Frequently asked questions about the Network of Terms

Network of Terms

What is the Network of Terms?

The Network of Terms is a new service being developed by the Dutch Digital Heritage Network for finding terms in terminology sources such as thesauri, classification systems, and reference lists. The Network of Terms searches all of the terminology sources available in the Heritage Network. We are still working on the final product, but this website will give you a taste of what’s in store for you.

Who is the Network of Terms for?

The Network of Terms is intended for everyone who manages heritage information and wants to provide standardized terms from common terminology sources, for example heritage collection managers or heritage portal editors. Please note that, as a user, you do not search the Network of Terms directly; your collection or content management system will do it for you.

Why is the Network of Terms being developed?

The Network of Terms will make it easier for collection managers and editors to use terms from terminology sources. Of course it is possible to search terminology sources directly, without the Network of Terms. This can be a challenge, however. Terminology sources use different ways to unlock their information. The Network of Terms facilitates the process by providing a uniform way of searching.

How does the Network of Terms work?

You search the Network of Terms through your collection or content management system. This is where you enter your search query, for instance: Rembrandt or fiets ('bicycle'). You then select the terminology source you want to search, for instance: Netherlands Thesaurus of Author's names (NTA) or Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT). The Network of Terms then performs a real-time query of the terminology source and returns all the matching results. For Rembrandt it will return, for example, all the people going by that name, and for fiets, all concepts containing that noun, such as bakfiets ('cargo bike') and waterfiets ('pedal boat'). The Network of Terms unlocks the information as it appears in the terminology sources, without any modifications.

How does this website relate to the Network of Terms?

A lot of new technology is hidden behind the Network of Terms. We are in the middle of implementing this innovation. This website demonstrates the operation of the Network of Terms. It uses a prototype of the Network of Terms that is being executed in the background.


Why is this a prototype?

We have all kinds of ideas about how the Network of Terms should work. We explore these ideas hands-on with prototypes: small, working applications which we can use to test whether our ideas make sense. The best ideas will subsequently be elaborated into a fully-fledged version of the Network of Terms. The version available from this website is the first prototype.

Can I already use the prototype in my organization?

You can, but that is not its intended use. Although the prototype searches real terminology sources and returns real results that you might use, we cannot guarantee the reliability of the results or the stability of the prototype. That is not our goal at this stage.

Who created the prototype?

The prototype was initiated by the Dutch Digital Heritage Network in collaboration with CLARIAH. It was built by developers from organizations who were involved in the CLARIAH Tech Day (November 2018), such as the KNAW Humanities Cluster, Sound and Vision and the National Library. Information specialists at the Cultural Heritage Agency assisted in preparing certain terminology sources.

Why is terminology source X not listed?

The purpose of the prototype is to give an impression, not to search all possible terminology sources. The current sources have been chosen for technical reasons: they use Linked Data technologies and specific types of publication platforms (such as Getty, OpenSKOS, PoolParty or Wikidata).

What’s next?

This prototype is a first step in the development of the Network of Terms. In the coming period we will assess whether the prototype can be used by collection managers and software developers of collection management systems. Based on their feedback we will build a new prototype.


How does the Network of Terms work?

Users search the Network of Terms through their client systems, for instance a collection management system or content management system. The client forwards the user’s query to the Network of Terms server using GraphQL, a widely used search language. The server parses the query and sends it to the Linked Data API of the terminology source. The Network of Terms does so according to the terminology source protocol, for example SPARQL. The terminology source then searches for answers to the query and returns them to the Network of Terms, again according to its own protocol, for example in a certain data format (such as JSON-LD or RDF/XML) or a certain metadata standard (such as SKOS or Schema.org). The Network of Terms then converts the results to GraphQL and returns them to the user’s client system, which finally processes and presents them.

How can I address the prototype?

The prototype’s API can be accessed at the following location:


The user interface of the API can be accessed here:


Is the source code of the prototype available?

Certainly! The source code can be found on GitHub:


I have a technical question. Who can I contact?

We are happy to help you if you send an email to tech@netwerkdigitaalerfgoed.nl.