How can Semantic Annotations be used to describe openBIS Sample/Property Types?

I discovered the concept of semantic annotations for openBIS Object/Property Types while going through the pyBIS doc and found some more information in the V3 API chapter, but still struggle to figure out how they are meant to work exactly.

I understand that semantic annotations can be added to

  • an Object/Sample type (I use the term “Sample” in the following)
  • a Property type
  • a Sample Property assignment (as in a Property type as used by a specific Sample type? Since there is no differentiation between local and global Properties anymore since release 20.10.3)

I also don’t understand the pyBIS notation of semantic annotations yet. A practical example for this in the documentation would be very helpful.
Supposing I have an openBIS Property type “temperature” which I want to annotate with the class Temperature ( from the Common Core Ontologies (curated in Quality Ontology, Version 1.3,

What would the “predicate” and what would be the “descriptor” in this case?

sa = o.new_semantic_annotation(
entityType = ‘UNKNOWN’,
predicateOntologyId = ‘po_id’,
predicateOntologyVersion = ‘po_version’,
predicateAccessionId = ‘pa_id’,
descriptorOntologyId = ‘do_id’,
descriptorOntologyVersion = ‘do_version’,
descriptorAccessionId = ‘da_id’)

I would also like to know whether there are any plans to integrate the concept of semantic annotations to the ELN and/or the Admin UI. It would, e.g., be great if a user could see both description of a Property as well as the semantic annotations when hovering with the mouse over the Property type, similar to how it’s already done for Sample info inside the Storage Manager.

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Dear Rukeia,

we have recently updated our documentation on semantic annotations in openBIS: Semantic Annotations - openBIS Documentation Rel. 20.10 - Confluence

In the next openBIS release, planned before end of year, we plan to provide support for using semantic annotations in the XLS masterdata import.
For a future release we plan to provide support for annotations on the admin UI and provide export in OWL/RDF format.
I hope this helps.

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It’s great that you plan to support semantic annotations in openBIS :+1:

I looked into the semantic representation of ISA-Tab experimental metadata as OWL (linkedISA).
Do you also consider to build a top-level ontology on openBIS classes or types, analogous to the ISA terms ontology?

I also don´t understand what I am supposed to write in which field. Where do I put the URL of my ontology?

I tried to create a semantic annotation for a property type by filling in some random values via pyBIS but nothing appeared in the corresponding fields in the Admin Client.
Is there maybe something wrong with the documentation?


Dear Julia,

ontologies are currently only supported on the API level, not the UI.
UI support will come with the next openBIS version.