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Digital Viewpoint

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Written By John H. Coleman, Ph.D. For comments, contact:

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 defines the digital view according to the needs of stakeholders performing specific activities at any phase or step in the system life cycle. The conventions, formalisms, and standards used to define the systematic procedures drive the requirements that comprise the digital viewpoint. Thus, the digital viewpoint defines how to select, compile, layout, and present digital artifacts in a digital ecosystem. The digital viewpoint also identifies sources of content that support the object-of-interests and facilitates information exchange between different stakeholders involved in the lifecycle and 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. The author of a digital viewpoint specifies its requirements according to stakeholders’ needs to perform decision-making activities, conduct their responsibilities, or both. The digital viewpoint specifies the required 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. The digital viewpoint may include models, designs, or computer algorithms that specify the type, structure and organization of content. Thus, the digital viewpoint is a specification for digital multimedia presentations of digital artifacts based on stakeholder requirements, content sources, and standards.


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 design.


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 View Design
    • Data Model
    • Digital Multimedia Design
    • Any executable software code that implements the design of the digital view

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…

  • 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” [4].

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” [5].


[4] 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.

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

mbse/digital_viewpoint.1544631773.txt.gz · Last modified: 2018/12/12 11:22 by jcoleman