XML Topic Maps And Technical Information Systems
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XML Topic Maps And Technical Information Systems
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On first glance, the TM (Topic Map) paradigm appears to be an attractive way to handle the complex structures in which technical information is created and used. A contemporary Technical Information System consists of database items, external files or BLOBS, and an application that knows the meaning (semantics) of all items. TMs offer a way of describing the semantics in the data itself, to build up a self-explaining knowledge store. TMs promise easy integration with TM-based knowledge bases from other sources, technical or not. They also promise generic support for terminology management, semantic search capabilities, inferencing and other useful features. However, challenges are plentiful. Due to the vast amount of information and the needs of the users, Technical Information Systems place high demands on the stability of the underlying software, as well as on its performance. It is not obvious that TMs are suitable to store the structures underlying technical information. The advantages of TMs may be purchased with new disadvantages. This paper is based on the diploma dissertation of Mario Klesse, which was written under supervision of the author, to investigate the usefulness of TMs for Technical Information Systems. Both agree that TMs can be used to describe the information structures, but that the technology is ? at the time of writing the thesis ? not yet mature enough for productive use.