TMTab: The Topic Map Tab

TMTab is a plugin for Protégé that allows you to build an ontology which may be exported as a topic map in XTM syntax.

The plugin comes with a base ontology for topic map constructs - such as topics, associations, occurrences and so on - and allows you to create your own derived classes which further constrain the base topic map ontology. Using this tab you can, for example mandate that an association of type "born-in" must be an association between exactly one instace of the "person" topic and one instance of the "place" topic. Better yet, because these constraints are encoded using Protégé's slot constraints, the editing application will automatically present the user with only the topic instances which are valid in a given context.

TMTab's export process is also smart enough to enable topic names, occurrences and simple binary associations all to be specified using slots on the Protégé instance that represents the topic. This enables the topic map author to enter all data regarding a topic on a single form.


Click on a thumbnail to see the full screen in all of its glory!

The TMTab base ontology The TMTab base topic map ontology shown in the Protégé "Classes" View.
TOPIC subclass with constrained name and association slots A custom subclass of TOPIC which has a constrained name slot ("username") and a constrained association-defining slot ("works for"). Note the additional slots ("works for_xxx") which are used to provide association and association role typing information to the topic map generation process. The use of Template Values enables these slots to be given fixed values at the class and so the slots do not need to be completed by users creating new instances of this class. Note that it is also possible to create customised subclasses of the other topic map ontology classes such as ASSOCIATION and NAME in order to provide additional constraints or default values for them.
The TMTab export tab. The "business end" of TMTab - this is where you export the Protégé project as an XTM format topic map. With this release of TMTab, there aren't a lot of export options - hence the boring UI! I expect to add new options to give a much greater degree of control over the topic map generation process in later releases.


0.4.1 is the fifth release of TMTab. 0.4 fixes a nasty problem with exporting projects in which some occurrences are not scoped, and adds the ability to choose how the Model Name slot is exported into the XTM file. Users of all previous versions should upgrade to this version. Existing topic map projects created using previous versions should still be exportable using 0.4. Version 0.4.1 addresses a packaging issue with the 0.4 release and should be compatible in every other way.

TMTab should still be considered experimental and may still contain bugs . If you do find problems with TMTab, please report them to me - if you can include the Protégé project you are working on and / or a detailed description of the problem(s) you are encountering then so much the better.


TMTab has been built and tested against Protégé-2000 v1.6 beta (build 813). The plugin also makes use of the TM4J topic map processing library and the Xerces XML parser, both of which are included in the TMTab distribution.


The TMTab distribution comes with a rudimentary user guide, which may also be browsed online.

Licensing and Download

TMTab is currently distributed in binary form only. I am considering open source licensing options for future releases. Please feel free to redistribute the complete ZIP file, but please do not redistribute parts of it in isolation. As TMTab is experimental software, I provide the software "as is" with no expressed or implied warranty - use it at your own risk!

You can get the latest TMTab distribution ZIP file from here.

Author and Contact Information

Send all bug reports, feature requests and messages of congratulations ;-) to Kal Ahmed. See also for more information about other topic map utilties, consultancy and training.

Kal Ahmed
Last modified: Wed Nov 21 22:18:35 GMT 2001