Template for VINE Guidance


The VINE tool has several features that can be used to produce more powerful information and inferences. This document outlines the implications of each, and how it could be used in the mapping session.


The VINE tool has the following features of particular interest:

  • timestamping all defined relationships
  • entering comments on defined relationships
  • assigning a confidence level to defined relationships

These pieces of metadata about each relationship can be useful in the short term to other people trying to understand the relationship, and in the long term to systems trying to build inferences based on the relationship.



Each time you create or modify a relationship with VINE, the VINE tool will timestamp it (by adding the date and time to the metadata of the relationship). This will provide valuable traceability over time, as many relationships are built up and the significance of them becomes less clear. This feature does not require any additional effort on your part, other than making sure your computer clock is correct.

Comments on Relationships

The ability to comment on an explicit relationship has several applications:

  • explaining the reasoning for (or against) a relationship;
  • marking the relationship with a keyword for future applications to process;
  • capturing special qualities about the relationship; and
  • explaining why a relationship was deemed inappropriate.

All of these purposes are very useful, the last one surprisingly so. Knowing why a relationship was deemed inappropriate can save users much discussion (or at least, let it break new ground).

To enter a comment for a relationship in Vine 1.2.3, find the relationship on the Mapping Results view. Double-click on the relationship to bring up a dialog box for entry, modification, or viewing of the comment. Make any desired changes to the Comment field in the dialog box, and click OK to submit the change. The new comment will be stored with the relationship. (At this time, the previous comment is simply overwritten.)

Confidence in Relationships

While often a relationship is clear, at times people will disagree about whether the relationship actually exists, or they will not be sure that their assessment of the relationship is accurate (for example, if they do not have complete domain knowledge). The Confidence attribute of the relationship helps capture the certainty, or lack thereof, when a relationship is created.

The confidence level may have any value between 0 and 100, with 100 meaning the mappers are totally confident that this relationship is real. This value (100) is the default value for any new relationship (and is not explicitly written into the file).

Confidence values can be critical to resolve apparent contradictions in the mapping, or to resolving judgments about whether an item should be displayed. For example, an application may query for all terms deemed the same as a given term, with a confidence level of at least 80. This will present the most significant relationships only, increasing the power of the results. A confidence level of 0 indicates that all concerned are certain the relationship is not valid. Such a relationship should not be used by any external applications (although the use of confidence level by applications is not standardized, to say the least).

To change or view the confidence level in Vine 1.2.3, the user must double-click on the affected relationship in the Mapping Results page. (Note that it must be an explicit relationship, as implicit relationships are derived from the explicit ones.) A dialog box pops up with a slider indicating the confidence level. The user may enter any desired level, and (optional but highly recommended) a comment indicating the reason for the change. Clicking OK will enter the data and close the dialog box.

Special Case: Removing Relationships

If a relationship was entered as a data entry error, it is entirely appropriate to simply delete that relationship, using the delete button at the top left of the relationships window on the Mapping Results page.

However, if a relationship is proposed, entered, and discussed, then later deemed invalid, the record should not be entirely deleted. The fact the relationship was proposed is interesting to have on the record, and its removal should be explicit and explained. The recommended way of cancelling the relationship in this case is to set its confidence level to 0, and explaining the change in the Comment field. This will enable the ontology to properly reflect the gathered wisdom of the mappers.