Closing time

It’s just one of those times in your life as a student this week: the final week is neigh so the professors are or have been contemplating the final deliverables and our professor for the seminar is no exception to this rule.
In today’s session, which has been held plenary with all groups.
Yes, all three of them.

The deliverables have been announced, and actually span all work we’ve done so far plus a little bit more. We have to come up with a report concerning the following topics:

  • XML
  • XBRL
  • OWL & Ontologies
  • Transforming XBRL into a Ontology
  • The NTP architecture (optional)

With this document we will also have to bundle the ontology we’ve created, in our case we will possibly bundle the two ontologies we’ve created as we’ve based our transformation-paper almost entirely on the couple of ontologies instead of on just one.

Our professor likes to see, in contradiction to what he has told us before, an ontology in a hierarchical way instead of the linear fashion XBRL-taxonomies are created in. Luckily for us, we’ve been quite hard minded since the beginning of the seminar, so we’ve gone the opposite way from the start: our ontology is built in a completely hierarchical way so this requisite is no problem for us. Tomorrow we will focus on the creation of a paper for MC&I, the seminar will have to wait several days as it’s not thát much work anymore. Most of it is luckily done, so that’s quite a big burden gone for us.

To continue

Yesterday was our session with our professor, and although one of my teammembers had to be somewhere else, it turned out to be a pretty useful session after all.
To get back to my previous post: the professor was slightly disturbed by our questions, and I felt like we offended him as he asked us whether we questioned not only the method we were to have been using but also the seminar’s objective itself. Ofcourse we didn’t so we assured him we weren’t out to mock the seminar in any way, we just had doubts about the path to follow to come to the desired outcome, as neither the path nor the outcome was clear to us.

After handling the slightly awkward situation, we could start talking about the progress we made in enhancing our ontology and the rationale behind all of it. When we were busy explaining it to him, he comes up with some of the creative solutions another group had to a problem we also ran into, so this solution will be taken into account when constructing our next ontology which is quite similar to the one we already created yet far more difficult.
Last time we worked from a very simple ontology based on a very small part of a taxonomy and the accompanying instance-document.
This time we will be working with an official taxonomy, namely a business-report as specified by the NTP. The taxonomy is a balance-report which has to be submitted with a KvK.

This week we have quite a lot deliverables so we’ll be busy for quite a while I guess as we have to create yet another guide, this time a guide to the complete NTP-taxonomy which consists of an entire myriad of sub-taxonomies. I’ll post it when it’s done. Also, we will have to conjure up a new ontology as specified above, and documentation as to how we created the previous ontology specifying the how, when, why and what.
Next week, we will be discussing the final deliverables so it’s make or break time for the entire group. Wish us luck!

Questions posed

Tomorrow, the seminar-class has been canceled as our professor is attending a seminar of his own. It has been rescheduled to Thursday I’ll come back to that then.

While our professor is currently out of town, and even out of our country, we’ve stumbled upon several important questions regarding the transformation of XBRL into OWL, and thus ontologies.
Due to the fact an ontology is designed with several questions which cannot be answered easily in mind, and an XBRL-taxonomy is already set to answer some very specific questions (What was last year’s revenue? How much did we spend on housing? and so on), developing an ontology from that taxonomy is not of any use. When it is just to keep us busy, we can understand but while our professor isn’t able to explain to us what the added value of an ontology is during the group-sessions, we might as well ask him through an email.
And so it is. I’ve just sent an email to him posing several questions with the same subject: Why?

As we get to grips with our more existential questions, we also combined the already constructed ontologies and ‘instances’ to come to a better, more comprehensive and more elaborate version. We are very curious as to how our professor will grade our creation.
I’ll be posting updates soon!

In an ever changing world

Things do change.
They also do in the digital world, and so does this blogging software. I’ve recently upgraded my software to a newer version and have taken the opportunity to check out solutions to issues I’ve been encountering during the use of this blogsoftware.

Luckily for me, I’ve managed to at least solve one of my issues, which is the way I can write the posts in the admin-interface. Out-of-the-box, WordPress offers the administrator a default ‘rich text editor’, however it wasn’t rich enough for me. I was missing some essential parts like the placement of an image (inline vs. wordwrap) and several minor things.
As of today, and I’ve jotted this down often, this is no longer the case. Due to installing a richer editor, FCKeditor, I now have several added functionalities which will make my life easier. It’s going to take me some getting used to though.

After today's college

After showing our professor the, slightly adopted, schema’s displayed in my previous post, we came to the conclusion we were on the right path although some adjustments would have to be made to make up the intelligent solution we aimed for.
Our main concern is converting the different ‘parts’ of a balance, assets and liabilities, into a generic resource or generic resources capable of reuse and/or being inherited from. We’ve come up with a sufficient solution, although it’s still in it’s unpolished state and still neds some TLC in order for it to be ok. As mentioned earlier, there is no tight schedule to adhere to concerning this problem so it might take a while for it to be solved. However, we’re (still) feeling confident. 😉

OWLing away

Dealing with several packages of software, most of them currently available under public licences is an art, and most definately an underestimated knowledge. As most software runs on JAVA, which is not a bad thing, the VM very often needs some modifications to be fully up to speed. With my 1Gb of RAM I’m currently experiencing quite a lot ‘out of memory heap’ errors with the JAVA-enabled programs. It can often be fixed by setting the maxHeapSize to a little more agressive behaviour or simply to a lager maximum, but this requires some knowledge and creative thinking.
Being an information technology student this is ok, but for the average user, fiddling about with the java.exe commandline switches might be a barrier which is too steep. Anyway, that was my rant on programs such as Protegé and currently Owl2Prefuse, a beta-release created by one of my fellow students.

Not being able to do what I want is pretty frustrating, especially if you know it has to work, and it might work if the programmer hasn’t been sloppy in actually programming it. This way I had to focus more on getting my stuff right, instead of focussing on the task at hand; converting an XBLR taxonomy into an OWL ontology.

My fellow students, using different software-titles came up with some pretty astonishing pictures, of which I posted two below.

It took a while…

But then it became clear to all of us: our professor is just trying to get our possible findings published!
(And he is right too! 😀 )

Anyway, today we had the group-session in which the semi-definitive object became clearer. As an assignment for again a group session next week we are to fiddle about with several programs and some XBRL taxonomy to create an ontology. The crux in this is that (of course) we jot our findings down and try to come up with a possibly automatable and hence ‘intelligent’ way of doing so.
As our subject we’ve chosen a taxonomy known to us under the title “DigiForce” which is a relatively simple XBRL-instance about a web shop accompanied by the relevant schema’s.

If we (or I) come up with something useful or otherwise postable I’ll let you know.

Group sessions are ahead

Tomorrow is a big day in the seminar: it’s the day the groups (3 in total) all have separate, semi-individual while in a group, sessions with our professor. Here, we have to lay out our strategy to tackle the problem posed in the first part of the class: How to translate an XBRL-document into an OWL-document.

We’ve been reading a lot, and our team-strategy is to individually read all available matter, come up with our own interpretation of it and combine our thoughts during a meeting scheduled tomorrow before our class. We’ve got about an hour to discuss the way we will tackle the problem, which might just be enough. Due to crammed schedules tomorrow it couldn’t be done any other way so it’ll be like this.

I’m pretty anxious to see how my teammates dealt with it, and I’m also curious about how the other groups plan to do the proposed conversion. We as a group have at least established quite a lot of knowledge about XBRL, OWL and so on which will probably and hopefully make us stand out in some way; that’s always a question whether it actually will. However, I’m feeling pretty confident about tomorrow, we’ll see.

For now, I’m logging off, I’ll put a post up here if anything comes up.

Making my life easier

While computers themselves are meant to make life easier for us humans, they also create a lot of extra problems, including some luxury-problems.

Today, I was having at least one of the last category: I wanted to add an image to a post. In WordPress (this blogsoftware) it can be done, but is far from easy. No thumbnails could be created, nor could an image easily be linked to a (different) url. As of today this has changed as I’ve upgraded my blog with two extra plugins: Flexible Upload and WordPress LightBox. The first enables me to upload an image and create thumbnails at the same time, while the other makes for a fancy WEB 2.0 like presentation of the image.

Thanks guys, I really appreciate your work there, I’m a fan.

Going final

As I mentioned in a few posts, both earlier, I was and still am about to release the documents we created during our seminar.

This day, it is just that time!

XML Guide – Basics for understanding XBRL – v1.0
The Definitive XBRL Guide v1.0
OWL Guide – A complete overview v0.5

Note that, in an attempt to re-enact total paranoia, I’ve encrypted and restricted access to the PDF’s. The reader is able to read the document, but unable to copy anything from it. Printing however, is permitted.

Enjoy your reading and I’d like to thank my coworkers for letting me publish it this way.