Monday, July 20, 2009

Towards HAO 0.1

One central premise we're following is to release early, release often. Given this we're planning to release a very early draft of the ontology within the next week or two. We hope that releasing an early draft will drive feedback early on in the projects lifespan. The first releases will undoubtedly contain errors and glaring omissions, but it will also let people start to use the real meat of our project, the ontology itself. The first draft will only include two relationship types (is_a, part_of). As the project continues we'll consider and adopt others (has_part?), there is much talk of integrating spacial relationships (in_contact_with, adjacent_to), but these will have to be carefully reviewed.

To accommodate the editing, review, and tweaking of the ontology we're also starting to ramp up the patches to mx, the underlying editor that we're using to build the ontology. These changes are posted immediately to our SVN repository on Sourceforge (yes, we're considering a move to git). In the future, we plan to split the ontology code out of mx and turn it into a gem (plugin) that any Rails project can easily use.

Curation of the ontology is currently focused on updating all the present definitions to a genus-differentia style, and cross referencing terms to other ontologies. One stumbling point we're hitting is what to do with accented characters, since the OBO specs don't presently permit them.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The HAO team assembles...

The Hymenoptera Anatomy Ontology team continues to grow, with the recent arrivals of Katja Seltmann (2nd from left) from Morphbank and Matt Yoder (far right) from the Platygastroidea PBI. Katja and Matt join István Mikó (far left) from the NCSU Insect Museum, who's been helping me (Andy Deans; 3rd from left) sort out confusing character complexes for the last six months. We now have the critical mass needed to ramp up development of the HAO and associated tools.

In that regard we've set up several outlets for discussion and news reporting, should you be interested:
  1. the HAO Project is on on twitter
  2. you've already found our blog
  3. we post(ed) discussion items (and our proposal) on the HAO wiki
  4. the ontology can be perused on the Hymenoptera glossary website
The HAO currently has 2,408 classes (i.e., anatomical terms) and 2,537 relationships. Our first order of business is to clean up a few terms (e.g., converting a few straggling definitions to genus-differentia) and then deposit the ontology at the OBO Foundry. We'll be growing again in August, with the arrival of a new grad student, and then again in October. Until then watch for frequent updates!