
hyperlink to the reference term is inserted. The SemTalk Wizard uses index tables created by the SemTalk RDFS Crawler. This Crawler creates a directory of the
available knowledge within selected areas of Intranet, Internet and within file systems.
These index tables are also used to
interface with MS Office. SemTalk SmartTag is a technology that analyses text while the user is
writing in order to mark the words that are already contained in the glossary
as reference terms or Synonyms. Synonyms that
are found can be replaced by reference terms if necessary. The definitions of
the detected words are available using a single click that will take you to
either the Visio model or to the available HTML representation. This results in substantial savings
during complex manual revision of texts. Credit Suisse also uses glossaries
created with SemTalk via Babylon.
The SemTalk Tool Suite points out documents and text passages to be revised. Specialized local models can be created as part of the document revision process. Models of individual documents or of specialty areas extend
or add specialized components to the general glossary. As each term is used again it can be arranged
in the context of existing terms. Queries of inference engines may reflect this
subclass hierarchy. For example, if the general term
“vehicle” is in the common glossary and “Porsche” is in the local document, you
can search for “vehicle” and find your document about Porsche. If
new terms for the general glossary emerge during document revision, they will be added after they are reviewed.
Knowledge management systems are often initially created via
workshops, usually with expert interviews. Significant savings can be realized
if the Concept
composer from TextTech GmbH  is utilized to extract useful
The Concept Composer is a text miner designed to search larger textual documents. Results are the most common terms and
Concept Presenter in the Intranet with graphic interface, can
be integrated into the HTML Viewer of Semtalk.
Figure 2: The Interface to Concept Composer
Different versions of definitions, associated Synonym/homonyms and text passages can be managed with the SemTalk Glossary. The SemTalk Glossary is the interface
between SemTalk and the Concept Composer.
a list of the most important terms
text from 100 representative documents using the
Results are ranked by the importance of the technical terms. An infrastructure is created for looking up
passages in the text and collocations that show the frequent
word pairs. Concept Composer was used externally as ASP solution.
3-5 days workshops, with up to five experts.
During the workshops the SemTalk Glossary was used for the documentation and administration of
Figure 3: SemTalk
At the end of each Workshop day the
scenarios discussed during the day are modeled graphically in SemTalk. The resulting
graphic models are crucial in helping to simplify the
following discussions. Relationships are
easy to visualize and it is easy to navigate through large amounts of information. Homonyms are shown together in a picture
to emphasize their different meanings.
At the end of the Workshop all central terms are
defined and graphically modeled.
The glossary with all of the graphic representations is then placed on the
Intranet to be used by the enterprise.
Creation of a glossary using SemTalk acts as a knowledge foundation that is designed to dynamically grow in ways that support better
decision making and communication within the enterprise, especially as the
environment changes. The glossary is published on the Intranet. Periodic audits of the contents ensure that the glossary remains
up-to-date and useful. Modification requests are centrally collected and
updates are made on a regular basis with the collaboration of the appropriate
departments. Responsibility for the
maintenance of the models was given to the individuals responsible
for Intranet updates.
3.6 Project Results
Two hundred critical keywords were defined
in seven one day workshops over a period of three months. Approximately 10
departmental representatives defined these keywords during the workshops that
lasted between two hours and three days for each person. Two extra days for finishing the models were needed. Project costs were related to time lost
from work. SemTalk Glossary was strongly felt to be a critical factor
in being able to effectively build a glossary in such a short period of time.
The results were
published in the Intranet and
updated periodically. SemTalk enabled users to access keywords in several different
contexts. The graphical view made it easier to understand the meaning of the
keywords in relationship to each context because both the keyword and
associated words are identified when doing searches.
SemTalk structured project work in a way that enhanced
communication between coworkers from different departments. Additionally,
purposeful revision of the documentation made it easy to
quickly identify which documents needed to be updated, especially if context for a keyword changed.
3.7 Future Perspectives
The glossary created for Credit Suisse has
been tested for more than six months.
Acceptance is still high.
Future projects will significantly benefit
from existing ontologies. Common IT related terms will hopefully be
available as RDFS models on the Internet so that enterprise specific glossaries can further
specialize those global structures.
Process Modeling at the Deutscher Ring Bausparkasse
The primary goal of this distributed process
modeling project was to model Order processing
at the Deutscher Ring Bausparkasse.
This project took place over
several weeks and was done by students from the
University of Brandenburg.
The primary difference between this project
and conventional process modeling
projects was the use of an industry-specific Semantic Web. The
Semantic web allows processes to be easily fine-tuned
and terminological work to be executed more efficiently.
4.1 Conditions and Goals
Two separate groups, each with four
students, modeled a business process in two different
departments. After interviewing
department members, information was modeled systematically in SemTalk. Models of
existing processes were shown next to models of the “to be” processes that showed both the desires
of each department as well as the feasibility of implementing the processes.
The primary customer targets were to make
the processes clearer in the enterprise as well as defining the processes
needed for the new workflow management system.
A significant project goal was to test the
concept of distributed modeling in
the context of the Semantic Web. The project
team examined how communication can be improved within modeling teams and with the end-users.
Based on experiences in large modeling projects, effective distributed modeling requires more support from a tool than just
providing a common repository. Even
though such a repository can sometimes check the syntactic consistency of a model, more support is needed to create a common conceptual
basis for functions, processes and information. This problem becomes more important if processes are
spread between enterprises, e.g. such as the B2B area when different business
partners must map their enterprise languages.
4.2. SemTalk Process Modeling Method
One of the most important philosophies
behind the Internet, and hence Semantic Web, is that information is not copied, it is referenced. Creating links to external pages does not alter the contents of those pages. A flexible information system developed in this way does not have
the consistency of a database but it has the advantage of being able to grow
dynamically. SemTalk does not create individual models, it creates a network of linked models. While the emphasis of the Semantic Web is on pure knowledge representation, or in
the case of Credit Suisse, the modeling of information classes, SemTalk process models can also be created and managed as a grid. Models can be linked with each other or they
can be linked with external models such as models that represent industry-specific standards.
Semantic Web process modeling procedures consist primarily of three steps:
1. Selection of suitable reference libraries
from the Internet
2. Customization of these libraries to fit
3. Creation of the process model using the reference model as a background
4.2.1. The Semantic Web Delivers Reference Models
Our methodology consists of using internet-based reference models that are easy to adapt to users needs. There is an increasing number of
organizations that have developed such models:
is a large ontology which classifies services and products in
order establish common understanding in E-business.
develops an ontology for the Telecommunication Industry
develops a process ontology for representing business processes
develops global transaction standards for the paper
is dedicated to the development and promotion of standardized XML
vocabularies for human resources (HR).
There are also different XML-based languages
being used. Two popular repositories
from the EAI area are BizTalk www.biztalk.org
General XML notation systems are found at www.cyc.com and at Wordnet www.xmlns.com
SemTalk supports different business process modeling methods,
including the representation of enterprise processes named PROMET, a method
developed by Österle at IMG (http://prometatweb.img.com/). In the current project, with its strong focus on internal processes, SemTalk uses the methodology of communication structural
analysis (CSA) developed by Krallmann (http://www.sysedv.cs.tu-berlin.de/Homepage/SYSEDV.nsf/). The students in the Deutscher Ring Bausparkasse project were already familiar with this method because of their
experience with the CSA-based modeling tool Bonapart.
In CSA a process consists of interfaces
between activities connected by information flows made up of information and media. Class models act
as building blocks for these process models. Class models help
to form structured and linguistic consistent process components. This improves re-use and allows object oriented reporting.
With SemTalk the class models in
the Semantic Web are written in standard RDFS and they contain references to other class models. The
class models can be created top-down using existing materials or
bottom-up during workshops. Bottom-up modeling is generally more efficient because it helps to
limit the modeling depth of the class models.
Thinking first about the objects and then over the processes themselves is an
important step in the initial phases of the project. It is also critical to make sure that class libraries are consistent between several small related
This will make it easier to integrate the models later.
An Example of Object Oriented Process Modeling
modification (Figure 4 &
5) is presented in the following example to demonstrate SemTalk’s object oriented modeling method.
Figure 4: Example process Change Address
The key focus
(beyond using Visio’s shapes) is the naming
consistency between tasks and associated business objects. The name of each
task is a combination of the class name specified in
the class model and a particular operation
(verb) that is performed. Information flows may reference
an attribute or a state. Object models are developed
simultaneously as processes are being defined. Object model changes are immediately reflected in
the process models. This technique allows the
creation of consistent and reusable process modules that can be used in even
Figure 5: Class model for example process Change Address
The links to
external models are further explained in the next section.
Support for Distributed Models
SemTalk supports the user during the modeling process using Wizards that monitor the modeling process and offer suggestions. Wizards are implemented as agents that permanently check a given set of rules. Simple
rules are tips about writing e.g. upper/lower case, detecting synonyms and in the investigation of situations where the
inheritance structure appears to be incorrect.
The most important use for the Wizards is to find out whether the user is actually
rebuilding models that already exist on the Semantic Web. Let
assume the user is defining a class named “Vehicle”.
The Wizard will give him a hint that this concept has
been already defined somewhere in another ontology such as ECCMA or WordNet. In this
case the user should create a stub referencing the external definition of
Vehicle as a hyperlink. Based on that hyperlink, the user’s model can later be automatically updated once the definition
of vehicle changes.
Figure 6: Hyperlinking SemTalk Models
A class model can be linked to
various RDFS data sources. Each class can be hyperlinked
to a class in an external model. Single classes or complete models can be replicated
from externally shared models. Although it is not part of
the original intent of RDF, we use the same URN for
encoding identity and location of a class.
The agents are supported by a Crawler, which looks
independently or on request for available models and creates index files for the agents. The Crawler looks not only in the local file system
but also in the Semantic
Web for available
sources of knowledge in the format RDFS.
point of view this project was a success because it resulted in a concrete
blueprint for workflow implementation.
difficulty for participants was the application of object oriented thinking to process modeling. This method significantly differs from the traditional way
business processes are described.
SemTalk models give context to keywords. The Visio editor enables a
wide range of users to use and understand models. The Visio editor helps to
make modeling as simple and
inexpensive as creating HTML web pages. This is a
critical factor if the potential of the Semantic Web is to be achieved.
Adding process modeling to the Semantic Web’s class models broadens the reach
of Semantic Web applications from Quality Management to Process-Oriented
Knowledge Management. It also helps to fill the gap between EAI and
web-based services or E-Government.
Using uniform, consistent, XML-based glossaries enterprises have new
ways to share terminology between applications to ensure the meaningful
integration of Content Management, Document Management and Data Warehouses
solutions. Integrating SemTalk technology into
daily work processes improves the acceptance, and thus the usefulness of the models. Finally, and most importantly, adding a
process context unleashes the powerful and
intelligent information retrieval possibilities
offered by the Semantic Web.
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