Traditionally, CAD tools have provided limited possibilities for interaction between different participants in a design project. This paper describes an environment for information integration of CAD systems and other application programs referred to as meta-level design information system. Taxonomies of CAD and other application programs with regards to their “integration friendliness” and possibilities for remote access by the enduser are developed. These taxonomies can be used by CAD vendors as a guidance for development of software which can be integrated easier in a higher-level design information system. In this work the taxonomies are used to catalogue the applications and their data.

The information integration infrastructure is based on an object-oriented multidatabase using the WWW to transfer the transactions. An information broker provides a global conceptual view of data and knowledge stored in a metadatabase including description of product data and design constraints, design process, organizational information, etc. It processes user queries and dynamically accesses the information from CAD tools (which act as objects on the WWW) if needed. The CAD tools interface is provided by software network adapters. They export parts of the local application models needed for maintaining intertool constraints and supporting remote queries by participants in the design process who do not have direct access to the CAD systems.

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