Topic Maps is a Web 3.0 enabling technology. That means it works behind the scenes of many web portals and other rich data products. You may not know it, but you definitly used Topic Maps before — if just by visiting this web site.


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Topic Maps date back to 1991 and have gone a long way since then. The article A Perspective on the Quest for Global Knowledge Interchange (PDF) by Steve Newcomb gives a historical overview. It was published as chapter 3 of XML Topic Maps – Creating and Using Topic Maps for the Web (Jack Park and Sam Hunting, eds.), 2003: Addison-Wesley. The publisher makes this chapter available free.

In the last years, the Topic Maps Data Model was developed and standardized by ISO in 2006, together with a XML-based serialization format, XTM 2. Later, the Compact Topic Maps Notation followed which is more suited for manual editing. Additionally, a query language and and a modeling language are currently in the progress of standardization.

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For programmers, many software libraries, called Topic Maps engines are available to use, some of which are part of complete knowledge management solutions.

Students and academics will find the Topic Maps Library useful. It includes many publications, a glossary, information about standards and more.

Many companies offer commercial services and/or consulting around Topic Maps products. The list of sponsors of TMRA is a good place to look for them. The Topic Maps Projects list gives some starting points, too.

The Standards are available through ISO. The latest versions can also be obtained at The most prominent standard is the Topic Maps Data Model which uses XTM 2 and CTM as serializations.