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Developer Tool Targets Semantic Web

Companies looking to tap the benefits of the so-called Semantic Web , have a new development tool to consider. TopQuadrant said its TopBraid Composer 2.0, released today, seamlessly supports multiple inference (or reasoning) engines and mash-up  facilities.

The idea behind the Semantic Web is to give data more meaning through the use of metadata , which describes how, when and by whom a particular set of data was collected, and how that data is formatted. Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, has referred to the Semantic Web as being like a great big database."

With a commonality or at least understanding of data types, new applications like mash-ups and knowledge management can be created that link multiple sources of information. This can be a huge asset to corporations and other large organization where information sources have evolved from different silos, explained Dean Allemang, chief technology consultant at Alexandria, VA-based TopQuadrant.

"A lot of our customers already have some kind of big relational databases they don't want to give up, but they also want this merged thing to happen where everything everywhere knows everything else," Allemang told internetnews.com.

The TopBraid Composer 2.0 modeling toolset supports Semantic Web standard languages RDF/S  and OWL (including OWL 1.1 extensions) . TopQuadrant said its Eclipse-based  TopBraid Composer 2.0 allows, for the first time, Semantic Web applications to be developed with unique, flexible and user-customizable hybrid reasoning that allows rules, queries and description logic to be combined to solve significant business problems.

Allemang said one TopQuadrant customer, an engineering firm, estimates it generates 20,000 new documents a day. "They're trying to figure out how to keep up," said Allemang. "Sure you can use Google or other search engines, but these are engineering documents that come out of a structured workflow. A lot of the documents look alike; you have to read three or four paragraphs in to figure out what's different."

But the metadata behind those documents is readily identifiable, and that's what an application designed with TopBraid Composer is designed to look for. TopQuadrant, which started out and continues to offer consulting services, lists Intel, NASA, General Motors, the FAA and the General Services Administration among its customers.

Allemang said some universities and other research facilities have come up with custom and proprietary solutions that address the same problems it's trying to solve with a commercial, standards-based offering.

Nova Spivack, CEO and founder of Radar Networks, said TopBraid Composer is the only commercial-ready ontology design environment that meets the needs of application developers outside of the research community.

"We tried many other, but a lot of the tools were clunky or had bugs, they weren't commercial quality," said Spivack. "TopBraid Composer gives us the ability to build and manage highly scalable ontologies while working with modern capabilities, such as the Eclipse development platform."

Radar Networks, currently in stealth mode, is building what it describes as a major new Web 3.0 online service that will bring the Semantic Web to consumers. "We're enabling the next generation of social software and search," Spivack told internetnews.com.