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Revision as of 03:54, December 4, 2009 by Nickdrummond (talk | contribs) (Building Protege4.1 from scratch using ant)

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Protege 4 Developer Documentation

Pointers for developers of plugins and understanding the core APIs of Protege 4.


If you are writing code for P4, please compile it with java 1.5 for compatibility.
All current Protege 4.0 code is written in java 1.5. This will continue to be the case until Apple supports Java 6.

Please consider writing any P4 code as a plugin.
If you cannot do this for various reasons, please let us know as we may be able to improve the core design in order to support you.
Protege 4.0 has been written specifically to be modular. It uses equinox, one implementation of an OSGi framework to allow plugins to be created easily.

Please share.
It is surprising how many people have written plugins for P4 that we just don't hear about.
If you wish to publish to the community, please see our notes on code contributions.

Working with the Protege source code

Compiling and Running

Protege 4 OWL editor in IntelliJ

Protege 4 OWL editor in Eclipse

Protege 4 OWL editor in a Generic IDE

This section describes how to set up an IDE for plugin development. While we have used eclipse to illustrate these pages, we have tried to describe an approach that is generic and will work for all IDE platforms. We welcome others to add pages above to describe how to get Protege 4 running in their favorite IDE. We describe this in two steps - first the core Protege sources are downloaded and compiled and then a plugin project is created.

  • Downloading, compiling and running the core Protege sources. The following links cover much the same ground.

Building Protege4.1 from scratch using ant

First you must set the PROTEGE_HOME environment variable which is described here. Then you can build Protege 4.1 by following the following steps.

  1. svn checkout protege-base
  2. cd protege-base and ant install and cd ... Warning: this step deletes the existing contents of ${PROTEGE_HOME}.
  3. svn checkout org.protege.common
  4. cd org.protege.common and ant install' and cd ..
  5. svn checkout org.protege.editor.core.application
  6. cd org.protege.editor.core.application and ant install and cd ..
  7. svn checkout org.semanticweb.owl.owlapi
  8. cd org.semanticweb.owl.owlapi and ant install and cd ..
  9. svn checkout org.protege.editor.owl
  10. cd org.protege.editor.owl and ant install and cd ..

This will give a minimal installation and other plugins can be added as desired. Source plugins can be created by adding ant add.source before the ant install step. A full run on an extremely slow machine is shown here.

Anatomy of a Plugin

A short guide to writing a plug-in to show the class hierarchy. This doesn't delve deeply into setting up your build environment, but concentrates on a simple code example and making sure you understand the components and the structure of a plug-in.

This page also contains some information about the different parts of a plugin and how they work together. It also includes a very simple plugin and shows how to install it into the eclipse development environment.

The example delves into producing a view plugin, but we also have a short list of other useful plugin types that you may wish to implement (such as menu items etc).

Once you have written a plugin you want people to use it. Some very simple steps allow you to advertise your plugin and enable auto-update.

Protege APIs

Here is a summary of the main parts of the Protege 4 API for gaining access to the model and various utilities.

Also see the javadoc for Protege 4.0 code.

UI components

The Protege core and the OWL editor kit both provide a large number of reuseable components and utilities for generating user interfaces for ontologies.

Updating to Protege 4.1

A short guide to migrating plugins from Protege4.0 to Protege4.1 (in progress).


For people embedding Protege 4 services inside a non-OSGi based applications here is a short example showing how this can work.