Commercial Controlled Vocabulary Software Evaluation

Comparative evaluation of thesaurus creation software. (Hedden, 2008)

This article compares three commercial thesaurus creation and maintenance tools; MultiTes, Term Tree 2000, and WebChoir TCS-10. The author sets out requirements for thesaurus maintenance, taken from published standards, that the three tools meet: hierarchical relationships, associated term relationships, ‘used-for’ terms, and optional notes for each term. In addition, all tools support the creation of candidate and approved terms, polyhierarchies, and “disallowing illegal relationships (e.g. circular relationships).”

The following six evaluation measures are used to compare the three tools:

  1. Thesaurus display:
    – alphabetical and/or hierarchical.
  2. Term editing and display:
    – the user interface and controls for creating and maintaining terms.
  3. Searching:
    -ability to search for terms in the thesaurus
  4. User-defined relationships and attributes:
    – the ability to create relationships between terms, such as “broader,” “narrower,” or “related” term; and “use” or “used for.” Additionally, more advanced relationships may be defined by the user to support ontology creation. Terms used in the thesaurus may be categorized for use in a faceted taxonomy. For example, a category of named-entity terms may be useful.
  5. Rules enforcement:
    – the tool should support the user and help them follow rules like prohibiting orphan terms (those who have no broader or narrower terms).
  6. Importing, exporting, and reports:
    – does the tool support batch importing existing thesauri including their relationships. And, does it allow easy exporting to a format that can be imported into other tools? Reports may be useful in multiple formats.

Tools:

MultiTes Pro (http://www.multites.com/)

  1. Thesaurus display:
    – alphabetical display (hierarchical shown in reports).
  2. Term editing and display:
    – terms can be created and related to existing entries simultaneiously
    – relationships cannot be edited, they must first be deleted and new one created
  3. Searching:
    – advanced search supported (ie, search within a note, etc)
  4. User-defined relationships and attributes:
    – does not support user-defined attributes
  5. Rules enforcement:
    – user can delete a term that has narrower terms, allowing for orphans (tool can report orphans however)
  6. Importing, exporting, and reports:
    – imports structured text files, exports and reports in many formats

Term Tree (www.termtree.com.au)

  1. Thesaurus display:
    – alphabetical / hierarchical view
  2. Term editing and display:
    – new terms can be created from existing
  3. Searching:
    – supported
  4. User-defined relationships and attributes:
    – addition of new relationships is no supported
    – addition of categories/attributes is supported
  5. Rules enforcement:
    – user can delete a term that has narrower terms, allowing for orphans (tool can report orphans however)
  6. Importing, exporting, and reports:
    – cannot import XML.
    – exports to many formats: Excel, CSV, XML
    – many report types supported, including KWIC and similar

TCS-10 (www.webchoir.com)

  1. Thesaurus display:
    – hierarchical/alphabetical
  2. Term editing and display:
    – a unique implementation of “use” and “use for”
  3. Searching:
    – guided Boolean search (search within results, etc)
  4. User-defined relationships and attributes:
    – supports user-defined relationships/attributes
  5. Rules enforcement:
    – allow/disallow duplicates and orphans
  6. Importing, exporting, and reports:
    – supports many formats, MARC, XML, ASCII, etc…

Summary

No clear winners, all fulfill basic requirements. All have pros and cons that are need dependent. The author recommends MultiTes as a good value. Customization does not seem to be possible, and only TCS-10 appears to support ontology-like user-defined relationships and attributes.

Citation:
Hedden, H. (2008). Comparative evaluation of thesaurus creation software. The Indexer, 26(2), 50-59.

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