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Examples for applying Topic Maps in MLA

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Besides the use of Topic Maps especially for cataloging data in museums, libraries, archives and in digital collections, but the approach of delivering newspaper content with the help of semantic technologies as well, the Topic Maps standard is also used in other fields of the MLA. This case study presents five projects that used Topic Maps e.g. for developing an E-learning approach or for applying the technology on practices for creating thesauri.

Hálózatos Irodalom

The Hálózatos Orodalom project started in 2004 by the National Library of Hungary. It is an E-learning application on Hungarian literature for secondary school students. The aim was to make a topic map application, open to the public, to show both the real use of Topic Maps and to disseminate Hungarian literature. The topic map was developed by Empolis using their K42 tool.

Current status: Working, up to date.
Source: All informations based on personal communication.

Picture Australia: National treasures

Picture Australia: National Treasures was a temporary Website made for a traveling exhibition of a collection of items from Australian state and national libraries. It toured the country between 2006/2007. This is what its author, Alexander Johannesen, says: it “was designed with my XPF framework, an XSLT-based wrapper and query language for Topic Maps, so all the data items in that collection sits in A topic Map; every picture, every comment, every text, every page, every theme and every note. Yet, the actual site looks pretty much like most other sites out there, so where’s the juice? Well, internally we’ve created a couple of alternative interfaces to the Topic Map with dramatic different results, and although they are not public (and probably never will be, although we thought about creating an interface for kids!) they showed us again what rich hidden information we could get out of data we already had. And that’s an important key to why Topic Maps are so important!”

Current status: Working

Johannesen, A. (2006, May 26). The epistemological implications of Topic Maps for librarians.

Potnia (tool for creating subject pathways using Topic Maps, DC, RDF)

Jesús Tramullas and Piedad Garrido created an application of Topic Maps to develop subject gateways. They guess Topic Maps as a very suitable tool for classifying and organizing information, in conjunction with Dublin Core and RDF.

Current status: Working. See “sourceforge.net”:http://potnia.sourceforge.net/ for more information.

Tramullas, J. & Garrido Picazo, P. (2006). Constructing Web subject gateways using Dublin Core, the Resource Description Framework and Topic Maps. Information Research (11)2.

Chung Hua University Library (pathfinder).

Although there is not much information in English about this project, it is interesting to know that Topic Maps has been used in China to build the Chung Hua University Library pathfinder (or subject guide). Their creators report to have changed its previous simple HTML base to a topic map built with the TM4L tool.

Current status: (Unknown)

Peng, Y., & Ke, H. (2008). The Study of Using Topic Map in Pathfinder. Journal of Library and Information Science, 34(1), 39-61.

Tema Tres

Tema Tres is a tool that was developed by an Argentinian team for creating thesauri. The tool covers a wide rage of features such as the capability of exporting the data in XTM 1.0, RDF or XML, and the output in different formats for example Dublin Core or TopicMap.

Current status: Working

Source: The projects homepage

Subject Matter

The epistemological implications of Topic ...

by Alexander Johannesen 


Quite often I’m asked about the link between libraries and Topic Maps, given that the latter is something that I’ve tried to specialise in. For …

Constructing Web subject gateways using ...

by Jesús Tramullas and Piedad Garrido Picazo 


Specialised subject gateways have become an essential tool for locating and accessing digital information resources, with the added value of …

The Study of Using Topic Map in Pathfinder

by Yu-Xuan Peng and Hao-Ren Ke 


By providing introduction and direction for chosen topics, pathfinders can actively help users. Due to the drawback of paper-based and HTML-based …


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The idea of Topic Maps is essential to enable dynamic information logistic. This requires a system that understands the context of the user to provide relevant informations and options automatically. Therefore semantic analysis is needed organizing content in a dynamic net structure.

Jörg Wurzer
Topic Maps Lab auf der Cebit 2011

Graduate from the Topic Maps Lab