Visualising the effects of ontology changes and studying their understanding with ChImp

Romana Pernisch, Daniele Dell’Aglio, Mirko Serbak, Rafael S. Gonçalves, Abraham Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Due to the Semantic Web’s decentralised nature, ontology engineers rarely know all applications that leverage their ontology. Consequently, they are unaware of the full extent of possible consequences that changes might cause to the ontology. Our goal is to lessen the gap between ontology engineers and users by investigating ontology engineers’ understanding of ontology changes’ impact at editing time. Hence, this paper introduces the Protégé plugin ChImp which we use to reach our goal. We elicited requirements for ChImp through a questionnaire with ontology engineers. We then developed ChImp according to these requirements and it displays all changes of a given session and provides selected information on said changes and their effects. For each change, it computes a number of metrics on both the ontology and its materialisation. It displays those metrics on both the originally loaded ontology at the beginning of the editing session and the current state to help ontology engineers understand the impact of their changes. We investigated the informativeness of materialisation impact measures, the meaning of severe impact, and also the usefulness of ChImp in an online user study with 36 ontology engineers. We asked the participants to solve two ontology engineering tasks – with and without ChImp (assigned in random order) – and answer in-depth questions about the applied changes as well as the materialisation impact measures. We found that ChImp increased the participants’ understanding of change effects and that they felt better informed. Answers also suggest that the proposed measures were useful and informative. We also learned that the participants consider different outcomes of changes severe, but most would define severity based on the amount of changes to the materialisation compared to its size. The participants also acknowledged the importance of quantifying the impact of changes and that the study will affect their approach of editing ontologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100715
Number of pages1
JournalWeb Semantics
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Materialisation
  • Ontology editing
  • Ontology evolution impact
  • User study


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  • DL: ICAI Discovery Lab

    van Harmelen, F. (CoPI), De Rijke, M. (CoI), Siebert, M. (CoI), Hoekstra, R. (CoPI), Tsatsaronis, G. (CoPI), Groth, P. (CoPI), Cochez, M. (CoI), Pernisch, R. (CoI), Alivanistos, D. (CoI), Mansoury, M. (CoI), van Hoof, H. (CoI), Pal, V. (CoI), Pijnenburg, T. (CoI), Mitra, P. (CoI), Bey, T. (CoI) & de Waard, A. (CoPI)


    Project: Research

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