Support for software extensibility, interoperability and reuse are critical concerns for long term commercial viability of any MAS and they underpin the eventual adoption of agent technology by industry. Existing AOSE methodologies lack adequate support for these concerns. We argue in this paper that a methodology that uses ontologies as a central modelling artifact, beyond the analysis phase, is better equipped to address those concerns.
We observe that the influence of ontologies in Knowledge-based Systems (KBS) methodologies extended well beyond the initial analysis phase, leading to domain-independent KBS methodologies in the ’90s. We reflect on those lessons and on the roles of ontologies in KBS development. We analyse and identify which of those roles can be transferred to an ontology-based MAS development methodology. We identify ontology-related inter-dependencies between the analysis and design phases. We produce a set of recommendations towards creating a domain-independent MAS methodology that incorporates ontologies beyond the analysis phase. We identify the essential features and sketch the characteristic tasks within both the analysis and design phases.