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Microsoft Rubs Shoulders with Open Source

Releases an Ontology Add-in for Microsoft Office Word 2007

Microsoft and the Creative Commons turned up at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference and released an Ontology Add-in for Microsoft Office Word 2007 so authors can add scientific hyperlinks as semantic annotations, drawn from ontologies, to their documents and research papers.

Ontologies are shared vocabularies created and maintained by different academic domains to model their fields of study.

The Add-in is supposed to make it easier for scientists to link their documents to the web in what Microsoft called "a meaningful way."

Microsoft remarks that "the nuggets of information necessary for science to progress are often hard to find, submerged deep within the web, or within databases that can't be easily accessed or integrated. As a result, many scientists today work in relative isolation, follow blind alleys and unnecessarily duplicate existing research."

The Add-in is supposed to address that. It claims that deployed on a wide scale, ontology-enabled scientific publishing will provide a "web boost" to scientific discovery.

It says that Science Commons, a division of Creative Commons, is incubating the adoption of semantic scientific publishing through creation of a robust database of ontologies and development of supporting technical standards and code. And Microsoft Research has built a technology bridge to enable the link between Microsoft Office Word 2007 and these ontologies.

"The Web is broken for scientific researchers - full of hyperlinks of scholarly articles, but it is nearly impossible for us to find what we need," said John Wilbanks, VP for Science at Creative Commons. "The semantic Web tool will help bridge the gap between basic research and meaningful discovery, unlocking the value of research so more people can benefit from the work scientists are doing."

Microsoft is making the source code for both the Ontology Add-in for Office Word 2007 and the Creative Commons Add-in for Office Word 2007 tool available under the Open Source Initiative (OSI)-approved Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL) on CodePlex, Microsoft's Web site for hosting open source projects at http://ucsdbiolit.codeplex.com/ and http://ccaddin2007.codeplex.com/.

As open source the widgetry can be ported to other publishing systems.

There's a Technology Preview of the Add-in, as well as its source code currently available.

The Ontology Add-in for Word 2007 is enabled by Microsoft Office Word's Open XML formats and its extensibility in the form of smart tags.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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