Visualizing Ontologies with VOWL

Tracking #: 1114-2326

Steffen Lohmann
Stefan Negru
Florian Haag
Thomas Ertl

Responsible editor: 
Guest Editors EKAW 2014 Schlobach Janowicz

Submission type: 
Full Paper
The Visual Notation for OWL Ontologies (VOWL) is a well-specified visual language for the user-oriented representation of ontologies. It defines graphical depictions for most elements of the Web Ontology Language (OWL) that are combined to a force-directed graph layout visualizing the ontology. In contrast to related work, VOWL aims for an intuitive and comprehensive representation that is also understandable to users less familiar with ontologies. This article presents VOWL in detail and describes its implementation in two different tools: ProtégéVOWL and WebVOWL. The first is a plugin for the ontology editor Protégé, the second a standalone application entirely based on open web standards. Both tools demonstrate the applicability of VOWL by means of various ontologies. In addition, the results of three user studies conducted to evaluate the comprehensibility and usability of VOWL are summarized. They are complemented by latest findings from an interview with experienced ontology users and from testing the visual scope and completeness of VOWL with a benchmark ontology. The evaluations helped to improve VOWL and confirm that it produces comparatively intuitive and comprehensible ontology visualizations.
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