The OntoPortal Virtual Appliance


The OntoPortal Virtual Appliance is your opportunity to run an advanced semantic repository and analytics tool in your own environment.

Whether you want a personal annotation tool that can process your documents 100% of the time, a repository of your company’s vocabularies and related public ontologies for data management and data analysis, or even to run your own public semantic repository with the content and settings that you want, the OntoPortal Virtual Appliance can serve your needs.

What is it?

The OntoPortal Virtual Appliance (“Appliance” for short) is a packaged, deployable form of the software we use to run the BioPortal ontology repository. Handling over 80,000 page visits per month and 3 million API requests per day, BioPortal has long been the premier ontology repository for semantic information—vocabularies and ontologies—about biomedicine. When many users started asking about running a version of BioPortal in their own environment, we provided this package to meet their needs. The community has been deploying versions of the Appliance to meet all sorts of needs ever since.


First developed by Stanford University and collaborators as part of the NIH-funded National Center for Biomedical Ontologies (NCBO), the deployable version of the software began as the NCBO Virtual Appliance. After the NCBO initiative ended in 2015, we eventually renamed the Appliance to the more recognizable BioPortal Virtual Appliance. Quickly we decided this tool wasn’t just about biomedical content—you can use it to create a repository for semantic content from any domain. That’s when we started calling it the OntoPortal Virtual Appliance, so everyone would know it could meet their semantic needs.

The Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research (BMIR) has been the primary developer and maintainer of BioPortal and the Appliance since their beginnings in 2005. As use of both BioPortal and the Appliance has grown, BMIR and its collaborators realized the importance of creating a sustainable community and process to ensure the software could grow and prosper.

Working with three other researchers who saw the need for Appliance-based applications, BMIR has started the OntoPortal Alliance to meet these community goals. This web site is the home of the OntoPortal Alliance, and also of its flagship software product, the OntoPortal Virtual Appliance. We encourage you to explore the site to learn how you can help make the OntoPortal Virtual Appliance and the OntoPortal Alliance meet your own needs, and the needs of research communities across the world.