W3C W3C Incubator Report

4.1 Format Development - Methodological Approach

Expanded version of Chapter 4.1 in the W3C Incubator Group Report 15 April 2012

In order to develop some drafts of potential decision representation formats meeting the requirements discussed previously, the activity adopted a highly modular approach. This means that first a set of requirements were selected, e.g. a subset of the requirements of one use case, and subsequently a format was developed to support that specific set of requirements. For the XML and pure RDF format examples below, much of the inspiration has come from the emergency management standards (see discussion in the state-of-the-art section), while the OWL vocabularies were developed 'from scratch' based only on OWL modelling best practices, such as Ontology Design Patterns (ODPs).

There exists a method proposed specifically for reusing Content ODPs, called eXtreme Design (XD) [Presutti2009]. In summary, the idea is to use an agile and iterative approach for developing ontologies. XD is heavily based on reusing ODPs and thereby a divide-and-conquer paradigm is inherent, which also results in highly modular ontologies. When applying XD, first the problem should be divided into pieces based on small stories that describe particular modelling issues (cf. the use case descriptions above), develop modules solving these small partial problems and carefully test them, then integrate the new module into the overall solution and test the overall before proceeding to the next part of the overall problem. For an informal and down-to-earth introduction and tutorial to XD and ODPs see the ODP tour page.

In the course of this Incubator Activity we applied a relaxed version of XD, where for instance pair-design was replaced by asynchronous communication between modellers. However, the main principles of ODP reuse, modularity, task-focus, and testing have been core guidelines during the work. Still, the resulting models should not be viewed as a standards proposal, but merely as an illustration of the feasibility of meeting the requirements listed previously.