Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Look at Altova SemanticWorks 2006

I had a look at Altova Semanticworks to see if I can hand it to a domain expert as RDF editor (i.e. (s)he's not computer scientist, but knows a lot about the stuff that needs to be modelled). Note that this is not a complete review - I only looked at a part of the functionality (not the OWL stuff) and I looked at it from a "domain expert" perspective.

  • our UI guys always tell us: Mind the blank page phenomena (user sits in front of the newly opened applications and has no clue what to do). The Altova programmers wheren't told that often enough: even with a decent amount of background knowledge I wasn't able to get started without the manual; and that isn't offered to me automatically.
  • I think it's wrong to ask users to type in file paths (of imported rdfs files) by hand - and even that isn't really working and there is no feedback on the correctness of the path. (It may not be clear what I mean: You don't have a dialog to navigate to the file, rather you type in C:/documents/ ... and you can't see the whole path if it gets a bit longer.)
  • the resource detail page works quite well.
  • some imported resources just disappear from time to time (reloading the imported files helps)
  • semanticworks allows to change the rdf file directly (nice!), but seems to only support the XML syntax (what about N3?)
  • I managed to create a file that SemanticWorks would not read back in... (without trying specifically to do so)
There where also some occasions where I got the impression that the program was not really doing what it is supposed to (for example: the imports of rdf(s) files are not attached to a rdf file - rather they seem to be set for the entire application).

So, No! - the way it looks right now, I'll not give this tool to a domain expert. But don't take my word for it - you can try the SemanticWorks yourself (free for a month).