Documenting Ontologies


Apologies if I’m asking this in the wrong place or if it’s been asked before (I missed it if so)

All the best ontologies have human-readable documentation to explain their terms, and they follow a similar format, usually using tables. For examples see DCMI or FOAF

Is there a tool which automatically generates a template for these documents? A friend of mine asked me about this because he wasn’t able to find one which is maintained (and they have some ontologies to publish!), and I thought I’d ask here



In what format is your ontology?
If XML/rdf, it should be possible to use xslt to build html

Thanks :smile: do you know if there’s a similar tool for turtle directly? I guess that I can also serialize it into XML and then build with XSLT

Inrupt has ontology managing/building tools. See Vocabulary — Inrupt JavaScript Client Libraries.

@Timea - I seem to remember you had a friend with a tool like the one requested.

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Also, my own library Solid UI Components - WiP | solid-ui-components has the ability to display ontologies as HTML. See an example of displaying a glossary at

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I am only aware of a commercial solution because I used to work for that company. They had some tools for displaying, in a human-readable way, a thesaurus or an ontology. They called it the Linked Data frontend. Here is an example of the World Bank open data build on that tool: P.s. the ontology driving the documentation and structure is SKOS here.

Nice page!

Wondering if you could add a reference to the RDF-Turtle doc via HTML metadata such that its easier to discover by other user agents.


  1. <link rel="alternate" href="" type="text/turtle" />

  2. <script type="text/turtle"> @prefix xhv: <> . <> xhv:alternate <glossary-data.ttl>. </script> .

Net effect, it’s much easier to mesh your data with others across the Web. For example, here’s what I’ve done with this example, albeit with more clicks than would be required should you incorporate any of the suggestions above into your HTML doc :slight_smile:

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Great idea, thanks @kidehen! When I get time, this will be hosted on and have a permanent location for the RDF so can be reusable any way anyone wants.

Not directly what you are asking, but here’s also some tools that offer more dynamic visualization that may be usable to easily grasp the ontologies in use. Like WebVOWL:

The Inrupt tools around vocabularies (artifact-generator & our “pre-built vocab” packages) are currently only available as alpha releases, so mileage may vary.

What sort of features would people want in a vocabulary tool?

I’m thinking validation, overlaps, recommendations (helping you write good vocabs), code generation, docs, etc. might be all things people might want?

We do have some ideas recorded internally at Inrupt on potential tools beyond the alphas we have out, but nothing particular on the roadmap. It’s also debatable as to whether people will want tooling around vocabs, or whether tooling around shapes would be more useful.

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In the past, I’ve used LODE - Live OWL Documentation Environment, but I think it’s mostly based on XSLT transforms, which requires the ontology being in RDF/XML, and is a bit brittle. I would recommand using WIzard for DOCumenting Ontologies (WIDOCO) | Widoco, which is quite a fully-featured tool to generate ontology documentations.