The linear topic map notation is a simple textual format for topic maps. Just like the XML interchange format it represents the constructs in the topic map standard as text, but unlike the XML format it is compact and simple. The notation can be written in any text editor and processed by topic map software that supports it, or converted into the XML format supported by such software.

The XML-based topic map interchange format is defined in such a way as to make it easy to comprehend for humans and to develop software for, and these purposes it fulfills very well. However, this benefit has been realized at the cost of making it awkward to read and write for humans. Now, humans were not really intended to do this, they were intended to use specialized topic map editors, which would insulate their users from the syntactical details of the interchange format.

However, there is still a need for a simple textual format that can be used to concisely and clearly express topic map constructs in emails, discussions and similar contexts. Such a format also makes it easy to quickly create and maintain small topic maps for demonstration and personal purposes. This is useful while we wait for good topic map editors to be developed.

While you may find that this syntax provides you with a convenient and easy way to maintain your topic maps, please note that the only standardized forms for interchangeable topic maps remain the XTM 1.0 and HyTM syntaxes.

This notation has been developed by Ontopia. Steve Pepper came up with the original idea, based on the linear notation for conceptual graphs. The notation has since been refined by Lars-Marius Garshol, with input from Geir Ove Grønmo and Steve Pepper. Useful contributions from Murray Altheim and Akio Yamamoto are also gratefully acknowledged.

While the copyright to both this description and the format itself is held by Ontopia Ontopia reserves only the right to be recognized as the originator of the notation. Permission to use it in any way for any purpose whatsoever is hereby granted in perpetuity to all potential users.

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