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Digital Viewpoint

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Written By John H. Coleman, Ph.D. (Email:
Submitted September 7, 2018
Last Modified on December 12, 2018

Concise Definition

A descriptive model of a digital view that uses conventions, formalisms and standards to assembles digital artifacts into the contents of a digital view that meets stakeholders’ unique needs.

The Concept

The digital viewpoint converts digital artifacts into the contents of a digital view [1]. It uses descriptive models to define, assemble, layout, and present digital artifacts in a digital environment; such that, they serve specific activities performed by stakeholders. The digital viewpoint identifies digital artifacts it needs from an authoritative source of truth to produce the digital view. In addition, the digital viewpoint defines what a stakeholder-network wants to view from its digital engineering ecosystem. The digital viewpoint may be unique for stakeholders at any stage of the system lifecycle or any component of the supply chain. The viewpoint is digital because it is applied to a set of digital artifacts using software and digital technology to produce the digital view. A creator of a digital viewpoint would design it to fulfill the point of view of the stakeholders [1]; thus, they can perform decision-making activities, conduct their responsibilities, or both. The digital viewpoint defines one or more digital artifacts, the standards and conventions to compile the digital artifacts, or the operations to present digital artifacts in a variety of digital multimedia formats [1]. The digital viewpoint may include models, designs, or computer algorithms that specify the type, structure and organization of a digital view’s content. Thus, the digital viewpoint is a model for digital multimedia presentations of digital artifacts based on stakeholders’ point of view, authoritative source of truth, and model formalisms [1]


The digital engineering community formed the concept of a digital viewpoint out of a need to describe how engineering practitioners use sources and types of digital artifacts, like models, and assemble and present them in forms that diverse stakeholders need and understand. The DE community borrowed the original concept from the system architecture community and re-conceptualized it to fit the digital engineering community’s need to leverage digital technologies to create, exchange, and present their digital work products. However, it is more than a static document that specifies the digital view. It may be a digital model of the digital view using standards such as Information Flow Modeling Language (IFML). Alternatively, it may be an application-programming interface (API) or other executable software code that assembles digital artifacts and renders the digital view according to the digital viewpoint.


The digital viewpoint may be an executable software that pulls and creates the digital view, it may be a digital data model that defines the digital view, or it can be a digital text based document. It should include the following information:

  • Metadata
    • Stakeholders
    • Stakeholders’ Needs
    • Intended Use
    • List of digital artifact elements
    • Authoritative sources for digital artifact elements
  • Digital Viewpoint Model
    • Data Model
    • Relationship Models
    • Layout Design
    • Interactive Hypermedia Design
    • Any executable software code that implements the digital view model

Common usage

  • The project management team enjoyed the hypermedia website that allowed them to see changes to cost and schedule because of a digital viewpoint that defined a digital view to assess change impacts to active requirements models
  • Three teams of finite element analyst needed a digital viewpoint to present an animated simulation of their digital artifacts that explained complex material interactions to the manufacturers.


Designs of presentation layers or digital multimedia using methods, formalisms, and standards such as…

  • NASA Jet Propulsion Lab's DocGen
  • Information Flow Modeling Language (IFML),
  • Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML),
  • Object Oriented Hypermedia Design Method (OOHDM),
  • Application Programming Interfaces (API),
  • Open Graphics Library (OpenGL),
  • query languages (QL),
  • data & information models,
  • Extensible Markup Languages (XML),
  • and file formats, to name a few.

Similar concepts and definitions:

Model View Definition is a similar concept described by National Building Information Modeling (BIM) Standard-United States (NBIMS-US™) as follows:

  • “A specification for data exchange. All the myriad data included in a Building information model (BIM), must be broken down into discrete packages to facilitate information exchange between the different parties involved in design, construction, and operation of a facility. These packages are specified by Model View Definitions (MVD’s). The optimal specification ties the data terms back to the overarching IFC model” [2].

Architecture Viewpoint is a similar concept described by International Standard (ISO) 42010:2011 as follows

  • [A] “work product establishing the conventions for the construction, interpretation and use of architecture views to frame specific system concerns. The viewpoint establishes the conventions for constructing, interpreting and analyzing the view to address concerns framed by that viewpoint. Viewpoint conventions can include languages, notations, model kinds, design rules, and/or modelling methods, analysis techniques and other operations on views” [3].


[1] C. Delp, D. Lam, E. Fosse and C.-Y. Lee, “Model Based Document and Report Generation for Systems Engineering,” in IEEE Aerospace Conference Proceeddings, Big Sky, Montana, 2012.

[2] National Institute of Building Sciences, “Chapter 3: Terms and Definitions,” in National BIM Standard – United States® Version 3, Washington, DC, National Institute of Building Sciences buildingSMART alliance®, 2015, p. 16.

[3] ISO/IEC/IEEE, “42010 - 2011: Systems and software engineering – Architecture description,” International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2011.

mbse/digital_viewpoint.txt · Last modified: 2018/12/12 11:56 by jcoleman