Pr4 UG ui

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User Interface

comment   Editing   Glossary   Outline

User Interface
Main Window
Menu Bar
Tab Bar

Protege 4's User Interface (UI) is, in a sense, the chief justification for using the program. After all, any text editor can be used to edit XML files. Add a few commands to do tasks like inferring relationships and you've got a functionally equivalent set of tools. You will not, however, have anything like the convenience that Protege 4 provides.

Although Protege 4 is commonly called an "ontology editor", it is actually an OWL-specific integrated development environment (IDE). That is, it provides an integrated environment (ie, workbench) for developing and maintaining OWL ontologies.


The UI's architecture is based on two powerful abstractions: views and tabs. Although both occupy rectangular regions of the display screen, their manner of use is quite different. Each view is a specialized tool, optimized for performing a particular task. Each tab presents a set of tools (ie, a toolkit), optimized for performing similar or related tasks.


Most views allow the user to display (and typically, edit) some aspect of an ontology. In all cases, however, a view acts as a tool for performing a specialized set of actions.

Protege 4 categorizes most views by the kind of information they present: Annotation, Class, Data property, Datatype, Individual, Object property, and Ontology views. All remaining views are categorized under Misc (miscellany). This categorization scheme is built into Protege 4 (eg, in the Menu Bar) and is also used by the Views reference chapter in this guide.


A tab is a collection of views, arranged within the tab's own display region. Protege 4 defines several "default" tabs, but these may be modified or even deleted by the user. Additional (eg, task-specific) tabs may also be defined.

UI Elements

Views and tabs, while very important, are not the whole story. Most interaction occurs in the Main Window, generally within a small number of tabs. Navigation among these tabs is made possible by the Tab Bar. If the user wishes to perform an unusual action, s/he may use an item in the Menu Bar. If the program needs to support an unusual interaction, it may display a dialog box.

The following list summarized these high-level UI elements:

  • Dialogs - temporary windows that display status and/or enable actions
  • Main Window - focus of most user interaction
    • Tab Bar - selects a set of views for the Main Window
    • Views - rectangular regions of the Main Window
  • Menu Bar - sets of options for the overall program
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