The OLS has matured into a stable system and has proven to be popular beyond our initial expectations. Besides being used as a stand-alone system, its functionality has been incorporated into several independent tools and large-scale projects and is also being used by several ontology developers as the primary ontology browser (12, 13 as examples).
When it went into production in mid-2005, the OLS was without peer. While it was true that each major ontology provider (GO, TAIR, FlyBase, Wormbase, etc.) generally provided its own website to browse their individual ontology, there was no unified resource to interactively and programmatically query multiple ontologies using a single, constant interface. Other services quickly followed suit and current systems that perform a similar function now include the National Center for Biomedical Ontology (NCBO) BioPortal (14
) and the National Cancer Institute BioPortal (http://bioportal.nci.nih.gov/ncbo/faces/index.xhtml
), which uses a scaled-down version of the NCBO BioPortal codebase.
A continuous increase in the number and scope of ontologies and CVs made available, coupled with an enhanced data model and better cross-ontology support will ensure that the OLS keeps its place as a valuable tool for a broad segment of the scientific community. The development team and its collaborators are always trying to make it easier to integrate OLS functionality into other projects, and the release of the OLS Dialog will go a long way towards achieving this goal. Ontology developers who wish to make their ontology available to the OLS can do so easily and through a variety of means, thanks to a versatile and automated loading process.
The OLS team is always looking for feedback to improve the project. Users are encouraged to contact pride-support/at/ebi.ac.uk for comments, problems and suggestions for new functionality.