The Information Workbench - A Platform for Linked Data Applications

Tracking #: 485-1681

Anna Gossen
Peter Haase
Christian Hütter
Michael Meier
Andriy Nikolov
Christoph Pinkel
Michael Schmidt
Andreas Schwarte

Responsible editor: 
Guest editors Semantic Web Interfaces

Submission type: 
Tool/System Report
We describe the Information Workbench, a platform for developing Linked Data applications. The platform features a highly customizable user interface to present the data to the users and realize different interaction mechanisms. UI development is based on Semantic Wiki technologies, enriched with a large set of widgets for data access, navigation, exploration, visualization, data authoring, analytics, as well as data mashups with external data sources. Widgets can be easily embedded into Semantic Wiki pages in a fully declarative way using a simple wiki-based syntax. In this way, the structure and behavior of the user interface can be easily customized to create domain- and application-specific solutions with little effort. Our paper describes the technical architecture of the Information Workbench platform, particularly focusing on the tight coupling between the domain-specific semantic data model and the elements of the user interface, which in turn facilitates UI customization. Furthermore, we describe examples of applying the Information Workbench platform to build applications with semantic interfaces for real-world use case scenarios in different domains, including data center management and semantic content publishing.
Full PDF Version: 

Major Revision

Solicited Reviews:
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Review #1
By Han Woo Park submitted on 08/Jun/2013
Review Comment:

The article suggests a timely platform in an open source context. It is well written and well structured.

Review #2
Anonymous submitted on 18/Jun/2013
Minor Revision
Review Comment:

The authors describe a Semantic Web tool suite called "Information Workbench". This platform includes several modules that aim at facilitating Semantic Web applications. The paper is a nice case study that shows the potential of SW data and how to leverage it. Links to the patform as well as to a demo application are provided and indicate that the Information Workbench is quite mature. The paper is highly relevant to the SWJ audience and the contribution seems to be solid. From a methodical point of view, the paper does not provide overwhelming new insights. However, as the framework is available under an open source licence, I can imagine that readers of the SWJ would be interested in playing around with it.

Nevertheless, I think that the paper would gain from including some more technical details. The components are discussed rather briefly and "sketchy".

Review #3
By Lloyd Rutledge submitted on 08/Jul/2013
Major Revision
Review Comment:

This paper fits the category “Reports on tools and systems” described at It is a short paper, at just over seven papers, describing an implemented system. It is thus not a research paper; this paper offers no new research insights, and has no value other than the system it describes. In addition, the system itself is not a research contribution, but a system that applies many previous external research contributions, albeit hopefully in a novel way that provides an important impact.

The tool is publically available for free-of-charge download and installation, but one must pay for additional features. This paper and tool’s website and online videos and demo show the system to be mature and of high quality. The paper is a clear and readable description of the tool. The system components and features reflect good knowledge of research developments in the field. The system described is one a person with good academic understanding of open data would want.

Next to these positive aspects of this system report are critical remarks. For a publication in a research context, this paper has a relatively high commercial feel. The illustrations, particularly figures one and two, provide little academic information. Instead, they seem like slides from a presentation providing a colorful overview for the product.

In addition, while the paper motivates the system’s components well in terms of start-of-the-art functionality as described by recent academic literature in the field, it lacks any critical perspective of its own system. There are no described limitations of the system appear, nor are there lessons learned, nor things the builders would have done otherwise looking back. The closest to these is some description of future work. A system paper in this journal should not try to convince every reader should download or buy its product, as this paper does. Instead, papers like this should provide information from which the reader can make an unbiased and informed choice about whether to apply this system for a given situation or another.

A final limitation of this paper is the lack of convincingly described impact and importance. The paper does indeed present many features and components and describes adequately why such a system would want them. However, this paper does not convince the reader that its system as a whole has importance as a novel impact. It is thus not clear how the introduction of this system to the collection of similar systems changes the world of Semantic Web systems in a new way.

On page four, “emedded” should be “embedded”. I have noticed no additional spelling or grammatical errors. However, I did not read the paper as an editor. The authors should take extra care to ensure there are no errors before publishing this paper anywhere.