INFO 202 Fall 2008 - Assignment 4

Faceted Classification

Assigned 29 September, due 6 October

Primary TA: Shawna Hein

Follow steps 1-5 below, paying particular attention to what you need to submit in step 5. Please complete this work before 9:00 AM on Monday 6 October. We will discuss it in the section that day.

1. Getting Acquainted with Facetmap

Get acquainted with the Facetmap web site at In particular, look at the wine demo ( to see how the three facets of Varietals, Region, and Price combine to organize hundreds of wine instances. The demo will start up in the "Commentary Track" that explains what is going on as you specify facet values to select wines in the collection. Notice that there are three different user interface styles for the display of the facets and the items that are selected by different facet values. Think about the pros and cons of each style of display.

2. Designing a Faceted Classification System

Design a faceted classification system to organize household "tools" (yes, this is deliberately left vague - and "tools" is in quotes because some of the items you need to organize might not fit a narrow conventional definition of that category.) Make sure the system meets your own needs for describing the set of tools, but choose facets that anyone could use without any help from you. Make sure your set of facets is flexible enough to handle future additions to your list.

You can use as many facets as you need, but include at least four. We are providing 10 tools for you to start with, and we are providing pictures of them so that everyone has the same instance in mind (because some of the tools come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, etc.).

Download the zip file containing the tool pictures from:

3. Testing Your Facets with 5 New Instances

After you are certain that your system of facets can classify the 10 starter instances, you will test it with 5 additional ones. You will get these 5 instances (in the form of pictures of tools) from one of your classmates, or by asking the professor or one of the TAs.

You can use as a source of these pictures or take them yourself if you want, but in any case you should arrange for this "instance swap" right away, and not wait until the night before the assignment is due (to request facets from the professor or TAs, send email to all four of us and one of us will probably get back to you very soon). Revise your facets and add new ones if necessary to enable your system to classify the 15 instances you now have.

4. Encoding Your Work for Facetmap

Once you have a system that handles all your instances, encode it and all your instances using either the XML or the text file format shown on Facetmap. (

Facetmap's Limitations

Last year's students ran into several quirks, bugs and limitations while using Facetmap. Several of these bugs have been resolved but we can make no guarantees that you won't stumble upon some brand new ones. Have patience, make note of any compromises or design changes you had to make because of limitations of Facetmap or facets in general and send email to the class list if you are having difficulties that other students might encounter.

Facetmap enforces a strict "occurrence exclusivity" principle in assigning values in a facet. This means if a library facet map has a "subject" facet that includes both a "War" and a "Peace" heading, your copy of Tolstoy's renowned work about both war and peace cannot be listed under both. Keep this in mind when designing your facets and facet values. This principle is what distinguishes faceted classification from "tagging" in the flickr or sense, where any tag can be assigned to any information resource or object regardless of other tags already associated with it.

After you've uploaded your facetmap, it will be available for 7 days, but after that it may expire, so be sure to keep a copy of what you submitted.

5. Submitting Your Work (before 9:00 AM on Monday 6 October 2008)

Upload your facetmap file to, using this file naming convention: ischool2008_yourlogin (For example, the professor's facet map would be: ischool2008_glushko)

Upload your facetmap file using the "Assignment Upload" link in the top section of the course home page

Upload a short report (Name it 202A4_YourName) in HTML, creating it from XML using the report document type and XML transform that you used in Assignment 3. This report should have two sections, and each can be just a paragraph or two.

  1. Section 1 should describe your use of the Facetmap program, especially any compromises you made in your design because of perceived limitations;
  2. Section 2 should reflect on how well your initial facet design (part 2 of the assignment) handled the 5 additional instances (part 3) and any changes you needed to make in your facets.

Bring four printed copies of your facetmap file and your report to class on Monday 6 October.