Ask any handyman what's the most important thing he needs to get the job done and he'll probably say his toolbox. Thanks to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), there's now a toolbox to help those involved in the development, validation and implementation of international standards for manufacturing systems. This toolbox is a Web site that contains links to databases, software packages, test suites and other information technology support products and tools that have been developed in recent years by NIST' Manufacturing Systems Integration Division.
For example, one of the tools in the testing and evaluation support section contains a "naming assister" that provides guidance with consistent naming conventions for elements and types based on ISO 11179 (the international metadata standard). A tool in the semantic technology support section lets users try their hand at a "20 Questions" exercise to capture exactly how their own applications represent processes and activities in terms of the Process Specification Language. (PSL is a neutral language that helps manufacturers exchange process information among different applications in their company.) The third part of the toolbox—application support—features Expect, NIST's software used to glue together different computer applications and automate the result. Finally, the standards development section supplies tools for dealing with various aspects of the STandard for Exchange of Product model data (STEP, formally known as ISO 10303), which provides a neutral format that enables the exchange of data between proprietary systems.
Access the NIST MSID Products and Tools Web site.