Populous is a generic tool developed by Simon Jupp (UNIMAN) for building ontologies from spreadsheet-like templates. The Populous approach is useful when a repeating ontology design pattern emerges that needs to be populated en masse. The use of a simple interface, similar to that of a spreadsheet, means that the templates can be populated by users with little or no knowledge of ontology development. Once these teamplates are populated, Populous supports transforming the data into an OWL ontology using a expressive pattern language.

Spreadsheets are currently transformed into OWL/RDF using the Ontology Pre-Processing Language v2 (OPPL). OPPL 2 is a powerful scripting language for generating and manipulating OWL axioms. Populous provides a wizard like interface found in the "Tools" menu to map spreadsheet data to variables in OPPL patterns.

Populous is built on top of RightField . RightField can be used to create Excel spreadsheets that have ontology based restrictions on allowable values in selected cells. RightField spreadsheets allow scientists to annotate their data using standard terminology from ontologies rather than using free text annotations.

Populous and RightField are both open source cross platform Java applications.  Below is a screenshot of a Populous template for a biological ontology.

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