Real World Applications of Topic Maps
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Real World Applications of Topic Maps
Since the adoption of the topic map ISO standard in 2000 and the release of the XTM specification earlier this year, topic maps have gotten a great deal of attention. The concept has been billed as the be all, end all for knowledge organization and representation. Battles between topic maps and RDF zealots have broken out, with each touting the strengths and advantages of their individual schemes. However, through the din, a common question has arisen from users: "This sounds cool, but what can I use it for in my organization?" Several topic map vendors and architects have developed example topic maps in order to demonstrate the power of the topic map paradigm. However, in most cases, these applications are merely toys and not of much use in a commercial enterprise. They also deal with topics (no pun intended), such as genealogy and music, which are often difficult to map to real-world applications. If potential users are unable to bridge the chasm between the examples and their own potential uses of the paradigm, they are rarely willing to risk dwindling corporate resources to field even a pilot program. In keeping with the conference theme "What Really Works", this paper will present a real-world application of the topic map model in use at a real company. The application includes a parts management system and IETM . The paper will discuss the application and highlight the successes and challenges encountered in designing and implementing the system.