Sampo-UI: A Full Stack JavaScript Framework for Developing Semantic Portal User Interfaces

Tracking #: 2493-3707

Esko Ikkala
Eero Hyvonen
Heikki Rantala
Mikko Koho

Responsible editor: 
Tania Tudorache

Submission type: 
Tool/System Report
This paper presents a new software framework, Sampo-UI, for developing user interfaces for semantic portals. The underlying ideas of the framework are based on the "Sampo" model that contains a sustainable business model for publishing and sharing Linked Data based on a shared ontology infrastructure, the idea of providing the end-user with multiple application perspectives to the Linked Data, and a two-step usage cycle based on faceted search combined with ready-to-use data-analytic tooling. The framework draws from longstanding research of the Semantic Computing Research Group since 2002 on developing semantic portals, which has resulted in publishing a series of "Sampo" portals, mostly related to the Cultural Heritage domain, that have had millions of end-users on the Web. The Sampo-UI framework makes it possible to create highly customizable and responsive user interfaces that satisfy the requirements for such portals using current state-of-the-art JavaScript libraries and data from SPARQL endpoints, while saving substantial coding effort. Sampo-UI is published on GitHub under the open MIT License and has been utilized in several internal and external projects.
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Major Revision

Solicited Reviews:
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Review #1
Anonymous submitted on 24/Jul/2020
Major Revision
Review Comment:

This is not a review but a review system artifact that we need to fix. Ignore. Apologies for this.

Review #2
Anonymous submitted on 09/Oct/2020
Major Revision
Review Comment:

Evaluation in brief:
(1) "Quality, importance, and impact of the described tool or system" very high / good
(2) "Clarity, illustration, and readability of the describing paper" poor / needs major revision

The paper describes a framework, called SAMPO-UI, for developing user interfaces for semantic portals.

The contents of the paper are a list of requirements for building effective semantic user interfaces, the description of the Sampo-UI framework for developing user interfaces for semantic portals, and a real case application of the Sampo-UI.

The paper is quite well organized, and well written. The paper fits the scope of the journal.

The general impression is that the work behind the paper, i.e. the creation and release of the framework was long and complex, and the framework is an important contribution to the Semantic Web Community. Unfortunately, the paper does not describe appropriately this framework. The description could be largely improved.

The paper presents some strong points:
- the framework has been built and refined over the knowledge acquired during the deployment of numerous Linked Data applications, it relies on a robust model (the "Sampo model") over which several semantic portals have been defined since 2002
- the framework is open source and is maintained constantly since 2018, moreover the documentation on Github is rich and clear and denotes the maturity of the tool.

On the other hand, the paper presents some weak points that need to be addressed:
- there is a lot of confusion around some concepts that are often used in the paper: Sampo UI framework, Sampo model, Sampo portal, Sampo series, Sampo UI. It is not always clear when they are synonyms or not.
Have all the "Sampo" portals been built by using the Sampo UI framework?
Is the "Sampo series" a collection of semantic portals based on the Sampo model?
- it is a bit strange to read like the first sentence that "This paper presents a new software framework", while when accessing the Git folder, the framework is available since Apr 16, 2018
- the description of the framework is incomplete and not careful: the client-server architecture has been well explained but the visual components of the framework need to be described in detail. Section 4.3 is inadequate.
- the paper is not balanced, the real case application (section 5) has been described with more details than the framework itself, and this mismatches with the title of the paper.
I suggest a deeper presentation of the framework and components that can be instantiated on a real-case application in Section 4. If Section 4 will be expanded, then the current section 5 is appropriate.
- Section 3 should describe all the requirements for Semantic Portal UI, while it is based only on the authors' experience in developing the "Sampo" portals. This is a very strong limitation. Other surveys should be cited to collect a complete list of requirements. For example the requirements from Klímek et al. [21] and Bikakis and Sellis [20] and also Po et al [NEW1]

- page 10, line 9, remove the word "used" from the sentence
- table 1 please explain the "?" (what does "2020?" means?)

[NEW1] - Laura Po, Nikos Bikakis, Federico Desimoni, and George Papastefanatos; "Linked Data Visualization: Techniques, Tools and Big Data"; Synthesis Lectures on Data, Semantics and Knowledge, Morgan and Claypool Publishers 2020.

Review #3
By Peter Haase submitted on 18/Oct/2020
Minor Revision
Review Comment:

The article presents the Samp-UI software framework for developing semantic portal user interfaces. It is submitted as a Tools and Systems Report.
The Samp-UI framework enables the development of user interfaces, providing a comprehensive "starting base" of a full stack JavaScript web application, which can be customized for specific needs.

The focus is on applications in the Cultural Heritage domain; however, the software is in principle usable across domains.
As such, the article about this software is a very good fit for the “Tools and Systems Report” for this journal.
The software is available in open source in GitHub under a permissive license. In addition to the software itself, there is also collateral material for developers and users, including an API documentation of an example portal as well as an actual example application, to get started.

The software has been developed for a long period of time (since 2002) and has undergone a significant evolution since then. It has proven to be sustainable and has shown fairly wide adoption, which is also described in detail with clear evidence in the article.
Specific details are provided through a case study of implementing the user interface in a representative project.

Overall, the article is very well written. It provides a significant amount of technical detail for developers, including discussion of design considerations, but also always emphasizes the value delivered to the user. The capabilities and limitations of the software become clear from the explicit descriptions as well as the multitude of provided examples.

I only have some fairly minor comments / suggestions for improvements:

In the motivation, the article twice mentions a “business model” as integral part of Sampo.
“The underlying ideas of the framework are based on the "Sampo" model that contains a sustainable business model ...“
And “The "Sampo" model includes three parts that specify 1) the “business model” for creating and publishing
…” However, as far as I can see, the article does not discuss any aspects of a business model.
This may be because the term “business model” is used with a different meaning, or the discussion is really missing. In any case I suggest adding an explanation of what is meant by business model in this context.

Further, the motivation claims that Sampo is based on the FAIR-principles, but the article does not describe how. Some explanation would be good.

While related work is fairly extensively discussed, I would have thought to see the metaphacts platform as relevant related work, specifically with its focus on Cultural Heritage and Digital Humanities (see and As a co-author of that work however I would certainly not request this work to be included, but rather leave it to the authors to decide whether they think it is relevant.

Page 8, line 37: build -> built

Review #4
Anonymous submitted on 20/Oct/2020
Review Comment:

The system presented in this work provides several interesting features, considering several end-user’s requirements and scenarios. Additionally, the system is widely used by several organizations and the code is available. However, the paper cannot be accepted.

In general, the presentation and language of the paper need to be improved considerably, in many cases it is extremely difficult to understand the meaning. For example, there are several parts in the text, where the sentences are very long (more than 8 lines), e.g., Section 1, “The novelty of the "Sampo" ...“ (8 lines), “An example of applying the…” (8 lines); Section 2, 2nd paragraph, 1st sentence (10 lines); Abstract, 2nd sentence, etc.

Moreover, I have strong concern regarding the contribution and the technical depth of this work. For example, the authors do not mention possible challenges or innovating ideas. The concepts/methods presented in the paper are well-known.

Finally, the paper does not provide any information regarding the contribution of the SAMPO-UI w.r.t. the existing systems. The related work section discusses (only) the similarities of the SAMPO-UI compared to the related systems, without referring how the SAMPO-UI differs. For example:
Regarding the LD-R, the related work section mentions: “The SAMPOUI framework provides a similar "starting base" for a user interface, which is focused on faceted, ontology-based, and entity-based search interfaces, excluding data editing functionalities.”. Regarding the FERASAT: “The employed design principles: skeuomorphic9, adaptive, and component-based, have been an inspiration to SAMPO-UI.”, etc.
Also, an important issue is that the authors do not point out the differences of this paper w.r.t. their previous works, e.g., [8].