But now that we have these vocabularies, how can we view or edit them? One way is to use TopBraid Composer. Since Composer is a native RDF system, importing, viewing, editing and saving SKOS files is second-nature. As an example, I have downloaded one of my favorite vocabularies, the AGROVOC vocabulary from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The AGROVOC appears on the W3C SKOS Implementation Page as a SKOS (RDF) file . The screenshot below shows this file displayed in the Free Edition of TopBraid Composer:
Since AGROVOC is a multi-lingual thesaurus, I can usefully set the language of Composer to something other than my native tongue; in this case, I have chosen French. In the upper left, we see the broader/narrower tree, in particular the part about Ruminants, with current focus on Dairy Cattle. In the center form, we see the details of this term: Its preferred expression in several languages (this is part of the AGROVOC data), its situation in terms of broader/narrower terms, and even the related term, Milk ("Lait" in French). In the upper right, we see the SKOS relationship hierarchy; we are currently focusing on skos:broader for our view. In the bottom, we see a SPARQL query, rather fancifully determining the connection between Cattle and Foxes. Notice that like many professional thesauri, AGROVOC uses numeric codes for its terms; creating such a SPARQL query could be quite hard work if you had to cross-reference all these numbers. But in Composer, you can use the display name to help you out. This query was written by copy-and-pasting terms from the bookmarks window ("Basket") into the SPARQL tab. We see the terms printed with readable names (in French) in the Basket; they show up in the SPARQL editor as URIs, processable by the SPARQL engine.
In the Maestro edition of TopBraid Composer, you can even see the relationships graphically; below you see the results of that SPARQL query displayed as a graph, showing all the steps from Cattle to Foxes (now in English) in the AGROVOC vocabulary.
We are finding SKOS to be an invaluable asset in vocabulary management applications. It covers the basics that are expected of any vocabulary representation (including multilingualism) with a very simple meta-model. The meta-model itself makes modest use of OWL (transitive, symmetric, inverse, and one functional property), but there is no need for someone who is editing or viewing a vocabulary to have any familiarity with OWL at all. The ability to distribute vocabularies over the web, and to connect them together (using the SKOS matching vocabulary) addresses a wide variety of real-world vocabulary management needs, which are not met by any other standard. I'll be giving a tutorial at KMWorld on the use of SKOS in vocabulary management on November 16.
 Last time I checked, the link on the W3C page to AGROVOC was broken. I downloaded the example file a few weeks ago, and still have it. I don't know if the link is temporarily broken, or if the file has moved, or if there is another reason why the link is currently not available.