This paper describes a multidatabase environment that supports integration and communication between computer-aided design (CAD) tools in an engineering design environment. Our specific approach uses an object-oriented database system as a shared design manager (SDM). The SDM provides a blackboard for communication among CAD tools that uses the STEP (Standard for the Exchange of Product Data) product model as a global conceptual view of data. A unique aspect of the SDM is the flexibility that it provides in configuration of the design environment and in establishing communication. We have developed a meta data component that not only stores information about the global view of the design, but also serves as an interface description repository. Different aspects of the global view can be dynamically associated with specific interfaces. Information about operations associated with each interface can also be dynamically defined. Since the environment uses dynamic binding techniques for operation calls, interface and operation descriptions can easily be modified, and new descriptions can be added to the environment at any time. The flexibility provided by this approach enhances interoperability among the tools of the environment and makes it easy to configure different sets of design tools, thus providing a more open architecture for communication in engineering design. This paper also addresses the use of schema evolution concepts to keep the temporary object storage component of the SDM up-to-date as CAD tool interfaces are modified, added, and deleted.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Theoretical Computer Science
- Computer Science Applications
- Computational Theory and Mathematics
- Artificial Intelligence