As part of our development of a thesaurus web service API and open demonstrator project, we are collecting a list of use cases for terminology services. The document below describes the use cases collected so far, and will evolve as more are added.

This work is an open effort, and we encourage you to join in. We welcome any sort of use case or scenario in the context of terminology services. Please send your use case to Nikki Rogers or to the mailing list.

Use Cases for a Thesaurus Service


This document contributes to Workpackage 8. We show here the results of our initial efforts in collecting a public list of Use Cases for all applications of thesaurus and similar services, typically in distributed environments. These Use Cases will be used as the basis for defining the SKOS thesaurus web service API. The definition of this web service API will then form the basis for effort on Deliverable 8.7 - development of a public Research Prototype Demonstrating RDF Thesaurus Technology. For more information and reports on thesaurus service API and prototype development please see the SWAD-Europe Thesaurus Activity page at We intend the development of these Use Cases to be conducted as a public discussion.

List of Use Cases

  1. Indexing a Web resource for exposure - inclusion - in 'the Semantic Web'
  2. Indexing a Web resource for the benefit of a specific user community
  3. Query support for improved search and browse via a Web search engine
  4. Query support for improved search and browse via some Web Application/tool
  5. Multilingual image retrieval
  6. Tool to parse a document and suggest metadata
  7. Multilingual support for a specialist community
  8. Schema mapping support for a specialist community
  9. Searchable representations of UML modelling
  1. Indexing a Web resource for exposure - inclusion - in 'the Semantic Web': A human end-user browses through hierarchical views on to a particular thesaurus or some other KOS in order to select controlled terms that he/she believes best indicate the subject (or some other property) of the Web resource. These terms will then be embedded in the Web resource's metadata.
  2. Indexing a Web resource for the benefit of a specific user community: Similar to the previous use case, but where the user is a subject specialist - for example a SOSIG (social sciences) cataloguer. The user may wish to be offered preferred/non-preferred terms from more than one potential thesaurus - with thesauri entry points for each - plus the ability to browse through each thesaurus from these points. In this sense, the use case is also "finding the right thesaurus" (as suggested by Dave Reynolds, HP). An advanced version of this scenario might be where a cataloguer wishes to "create my own thesaurus" for a specific purpose (and even share it with other cataloguers) by finding points at which to federate more than one thesaurus, and to then draw up (and save) a subset of the merged thesauri for use in cataloguing.
  3. Query support for improved search and browse via a Web search engine By "improved" searching we tend to mean improved query recall (the end-user's search term is expanded with synonyms/partial equivalents). By browsing we tend to mean support for the user to narrow down/refine their search term(s) in order to produce greater accuracy/relevancy in search results. Alistair Miles has suggested that a tool based on this approach could enhance use of Google for example.
  4. Query support for improved search and browse via some Web Application/tool Similar to the previous Use Case, but in a specialist community context and via a tool that is tailored to the needs of that community - such as a portal that supports cross-search and browse (suggested by Nikki Rogers, ILRT). Depending on the success of user interface designs, and of course user requirements, this sort of tool enhancement could take the form of automated query expansion (invisible to the user), or offer the end-user browse options to aid them to refine their search term(s). This sort of support implies mappings across thesauri/KOS. We note that generally when we refer to mapping across vocabularies we might be referring to a range of contexts - from an "open-world" context (e.g. mapping an open blog categorisation scheme to an open web directory) to a more specialist, library-oriented context (mapping across coherent, managed KOS).
  5. Multilingual image retrieval Although visualising images is independent of language, embedded metadata can be expressed in any natural language, so here thesaurus/KOS support can be used to translate end-user image-related queries to other languages (suggested by Dan Brickley, W3C). We note that there may be links here to use cases encountered for the Simile project.
  6. Tool to parse a document and suggest metadata: A service could be used to receive a full Web resource (for example blog entries - or items, which are metadata about blog entries). The service could extract appropriate document content in order to speculate (via automation) what it is about and thus suggest thesaurus terms with which to mark it up. (In other words, this is like an extension of a query to a thesaurus service that in effect says: "give me a list of preferred and non-preferred terms in some thesaurus Y matching some submitted keyword"). Suggested by Steve Cayzer, HP.
  7. Multilingual support for a specialist community: Similar to the image retrieval Use Case mentioned here, but for a specific community. In this Use Case an end-user may require translation services say for the W3C glossary. This represents a requirement for term mappings across languages in specific contexts where terms used may have specialist meanings not normally otherwise attached to their usage in the course of natural language discourse.
  8. Schema mapping support for a specialist community: As addressed to some extent by the HILT terminologies server in 2003, there is a need to support cross-search and cross-browse tools with mapping across the range of schemas used by searchable data provider services on the Web. This is in order to make end-user query expressions more accurate and mappable across target schemas. Portal cross-search tools for example could make good use of such tool support. This level of support applies at the schema "collection level" as opposed to at "item level". The latter is related to subject indexing by data providers at the record level and is a related but independent area, also referred to in this list of Use Cases.
  9. Searchable representations of UML models used in software development

Maintained by Alistair Miles and Nikki Rogers, last updated 27/09/04.