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  1. Formats
  2. Columns
  3. Including and Excluding Entities
  4. Rendering Cell Values
  5. Preparing the Ontology

ROBOT can export details about ontology entities as a table. At minimum, the export command expects an input ontology (--input), a set of column headers (--header), and a file to write to (--export):

robot export --input nucleus_part_of.owl \
  --header "ID|LABEL" \
  --export nucleus.csv

Preparing the Ontology

When exporting details on classes using object or data properties, we recommend running reason, relax, and reduce first. You can also create a subset of entities using remove or filter.


The following formats are currently supported:

These can be specified with the --format option:

robot export --input nucleus_part_of.owl \
  --header "LABEL|SubClass Of" \
  --format html --export results/nucleus.html

If this option is not included, export will predict the format based on the file extension:

robot export --input nucleus_part_of.owl \
  --header "ID|LABEL|SubClass Of" \
  --export results/nucleus.json


The --header option is a pipe-separated list of special keywords or properties used in the ontology. The columns in the --header argument will exactly match the first line of the export file (the column headers).

Various --header types are supported:

The first header in the --header list is used to sort the rows of the export. You can change the column that is sorted on by including --sort <header>. This can either be one header, or a pipe-separated list of headers that will be sorted in-order:

robot export --input nucleus_part_of.owl \
  --header "ID|LABEL|SubClass Of" \
  --sort "LABEL|SubClass Of" \
  --export results/nucleus-sorted.csv

In the example above, the rows are first sorted on the NAME field, and then sorted by SubClass Of. This means that entities with the same parent will be grouped in alphabetical order.

If the --sort header starts with ^, the column will be sorted in reverse order.

robot export --input nucleus_part_of.owl \
  --header "ID|LABEL|SubClass Of" \
  --sort "^LABEL" \
  --export results/nucleus-reversed.csv

All special keyword columns will include both named OWL objects (named classes, properties, and individuals) and anonymous expressions (class expressions, property expressions). When using another object or data property, the values will include both individuals and class expressions (from subclass or equivalent statements) in Manchester syntax. When using an annotation property, the literal value will be returned.

By default, multiple values in a cell are separated with a pipe character (|). You can update this to anything you’d like with the --split option. For example, you could separate with commas:

robot export --input nucleus_part_of.owl \
  --header "NAME|SubClass Of" --split ", "

The output of any cell with multiple values is sorted in alphabetical order.

Including and Excluding Entities

By default, the export includes details on the classes and individuals in an ontology. Properties are excluded. You can configure which types of entities you wish to include with the --include <entity types> option. The <entity types> argument is a space-, comma-, or tab-separated list of one or more of the following entity types:

For example, to return the details of individuals only:

robot --prefix "example:" \
  export --input template.owl \
  --header "ID|LABEL|Type" \
  --include "individuals" \
  --export results/individuals.csv

To return details of classes and properties:

robot export --input nucleus_part_of.owl \
  --header "ID|LABEL|Type|SubClass Of|SubProperty Of" \
  --include "classes properties" \
  --export results/classes-properties.csv

The --include option does not need to be specified if you are getting details on individuals and classes. If you do specify an --include, it cannot be an empty string, as no entities will be included in the export.

Finally, the export will include both named entities and anonymous expressions (subclasses, equivalent classes, property expressions). You can change this with the --entity-select option:

For example:

robot export --input nucleus_part_of.owl \
  --header "LABEL|SubClass Of|part of" \
  --entity-select NAMED \
  --export results/nucleus.csv

Note that in the example above, the first two headers are special keywords and the third is the label of a property used in the ontology.

These export-wide defaults can be overridden in specific columns by including the keyword in a square-bracket-enclosed tag following the column name:

For example:

robot export --input nucleus.owl \
  --header "ID|LABEL|SubClass Of [NAMED]|SubClass Of [ANON]|SubClass Of [ANY]" \
  --export results/nucleus_export.csv

Each SubClass Of column in this output is different. The SubClass Of [ANY] column is a combination of both NAMED and ANON.

These tags can be combined with the rendering tags, for example:

robot export --input nucleus.owl \
  --header "ID|LABEL|SubClass Of [NAME NAMED]|SubClass Of [ID NAMED]|SubClass Of [NAME ANON]|SubClass Of [ID ANON]" \
  --export results/nucleus_logic.csv

It is not recommended to use the ANON tag in combination with LABEL, as if an entity used in an anonymous expression does not have a label, it will be rendered as an empty string. Additionally, the entity selection tags will have no effect on annotation property values.

Rendering Cell Values

Entities used in cell values are rendered by one of four different strategies:

By default, values are rendered with the NAME strategy. To update the strategy globally, you can use the --entity-format option and provide one of the above values:

robot export --input nucleus_part_of.owl \
  --header "ID|SubClass Of" \
  --entity-format ID \
  --entity-select NAMED \
  --export results/nucleus-ids.csv

In the above example, all the “subclass of” values will be rendered by their short form ID.

You can also specify different rendering strategies for different columns by including the strategy name in a square-bracket-enclosed tag after the column name:

robot export --input nucleus_part_of.owl \
  --header "rdfs:label|SubClass Of [ID]|SubClass Of [IRI]" \
  --entity-select NAMED \
  --export results/nucleus-iris.csv

These tags should not be used with the following default columns: LABEL, ID, or IRI as they will not change the rendered values.

These tags can be used for object and annotation property columns as well. When using these tags with annotation properties, the value in the cell will only change if the annotation value is an IRI. For literals, the annotation value will always be rendered the same, no matter what the tag is.

Error Messages

Entity Format Error

The allowed --entity-format values are: ID, IRI, NAME, and LABEL

Entity Select Error

The allowed --entity-select values are: NAMED, ANON or ANONYMOUS, and ANY

Include Nothing Error

--include cannot be an empty string as there will be no entities to return details on. Note that classes and individuals are included by default and properties are excluded by default.

Invalid Column Error

A property cannot be resolved, usually meaning that the label cannot be resolved. Ensure that the property label is defined in the input ontology or the column name provided is one of the special keywords.

Multiple Format Error

A column header can only have one entity format tag in the square brackets after the column name.

Multiple Select Error

A column header can only have one entity selection tag in the square brackets after the column name.

Unknown Format Error

The following formats are currently supported: tsv, csv, html, json, and xlsx. Please make sure you are using one of these formats.

Unknown Tag Error

The allowed tag values are: ID, IRI, NAME, LABEL, NAMED, ANON, ANONYMOUS, or ANY.