Differences and interaction between the VEST Registry and the AgroPortal


Before this global map of standards in use for the exchange of agriculture and nutrition data was started, there were two separate catalogs of standards in this area:

  • The VEST Registry (now evolved into this Map)
    This registry, managed by FAO in the AIMS website, since the beginning covered all types of vocabularies in any format, ranging from description metadata sets (XML schemas, RDFS schemas, application profiles…) to KOSs of different types (classifications, thesauri, ontologies…).
    Also the domain coverage was quite broad: besides vocabularies used specifically for food and agriculture data, the directory included generic vocabularies used for any type of data (from bibliographic resources to time series to soil data, germplasm data etc.) and vocabularies used in neighbouring disciplines (climate, environmant, geospatial...). 
    The Registry was conceived as a metadata catalog, providing descriptions and categorization of standards and linking to the original website and original serialization of the standard.
  • The AgroPortal
    The AgroPortal was designed as a repository of ontologies used in the area of food and agriculture. As a repository, the portal stores the actual RDF content of the ontologies and offers advanced functionalities for linking and using the vocabularies.
    It enables ontology search, versioning, visualization, commenting, recommendation, semantic annotation, as well as storing and exploiting of ontology alignments.
    Therefore, the scope of the AgroPortal is limited to RDF vocabularies, including strictly OWL or OBO ontologies as well as SKOS concept schemes.

These two platforms were not communicating with each other and few people were aware of both.


Now, we have this Agrisemantics Map of Data Standards which is a one-stop shop portal giving access to the vocabularies originally maintained in the two platforms above.

However, we have maintained the specificities of each platform, which are complementary:

  • The VEST Registry, which had the broader scope, covering all types of standards in any format, has evolved into this new VEST / AgroPortal global map of standards.
    The novelty is that now this map includes the metadata of the vocabularies managed in the AgroPortal. The VEST / AgroPortal map thus became the one-stop shop interface.
    The map, as the VEST, is designed as a catalog, meaning that it stores only the metadata about the standards, not the actual content (to which it provides links).
  • The AgroPortal has retained its main function of storing and linking the content of RDF vocabularies, but it shares the metadata of the hosted ontologies with the new VEST / AgroPortal map

In order to maintain some synchronization between the two platforms and also highlight and exploit the differences, we implemented some interaction:

  • The Agrisemantics Map is the landing page for those looking for all the standards.
    For vocabularies that also have a corresponding record in the AgroPortal, a link to the AgroPortal page with the full content is provided.
    New metadata from the AgroPortal are imported at regular intervals.

  • If someone navigating this map wants to register or edit the description of a vocabulary:

    • The metadata are added / edited in the new Agrisemantics map

    • If the vocabulary is already in the AgroPortal repository, the system will also provide a link to edit the description or upload a new version to the AgroPortal.

    • If the vocabulary is not in the AgroPortal yet and If some of the metadata indicate a potential RDF vocabulary (e.g. format = RDF or OWL; SPARQL endpoint not empty, vocabulary type = ontology…), the system will display a message inviting to also upload the vocabulary to the AgroPortal and will point the user to the elevant page on the AgroPortal website.