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What are Topic Maps?

What is the difference between Topic Maps and XML?

What are XML Topic Maps?

What is TopicMaps.org?

Why is XTM being Hosted by IDEAlliance?

How can I get Involved?

Is an XML Version of Topic Maps available today?

When can I expect and "official" XML version of Topic Maps?

Question:What are Topic Maps?

Answer:Topic Maps provide for the specification of a standard, interchangeable hypertext navigation layer above diverse electronic information sources.Topic Maps enable us to create virtual information maps for the Web, our Intranets, or even print materials.We have long understood the idea of creating style sheets to control the formatting and layout of information.Topic Maps introduces the concept of creating style sheets to control knowledge-based information access and navigation.

In a technical sense, Topic Maps describe what an information set is about, by formally declaring topics, and by linking the relevant parts of the information set to the appropriate topics. Since they can be in separate documents, and since they can work without changing the source information set, we say that Topic Maps can be applied from "above" the information set, rather than from "inside" them; they are superimposed views. A topic map expresses someone's opinion about what the topics are, and which parts of an information set are relevant to which topics. There is no limit to the number of topic maps that can be created above the same information set.

Topic Maps are specified by ISO 13250, January 2000.

Question:What is the difference between Topic Maps and XML?

Answer:The patterns specified by Topic Maps are documents tagged in SGML (or XML.) An information set that is provided with a topic map can be expressed in any notation, including but not limited to XML and SGML. Topic Maps can be built above many different digital information formats including XML.

While XML tags are directly inserted inside the information source, a topic map is a hyperlinking layer built above electronic information sources. XML information sources are by their nature, static and cannot be dynamically updated when the topic network is required to change.Topic maps work in a layer above the data source and can add flexibility to knowledge management.Information sets do not have to change in any way as numerous topic maps are applied to them to create new knowledge bases.

Question:What are XML Topic Maps?

Answer:Because the Topic Map standard is an ISO standard, the specification of topic maps in the standard are in the ISO language, SGML. There is an SGML Meta-DTD (set of Architectural Forms) to define the tags that make up an ISO/IEC topic map. the maps themselves can be tagged in SGML according to that DTD or in the XML subset of SGML. As it turns out, XML has spawned a whole new family of standards that work with XML in a Web environment such as XSL, XSLT, XPointer, XPath, and XLink. In addition, two schema languages, RDF and XSD are emerging as well. So the specification of how to use topic maps in the XML environment is more complex than simply interchanging a well-formed XML topic map document. Many things must be taken into consideration to assure that Topic Maps will "fit" with the new Web environment. The stated goal of the XML Topic Maps activity, known as XTM is "to engage in technical activities to facilitate the use of topic maps based on XML, including but not limited to application on the Web." Two of the editors of the ISO/IEC 13250 specification have founded this activity and have been co-chairing it until January 2001: Steven Newcomb, and Michel Biezunski.


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