VocBench 3: a Collaborative Semantic Web Editor for Ontologies, Thesauri and Lexicons

Tracking #: 2143-3356

Armando Stellato
Manuel Fiorelli
Andrea Turbati
Tiziano Lorenzetti
Willem van Gemert
Denis Dechandon
Christine Laaboudi-Spoiden
Anikó Gerencsér
Anne Waniart
Eugeniu Costetchi
Johannes Keizer

Responsible editor: 
Aidan Hogan

Submission type: 
Tool/System Report
VocBench is an open source web platform for the collaborative development of datasets complying with Semantic Web standards. Since its public release – five years ago – as an open source platform, VocBench has attracted a growing user community consisting of public organizations, companies and independent users looking for open source solutions for maintaining their thesauri, code lists and authority resources. The focus on collaboration, the differentiation of user roles and the workflow management for content validation and publication have been the strengths of the platform, especially for those organizations requiring a distributed, yet centrally controlled, publication environment. In 2017, a new, completely reengineered, version of the system has been released, broadening the scope of the platform: funded by the ISA2 programme of the European Commission, VocBench 3 offers a general-purpose collaborative environment for development of any kind of RDF dataset (with dedicated facilities for ontologies, thesauri and lexicons), improving the editing capabilities of its predecessor, while still maintaining the peculiar aspects that determined its success. In this article, we review the requirements and the new objectives set for version 3, and then introduce the new characteristics that were implemented for this new incarnation of the platform
Full PDF Version: 

Minor Revision

Solicited Reviews:
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Review #1
By John McCrae submitted on 21/Mar/2019
Minor Revision
Review Comment:

This paper is improved over the previous version and more emphasis is given to the comparison with other systems, this still lacks scientific rigour, so I am not so convinced if the system presented is truly superior to some of its competitors. However, the authors have taken my previous comment on board here and the challenge of comparing such systems in rigourous manner is not an easy one to solve, and so should not distract too much from the potential impact of this tool.

A major issue with this paper is that in many parts it reads almost like a list of features of the software, and I would much prefer a shorter paper that did not go into as much detail on the features of the software. In my opinion, the paper would be much improved if Section 4 were drastically shortened and Section 3 reduced as well. However, I can understand that there may be readers who appreciate this level of detail.

However, it is clear that VocBench is a great bit of software and that the improvements that it has made over its competitors makes it in many aspects the best tool for working with terminologies and lexical resources. As such, I still strongly recommend the publication of this article by SWJ, in spite of some concerns about the writing style of the article.

Minor issues
"felt as missing from the system more freedom" => "felt more freedom was missing from the system"
"foundational stones" => "foundation stones"
"Differently from both its predecessors, dealing with thesauri only" => "In contrast to its predecessors, who only dealt with thesauri"
"In special mode, the ability to make new requirements ... easier": This sentence is not complete and I don't understand what is meant with "special mode"?
"making it difficult to predict which shape of SPARQL query will behave as expected": I don't really get what the "shape" of a SPARQL query is and why I would expect it to behave in a certain way??
"no more necessary" => "no longer necessary"
"concur to satisfy": 'concur' is not the right verb here
"actions),terminlogists" (space needed)
"lurkers" is an odd name for users of your software. Wouldn't "guest" be a better (and less pejorative) choice?
"never seen the light out of VB": I don't get this idiom at all, maybe it makes more sense in Italian
"manifested their intention": 'manifest' doesn't sound right in this context, maybe 'show'?
"gap with respect to the desktop version": 'respect to' is not needed here

Review #2
By Fred Freitas submitted on 04/Apr/2019
Minor Revision
Review Comment:

This manuscript was submitted as 'Tools and Systems Report' and should be reviewed along the following dimensions: (1) Quality, importance, and impact of the described tool or system (convincing evidence must be provided). (2) Clarity, illustration, and readability of the describing paper, which shall convey to the reader both the capabilities and the limitations of the tool.

This second version of the article has some valuable improvements, which targeted some of the previous review's comments:

- A (rather long) related work section was introduced;
- A bit less technical details;
- a larger section on OWL support;
- fresh statistical data;

However, although the text is better, it still looks a bit as a description based on the tool refactoring development. Users are most interested in knowing the tool capabilities, instead of which packages were replaced in the new version. With this in mind, here goes some points were the text needs refurbishing:

- I see no usefulness on subsections 3.1, which has a long discussion why a package was replaced by another one, and 3.4.
- Many expressions should be removed, like: "based on YASGUI [34]", "but a reformatting ex-porter for the Zthes27 format is provided as well" (this reviewer could not understand this), "The information of VoID and LIME is being computed through a profiler bundled with the LIME 28 https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/node/145996
API [40].", "Currently an instance for JIRA16 is available." (not only in this point, readers who don't know what is JIRA go off the rails).

Some suggestions, for readability:
- Since the related work section brings a comparison between each competitor environment, like Protege, WebProtege, and others, maybe it is better that each comparison consists in a subsection (Protege, WebProtege,TopBraid, TemaTres and a subsection for the others).
- A new subsection should summarize the comparison, bringing a table comparing features x framework environments, and then pros and limitations of VB3 will be clearer.