More and more applications can produce XML representation of internal information and save it to shared storage. It helps users to synchronize information on several computers. XML representation also helps to create user communities based on sharing of information. Think about shared calendars, music and picture mixes, blogs, recipes. It’s nice, but it can be much better… with topic maps.
Topic Maps provide “out of the box” support for information sharing and merging. This support is based on ability to explicitly represent subjects and ability to connect any piece of information with subjects.
If we have a blog entry, for example, we have a standard mechanism to express that this entry is related to specific subjects. And we have a standard way to merge information from several blogs. As a result we can easily find all blog entries related to the same subject.
“Pure” XML solutions can encode relationships between information pieces and subjects. But these solutions are based on custom schemas. Each time we need to define custom merging rules which also can include transformations between various XML schemas.
It is time… it is time to promote XTM format as “save as” option for various applications. Applications can use optimized internal data models to implement specific set of functions. But applications can also publish Topic Map – based representations of internal information to shared storage. Other applications can “subscribe” to external topic maps and merge external and internal information. Of course, applications remember source of information so users can keep track of “who said what”.
With “save as XTM” support it will be possible to use “universal topic map browsers” to explore information from different applications. Users also will be able to rely on specific applications with optimized views.