Towards a method to quantitatively measure toolchain interoperability in the engineering lifecycle: A case study of digital hardware design Articles uri icon

publication date

  • August 2023


  • 86


  • The engineering lifecycle of cyber-physical systems is becoming more challenging than ever. Multiple engineering disciplines must be orchestrated to produce both a virtual and physical version of the system. Each engineering discipline makes use of their own methods and tools generating different types of work products that must be consistently linked together and reused throughout the lifecycle. Requirements, logical/descriptive and physical/analytical models, 3D designs, test case descriptions, product lines, ontologies, evidence argumentations, and many other work products are continuously being produced and integrated to implement the technical engineering and technical management processes established in standards such as the ISO/IEC/IEEE 15288:2015 'Systems and software engineering-System life cycle processes'. Toolchains are then created as a set of collaborative tools to provide an executable version of the required technical processes. In this engineering environment, there is a need for technical interoperability enabling tools to easily exchange data and invoke operations among them under different protocols, formats, and schemas. However, this automation of tasks and lifecycle processes does not come free of charge. Although enterprise integration patterns, shared and standardized data schemas and business process management tools are being used to implement toolchains, the reality shows that in many cases, the integration of tools within a toolchain is implemented through point-to-point connectors or applying some architectural style such as a communication bus to ease data exchange and to invoke operations. In this context, the ability to measure the current and expected degree of interoperability becomes relevant: 1) to understand the implications of defining a toolchain (need of different protocols, formats, schemas and tool interconnections) and 2) to measure the effort to implement the desired toolchain. To improve the management of the engineering lifecycle, a method is defined: 1) to measure the degree of interoperability within a technical engineering process implemented with a toolchain and 2) to estimate the effort to transition from an existing toolchain to another. A case study in the field of digital hardware design comprising 6 different technical engineering processes and 7 domain engineering tools is conducted to demonstrate and validate the proposed method.


  • internet; software as a service; software reusability; software tools; web services