TMRAP

Developer's Guide

Published by:Ontopia
Date:2013-08-01
Version:5.3.0

Abstract

This document introduces the TMRAP web services interface to Ontopia and shows how to develop solutions using it. It introduces both the plain HTTP interface and the SOAP interface.

Table of contents

1. Introduction

TMRAP is a web service interface to Ontopia which makes it possible to retrieve Topic Maps fragments from a remote Topic Maps server and also to modify the topic maps stored on the server. The interface consists of a number of methods which can be accessed either using plain HTTP or using SOAP. The functionality is the same in both cases; the only difference is in how the methods are accessed.

The methods provided by TMRAP are:

get-topic

Returns a Topic Maps fragment describing a single topic. This is useful to get more information about specific topics with known identities.

get-topic-page

Returns information about web pages for viewing/editing a given topic on the server. This is useful for creating links to topics in an application that runs on a different server.

get-tolog

Allows tolog queries to be run on the server, and returns the query results either as structured XML or as a Topic Maps fragment.

tolog-update

Runs a tolog update statement on the server, modifying one topic map.

add-fragment

Adds a Topic Maps fragment to a topic map on the server.

delete-topic

Deletes a specific topic from a topic map on the server.

The next part of this guide describes the methods in detail, and is followed by a section that describes how to use the two different TMRAP interfaces (SOAP and plain HTTP).

More background on the purpose and design of TMRAP can be found in the TMRA'05 paper that introduced version 1.0 of TMRAP. The slides from the presentation may also be useful.

2. Method reference

This section presents each of the TMRAP methods in more detail, showing all of the parameters and behaviours. What is described here applies to both the plain HTTP interface and the SOAP interface. In order to understand how the methods here are invoked using the two interfaces, see section 3 and section 4.

For many of the methods it's possible to specify which syntax the result should be returned in. The identifiers used for the syntaxes supported by Ontopia are given below.

application/x-xtm

This is for the XTM 1.0 syntax, which is always the default.

text/x-tmxml

This is for the TM/XML syntax, about which more below.

text/x-ltm

This is the identifier for the LTM syntax.

text/x-ctm

This is the identifier for the CTM syntax.

The TM/XML syntax is an XML syntax for Topic Maps that is easier to process with XSLT than XTM is, and so may be more convenient to use when the TMRAP client is not using Topic Maps software. Like TMRAP, TM/XML is described in a TMRA'05 paper, for which there is also slides. A short background and introduction can also be found in this blog posting.

2.1. get-topic

This method returns a topic map fragment representing the topic identified by the parameters to the method. The parameters to the method are shown in the table below.

ParameterReq.?Repeat?TypeDescription
itemnoyesURIAn item identifier of the requested topic.
subjectnoyesURIA subject locator of the requested topic.
identifiernoyesURIA subject identifier of the requested topic.
topicmapnoyesstringThe ID of a topic map being queried.
syntaxnonostringThe syntax in which to return the topc map fragment. The default is XTM, but TM/XML is also supported (and LTM is not). Note that the values supplied must be the syntax identifiers defined above.
viewnonostringThe view to use when creating the fragment. The default (and only permitted value in this version) is 'stub'.

Fragments can be retrieved in two different ways: if the topicmap parameter is given the identified topic maps are queried, but if it is not the topic maps currently loaded on the server will be queried. The fragment will represent a single topic formed from all the topics matching one of the three URI parameters in some queried topic map. (The server may have to merge topics in order to produce this result, but it will not modify the topic maps on the server.)

The fragment returned for a topic contains all its identifiers, names, occurrences, and associations, but only identifiers are given for topics referenced from these.

2.2. get-topic-page

This method returns a topic map fragment for a topic that describes it in terms useful for linking to the topic on the TMRAP server from some other web application. For more information on how this method can be used, see the original TMRAP presentation. The parameters to the method are listed below.

ParameterReq.?Repeat?TypeDescription
itemnoyesURIAn item identifier of the requested topic.
subjectnoyesURIA subject locator of the requested topic.
identifiernoyesURIA subject identifier of the requested topic.
topicmapnoyesstringThe ID of a topic map being queried.
syntaxnonostringThe syntax in which to return the topic map fragment. The default (and only supported value) is XTM. Note that the values supplied must be the syntax identifiers defined above.

The set of topics found is produced in the same way as for the get-topic method (see section 2.1), but the topics are not merged. Instead, a small topic map describing the topics and the web pages they can be accessed through is returned. The topic map is best explained with an example. Let's say we start the Tomcat server in the Ontopia distribution, load opera.ltm, and ask for the topic page for Russia. The result would be the following topic map (except the IDs, which have been edited to make them more readable).

#PREFIX tmrap @"http://psi.ontopia.net/tmrap/"

[ontopia : tmrap:server = "Ontopia local installation"]

[opera : tmrap:topicmap = "The Italian Opera Topic Map"]
   {opera, tmrap:handle, [[opera.ltm]]}
tmrap:contained-in(ontopia :  tmrap:container, opera : tmrap:containee)
tmrap:contained-in(opera : tmrap:container, view : tmrap:containee)
tmrap:contained-in(opera : tmrap:container, edit : tmrap:containee)

[view : tmrap:view-page
   %"http://localhost:8080/omnigator/models/topic_complete.jsp?tm=opera.ltm&id=458"]
[edit : tmrap:edit-page
   %"http://localhost:8080/ontopoly/enter.ted?tm=opera.ltm&id=458"]

[russia = "Russia"
    @"http://www.topicmaps.org/xtm/1.0/country.xtm#RU"]

This topic map describes the server, the topic map, the topic, and the pages on which the topic can be accessed by a user.

2.3. get-tolog

The get-tolog method allows you to run a tolog query on the server and receive the result as a Topic Maps fragment. Later versions of TMRAP will also support getting the query result as a table structure. The supported parameters are shown below.

ParameterReq.?Repeat?TypeDescription
tologyesnostringThe tolog query.
topicmapyesnostringThe ID of the topic map being queried.
syntaxnonostringThe syntax in which to return the topc map fragment. The default (and only supported value) is XTM. Note that the values supplied must be the syntax identifiers defined above.
viewnonostringThe view to use when creating topic fragments. The default (and only supported value) is 'stub'.

There is one constraint on the tolog queries supported by this method: they must produce a one-column result consisting only of topics. The topics are then returned in a fragment in the same way as with the get-topic method (see section 2.1), except that the topics returned are not merged.

2.4. tolog-update

The tolog-update method runs a tolog update statement on the server against the specified topic map, modifying it in place. The return value is simply the number of rows modified. The supported parameters are shown below.

ParameterReq.?Repeat?TypeDescription
tologyesnostringThe tolog statement.
topicmapyesnostringThe ID of the topic map being modified.

The statement is run against the topic map. The modifications are committed.

2.5. add-fragment

The add-fragment method allows a Topic Maps fragment to be added to a topic map on the server. The parameters are listed below.

ParameterReq.?Repeat?TypeDescription
topicmapyesnostringThe ID of the topic map being added to.
syntaxyesnostringThe syntax of the fragment to be added. The only supported values are CTM, LTM, and XTM. Note that the values supplied must be the syntax identifiers defined above.
fragmentyesnostringThe actual fragment.

The given fragment is imported into the topic map.

2.6. delete-topic

The delete-topic method allows a topic to be deleted from a topic map on the server. The parameters are listed below.

ParameterReq.?Repeat?TypeDescription
itemnoyesURIAn item identifier of the requested topic.
subjectnoyesURIA subject locator of the requested topic.
identifiernoyesURIA subject identifier of the requested topic.
topicmapnoyesstringThe ID of a topic map being queried.

The set of topics is found using the same method as with get-topic (see section 2.1) and all topics are deleted from their respective topic maps. The method of deletion is the same as for the removeTopic method of the net.ontopia.topicmaps.utils.DeletionUtils class.

3. The HTTP interface

In Ontopia distribution the plain HTTP interface is included as a servlet (implemented by the Java class net.ontopia.topicmaps.utils.tmrap.RAPServlet). This servlet can be made available in any web application by adding the appropriate mappings in the web.xml file, and this has been done in the /tmrap/ web application in the Ontopia distribution. This means that each TMRAP method is available in plain HTTP style at the URL http://localhost:8080/tmrap/tmrap/method-name.

The general principle of the mapping is that each method has a separate URL (with the method name as the last part), and that the parameters to the method are provided as plain HTTP request parameters. Methods that do not change state on the server are accessed with GET while methods that do change state are accessed with POST. So to access method get-foo with the parameter bar set to baz you would send a GET request to http://localhost:8080/tmrap/tmrap/get-foo?bar=baz.

As an example, let's say we've got Ontopia running, and we want information about Russia. We go into opera.ltm using the Omnigator, so that the topic map is loaded on the server. To get information about Russia using TMRAP we could use the following very simple Python script.

import urllib

BASE = "http://localhost:8080/tmrap/tmrap/"
psi = "http://www.topicmaps.org/xtm/1.0/country.xtm%23RU"

inf = urllib.urlopen(BASE + "get-topic?identifier=" + psi)
print inf.read()
inf.close()

Note that in the PSI above the '#' character has been escaped. This is because the fragment part of a URI is never transmitted to the server, and so we need to escape this to turn it into part of the request parameter, instead of a fragment to the URI.

Anyway, running this Python script produces the following output (slightly edited to reduce the length of the lines):

[larsga@dhcp-98 larsga]$ python tst.py 
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" standalone="yes"?>
<topicMap xmlns="http://www.topicmaps.org/xtm/1.0/" 
          xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink">
  <topic id="id458">
    <instanceOf>
      <subjectIndicatorRef xlink:href="http://psi.ontopia.net/geography/#country"/>
    </instanceOf>
    <subjectIdentity>
      <subjectIndicatorRef xlink:href="http://www.topicmaps.org/xtm/1.0/country.xtm#RU"/>
      <topicRef xlink:href="file:/.../WEB-INF/topicmaps/geography.xtmm#russia"/>
    </subjectIdentity>
    <baseName>
      <baseNameString>Russia</baseNameString>
    </baseName>
  </topic>
  <association>
    <instanceOf>
      <subjectIndicatorRef xlink:href="http://psi.ontopia.net/geography/#located-in"/>
    </instanceOf>
    <!-- ...rest omitted... -->

In other words, the plain HTTP interface really is quite plain, and should also be relatively straightforward to use.

4. The SOAP interface

The SOAP interface to TMRAP has been created using Apache Axis2, the second-generation SOAP implementation from the Apache Foundation. This interface is also located in the /tmrap/ web application in the Ontopia distribution. You can access this web application with a web browser to see the available web services and get the WSDL describing the SOAP interface.

To access a SOAP interface you need a SOAP client for your platform. The use of SOAP clients vary so widely with the platform and specific client used that we make no attempt to document their use here. The best way to get started is to use your SOAP development framework to generate client stubs from the WSDL file.

5. Security Considerations

As it is possible to both modify the topic map and extract any information from it via TMRAP there are definite security concerns with providing an full TMRAP interface to the open internet. It is possible to configure the web server in such a way as to block some of the requests, or to require authentication in order to access some or all of the requests.

The most common requirement is to block the add-fragment and delete-topic methods, as these allow modification of the topic map. To do this, simply add the following at the end of the web.xml for the tmrap web application:

  <security-constraint>
    <display-name>Blocked TMRAP requests</display-name>
    <web-resource-collection>
      <web-resource-name>Blocked TMRAP requests</web-resource-name>
      <url-pattern>/tmrap/add-fragment</url-pattern>
      <url-pattern>/tmrap/delete-topic</url-pattern>
    </web-resource-collection>
    <auth-constraint>
      <role-name>user</role-name>
    </auth-constraint>
  </security-constraint>

The security role user is not defined, but this is not necessary, so long as the purpose is simply to block access to these requests.