In only two years, the Interactive Knowledge Stack (IKS) (news, site) project has released its first working demo of a semantic knowledge engine and is making quite a stir, as early adopters begin integrating it into their content management software. Recent events have also seen part of the results acceptance as an Apache incubator projected named Stanbol. Here's an update.

Much to the dismay of some, IKS did release an alpha version of their project. CMSWire has followed the EU-funded effort since the early stages, inviting readers to become an early adopter, or fill in the semantic features survey. The first working demo, FISE The RESTful Semantic Engine, was released by Nuxeo (newssite) a few months ago, with new developments to the story already.

What Is IKS and Why Does It Matter?

IKS is an open source project whose purpose is to add semantic functionality to content management systems. The large project is still in its early stages, so there is more to see from it in the future. The goal of the project is to make semantic technologies popular, which in turn will speed the implementation of semantic functionality in CMS.

IKS is not a single project. It has several sub-projects and a consortium of seven research partners and six industrial partners -- the idea being to bridge science and research with business. For those who may want to see IKS components first hand, the second annual Amsterdam workshop on the 9th and 10th of December will demonstrate the new Stanbol architecture for the first time.

As for what a Semantic Engine does, here are some common examples of semantic functionality:

  • Categorize documents
  • Suggest meaningful tags
  • Find related documents and assets
  • Extract and recognize known entities
  • Detect yet unknown entities
  • Extract knowledge assertions

FISE as Part of the IKS Project

Nuxeo and others in the IKS consortium teamed-up to produce a functional semantic engine under the auspices of IKS. FISE (the Furtwangen IKS Semantic Engine) was created during the IKS Semantic Engine Hackathon in March 2010. It is written in Java, but can be integrated into any platform written in any language thanks to it's RESTful design -- one of its key strengths.

Learning Opportunities

As of today, FISE is a standalone HTTP service. It does have a web interface, but a very basic one. It can be used to get an idea of what a semantic search engine does, but in order to use it in everyday life, it needs to be integrated into a broader platform.

FISE Accepted as Apache Incubator

Recognition for the significance of the project came from a reputable organization, the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). FISE has been accepted in the Apache incubator and it will continue its life as Apache Stanbol. The Apache Stanbol project will use FISE as its basis, but there will be other components around to extend its functionality.

Early Adopters Integrate IKS

The IKS project is still far from finished, but already has a list of early adopters. For instance, GOSS (news, site) has been working to integrate the IKS software into their Web Content Management system, GOSS iCM (intelligent Content Management). Day Software (now Adobe) and Nuxeo have been heavily involved from the beginning, and others such as Hippo, Gentics, Jahia, Modera and Jadu are joining in.

When the integration is over, people, places and organizations will be easily identified in text and automatically marked-up with RDF tags. If IKS fulfills its mission, this is just the beginning of semantic improvements to come for both closed and open source content management systems.