Determining Association Types
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Now that you have a list of content and subject types, you must determine how individual items of these different types are related to one another. For example if you have a Person type and a Company type, there could be an association "Person Works For Company". There are two principal kinds of association that you need to create types for. The first are associations between content types and subject types - these are the associations used to classify a piece content against the subjects that it is about. The second kind of association are associations between subject types - these are associations used to take a user from one subject to another. Together these associations will provide the backbone for the navigation of your site.
Association Types For The Company Intranet
As we have chosen to take a very general approach to the content types for the intranet, it is also necessary to be quite general about the ways in which content items relate to subjects. For the Document content type, we decide that content of this type can have one or more primary or major themes and one or more secondary or minor themes. As a Document is a very general type it is difficult to be more precise about the nature of the relationship between a theme and a document. However for the more specific Project Document type we can have more specific association types. The Project Has Document association type connects a Project topic to a Project Document topic indicating that the document is an integral part of the project. We also decide that project documents should have owners and that the ownership of a document should be recorded in our topic map, so we create a Project Document Has Owner association type to connect a Person topic to a Project Document topic.
The diagram below shows these associations expressed in UML notation. The line between boxes indicates a type of association that can be used to connect topics of the types represented by the boxes. The line is labelled with a name for this type of association.
Content Type Associations for the Company Intranet in UML Notation
We can be more creative with the associations between subject types. We decide that this intranet will serve to store information about the expertise of employees and external contacts as well as about the relationships between products, projects, technologies and people. This leads to a more complex set of associations as shown in the diagram below.
Subject Type Associations for the Company Intranet in UML Notation
You will see from the diagram that topics of the type Market Area or Technology topic type can be connected to other topics of the same type in a Broader-Narrower association. This is the mechanism that we will later use to create hierarchies of technologies and market areas for classification and navigation purposes.