I Spy an Ontology Helper

Here is what they have to say about their product, OntologyWidget, in the abstract (hosted on BioMed Central) from BMC Bioinformatics:

"We have developed OntologyWidget, an easy-to-use ontology search and
display tool that can be used on any web page by creating a simple html
description. OntologyWidget provides a rapid auto-complete search
function paired with an interactive tree display. We have developed the
web service layer that communicates between the web page interface and
a database of ontology terms. We are currently storing and maintaining
40 of the ontologies on the http://obo.sourceforge.net/ site as well as
a few others."

It piqued my interest, and so I had a play with their "sandbox" website. I was interested, as I'm part of the development team for SyMBA, a multi-omics high-throughput data archive. However, we plan to make OBI available to our users, which is in OWL format, and so OntologyWidget wouldn't be useful "out of the box". However, I like that someone's done what I'd have to do in a web front end anyway, which would save me some hassle if it can be made to work with OWL files. It's released with the MIT Open Source License, which I'm not all that familiar with myself, but which (one assumes) means that others can work on it. The other worry I have is that the paper has only just been published, yet their website states that: "Current version is 1.00. Last updated November 6 2006 – see included documentation for details
". So, perhaps they are updating the ontologies weekly (as they state in the paper), but they don't seem to have updated the code in 10 months or so. Perhaps it's an error on the web page.

I have to say that anything that makes adding ontology terms more easily usable is a fantastic idea, and I'm really glad to see it. We need to have more and easier usage of ontologies. I'll have a little look into this, and see if I like it.

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