OWL API: Choosing the right version

While all versions (3, 4 and 5) are currently maintained, only 4 and 5 are under active development. The latest releases for all three major versions are listed, for example, here.

The important thing to know for you is that version 4 involved a major revision of the OWL API that is not backwards compatible with version 3 – as with many other libraries, changes in the main version number indicate disruptive changes to the API. Even OWL API 5 has a few interfaces that are not backwards compatible with OWL API 4; these incompatibilities are much fewer though than in the compared to the migration from 3 to 4.

So, why do we still mention version 3 if it is superseded? The problem is that, because of the lack of backwards compatibility, many OWL API-based applications or libraries have not been updated yet. There is usually a lag of anything between a few weeks and a few months between an OWL API release and the corresponding releases of related projects; if you have doubts about which version to use, feel free to email owlapi-developer@lists.sourceforge.net or open an issue on GitHub – there are always people there willing to help.

Essential tools for working with OWL are reasoners – implementations of the OWLReasoner interface. There are a few of them available for the OWL API 4, and there’s work ongoing to release reasoners for OWL API 5. Check the Wiki pages on the OWL API website for the latest updates.

You can find information on how to make your OWL API 3 application compatible with the later versions here:

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