Taxonomy Tool Roundup

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Product name: Term Tree 2000, version 2.3
Product vendor: This to That Pty., Ltd. t/a A.C.S. Active Classification Solutions (Australia)
Price: $800 Australian (about $700)

Taxonomy Display
Term Tree’s user interface features a split screen with the browsable taxonomy in the left pane and the editable relationships and details of a selected taxonomy term in the right pane.

The terms are listed alphabetically but with the option to expand to show narrower terms, which is lacking in MultiTes. Nonpreferred terms are interspersed among the preferred terms. The display makes use of various graphical icons next to all terms. Another nice feature is the View menu, which allows the user to limit the taxonomy display to just top terms, preferred terms, nonpreferred terms, unauthorized terms, and so on, which in other products can only be done as a report.

Term Display and Editing
Although Term Tree’s interface is somewhat graphically cluttered, the tool offers an impressive number of options for term creation, linking, and editing. Term details can be edited either from the term detail pane or by clicking on a term in the taxonomy list and using a context menu, toolbar buttons, or even keyboard shortcuts (function keys, insert, delete, and so on). Finally, relationships can be created by dragging a term in the left pane taxonomy list and dropping it into the relationship type of another term in the right pane details screen.

In addition to the standard relationship types, Term Tree also has a “superseded term” relationship for when a term is deactivated and superseded by another term. New terms can be created by starting from an existing term and creating a relationship or from scratch by various methods. Term Tree spell checks new terms and scope notes as they are typed in. A drawback, however, is that editing the term name itself, such as changing its wording, cannot be done without deleting the term and then adding back the new wording of the term.

Taxonomy Searching
Term Tree supports searching the start of terms in the taxonomy with type-ahead scrolling.

An additional search option permits searching other fields, such as scope note, and allows restricting by source, code, class, and date. If multiple terms match the search, rather than getting a list of matches, the user needs to select “next occurrence” from the menu. In my opinion, a list of matches would be more practical.

User-Defined Relationships and Attributes
In Term Tree—although system definitions permit the user to rename the relationship labels of Use, Use for, Broader Term, Scope Note, and so on—creating additional kinds of relationships or types of notes is not supported. Actually, the system provides two note types called Scope Note and User Note, so having the possibility for a second kind of note is, in most cases, sufficient. The user can, however, create and name any number of categories, called Classes in Term Tree. There is even an additional type of category called Codes, although the need for a distinction between Classes and Codes is not obvious.

Importing, Exporting, and Reports
Term Tree supports importing data as a tagged ASCII text file and in the proprietary formats of MultiTes and A.K.A., but not XML. Of the tools tested, Term Tree can export to the greatest number of file formats: XML, CSV comma delimited, tab delimited, Excel spreadsheet direct, HTML (as a website), Windows Explorer, Term Tree’s own tag format, and the proprietary netcat and MetaBrowser formats.

Reports can be generated from Term Tree in more types than most users need for various thesaurus and records management outputs. The report output format, however, is limited to MS Word or direct to printer. A full range of term inclusion/exclusion is possible, as in MultiTes.

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