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Entry Points for Learning About ISO 15926

Status of this document: Working Draft

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  1. Introduction to ISO 15926
    1. Primer
    2. Introductory PowerPoint
  2. Need for ISO15926
    1. NIST Interoperability Study
  3. Other Information Sources
    1. Wikipedia
    3. USPI
    4. InfoWeb
    5. TC184/SC4
    6. ISO 15926 Structure & Parts
  4. Must Read Documents
    1. Compliance Guide
    2. Characterization Methodology
    3. Template Methodology
    4. Business Interfaces Definition Guide (BIDG)
    5. iRING
  5. Software Vendor Support for ISO 15926
    1. Intergraph
    2. Bentley Systems
    3. AVEVA
  6. Related Organizations
    1. FIATECH
    2. POSC Caesar Association (PCA)
    3. OpenO&M
    4. MIMOSA (Manufacturing Information Management Open Systems Alliance)
    5. USPI (Uitgebreid Samenwerkingsverband Procesindustrie Nederland)
    6. EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute, Inc.)
    7. Energistics
    8. ARC Advisory Group
  7. RDS/WIP Browsers
    1. rdlfaçade
    2. POSC Caesar Part 4 Browser
    3. DNV Reference Data Browser
    4. TC184-SC4 RDL
  8. Semantic Web Technology
    1. Semantic Web Overview
    2. RDF (Resource Description Framework)
    3. XML (Extensible Markup Language)
    4. OWL (Web Ontology Language)
    5. SPARQL
    6. QXF
    7. QMXF
    8. Gellish
  9. Information Modeling Resources
    1. A Short Introduction to Data Modeling
    2. The Archives of Dr. Matthew West
    3. IOHN Modeling Guide
  10. Other Links
    1. How It Works
    2. Parts of ISO 15926
    3. Mapping
    4. Façades
    5. Triplestores
    6. Transformation Adapters
  11. Implementing ISO15926
    1. Overview
    2. How to Map Legacy Data to ISO 15926 Classes/Templates
    3. Template Characterization - How to create templates for your legacy …
    4. How to add new Reference Data
    5. Compliance Levels

Introduction to ISO 15926


The Primer (which you are reading right now) is one of the best places to start to get a general overview. It starts with what ISO 15926 intends to do for information exchange, and includes a history, a description of the parts of ISO 15926, and some ideas for building a business plan and implementing it at your organizations.

Introductory PowerPoint

This PowerPoint was written by one of the current developers of ISO 15926. It is a high-level listing of the main introductory points with references.

Need for ISO15926

NIST Interoperability Study

In 2004,the the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) released a report on the impact of the lack of digital interoperability in the capital projects industry. They pegged the cost of inadequate interoperability to be $5.8 billion per year. The full report is over 200 pages. If you can't read the whole thing, the introduction and abstract will give you the flavor of the report, and Chapters 2 and 3 describe the evolution of information exchange, and the current state of interoperability, respectively.

Other Information Sources


This Wikipedia page is a much briefer overview of ISO 15926, also including a history and a description of the parts of ISO 15926.

This site is another introduction to ISO 15926. The original purpose of the site was building a knowledge base for the practical implementation of ISO 15926. While the developers of ISO 15926 envision a standard that is easy to apply (with the complexity hidden inside things most people won't need to look at), developing the standard has proven to be quite complex. The practitioners who maintained this site are now working in other places. Still, this site will give you a different perspective on the purpose and origins of ISO 15926. It includes a good History and a comprehensive Glossary.


USPI is a Dutch organization whose purpose is to promote the use of international standards and best practices for product and plant life cycle information. This page talks about the background of ISO 15926 and some of its parts.


This site was created by one of the original developers of ISO 15926, now retired. It contains a wealth of topics including another good introduction.


ISO Technical Committee 184/Subcommittee 4 is the body charged (among other things) with oversight of ISO 15926. This site provides a means of communication between their members, and is a repository of press releases, meeting minutes, and links to its subprojects.

ISO 15926 Structure & Parts

This is a listing of all the parts of ISO 15926.

Must Read Documents

Compliance Guide

Follow the link on this page to the Compliance Document, which discusses the various levels of compliance. ISO 15926 does not have to be implemented all at once. There are several axes of compliance and several steps on each axis. The Compliance Guide is both a sort of road map to full implementation, and a rough measure of the level of compliance of an ISO 15926 implementation.

Characterization Methodology

    Look for links to two documents:
    • ISO15926 Methodology Specification for Dataset Template Characterization. (Word document.)
    • ISO15926 Workbook for Public Template Definitions and their Business Selection Logic. (Excel Spreadsheet.)

Any existing schema can be "characterized", or transformed into an ISO 15926 schema. The easiest way to do this is to use Templates. This page is the beginning of instructions on how to do this.

Template Methodology

This page is the beginning of several pages on methodology for developing templates.

Business Interfaces Definition Guide (BIDG)

The Business Interfaces Definition Guide (as it is now known) is a discussion of what information should be handed over to the owner of a capital project, and what the benefits are, both short and long term. It is being used by the developers of ISO 15926 to guide the development of the classes that make up Part 4 and the templates that make up Part 7. It is worth reading to understand the direction the development of ISO 15926 will take. It is issued in two parts:

  • Part 2 consists of a more detailed methodology and some case studies. It is divided again into two parts, one for general buildings, and one for process plants:

If you are interested in a bit of history, the Business Interfaces Definition Guide was formerly known as the Process Industries Data Handover Guide. It was issued in two parts by EPISTLE in the late 1990's.

  • Part 1 consisted of guidelines for establishing the requirements for the exchange of facilities information between engineering contractors and owner/operators.
  • Part 2 consisted of guidelines for the types and formats of handover information.


ISO 15926 Realtime Interoperability Network Grid is the name given to the suite of tools developed during the Camelot project, demonstrated at the Spring 2009 FIATECH Conference. The suite of tools includes open source software that can be used to implement the full specification of ISO 15926.

Software Vendor Support for ISO 15926


Intergraph Corporation is the publisher of the PDS and SmartPlant suite of plant design software. This link talks about the need of having ISO15926 standards in place and it's effectiveness in Process Facility Industry.

Bentley Systems

Bentley Systems is the publisher of the PlantSpace and AutoPLANT suites of plant design software. This link describes what Bentley sees as some of the major benefits of ISO 15926. It is interesting to see, near the bottom of page 2, that Bentley sees the inevitable increased competition between software vendors (if ISO 15926 is widely accepted) as a benefit.


AVEVA's V-NET product, which relates many different sorts of plant information to a 3D plant model, uses the ISO 15926-4 schema.

AVEVA is an active proponent of XmPLant, a schema also based on ISO 15926-4, which it uses primarily to convert PDS 3D models to PDMS.

Related Organizations


FIATCH is a consortium of owners of large industrial and power facilities, the engineers that design them, the constructors that build them, the manufacturers that make equipment for them, and the software developers that make tools for all of the above. When they come together at FIATECH, the common goal of all of these organizations is to make a large, significant improvement in the design, engineering, construction, and maintenance of large capital assets.

FIATECH is the sponsor of the "ADI" part of the "IDS-ADI" project to develop ISO 15926.

POSC Caesar Association (PCA)

The POSC Caesar Association is a global organization of nonprofit members that promotes the development of open specifications that are to be used as standards for interoperability of plant information.

POSC is the sponsor of the "IDS" part of the "IDS-ADI" project to develop ISO 15926.


OpenO&M is an initiative of a number of industry standards organizations whose purpose is to provide a harmonized set of standards for the exchange of Operations & Maintenance (O&M) data and associated context.

MIMOSA (Manufacturing Information Management Open Systems Alliance)

MIMOSA is a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to developing and encouraging the adoption of open information standards for Operations and Maintenance in manufacturing, fleet, and facility environments. MIMOSA's open standards enable collaborative asset lifecycle management in both commercial and military applications. MIMOSA works closely with OpenO&M.

USPI (Uitgebreid Samenwerkingsverband Procesindustrie Nederland)

USPI ( a.k.a. The Dutch Process and Power Industry Association) is a group of plant owners and EPC contractors whose purpose is to promote the use of international standards and best practices for product and plant life cycle information.

USPI was one of the original sponsors of what is known as the EPISTLE Core Model, which is now formally standardized as ISO 15926-2.

EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute, Inc.)

EPRI conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public.


Energistics is a global consortium that facilitates an inclusive user community for the development, deployment and maintenance of collaborative technologies using open data exchange standards for the upstream oil and natural gas industry.

Energistics is a forebear of what is now the POSC Caesar Association.

ARC Advisory Group

ARC Advisory Group is a research and advisory firm for manufacturing, energy, and supply chain solutions.

RDS/WIP Browsers

The classes that make up Part 4, the dictionary of ISO 15926, are stored in what is called the RDS/WIP (Reference Data System/Work In Progress.) To search the classes you use an RDS/WIP browser.

For more information about RDS/WIP:

This second link contains links to a great deal of information on how the RDS/WIP is implemented.

There are a number of browsers for the RDS/WIP:


The RDS/WIP Search, otherwise known as the "RDL Façade" was created during the early development of ISO 15926.

For instructions on how to use the browser:

POSC Caesar Part 4 Browser

POSC Caesar has its own library of reference data presented in the form of spreadsheets:

POSC Caesar has developed a browser for ISO 15926-4 reference data:

Some instructions on using the POSC browser:

DNV Reference Data Browser

Det Norske Veritas (DNV) has also created its own browser:


Technical Committee 184 - Subcommittee 4 of ISO maintains its own Reference Data library. The classes in the RDS/WIP are based on these classes.

  • Instructions:
    • In upper right corner select "lifecycle integration schema".
    • Below, select "201 Entities".
    • Below, select a class. For instance "Single Property Dimension".

Semantic Web Technology

This section describes some of the technology that is being used to implement ISO 15926. As we have said many times, As we have said, the large majority of ISO 15926 users will not need to know this. But if you are curious on how things work, or if you have aspirations of joining an ISO 15926 implementation team, a basic requirement will be to at least understand the technology below. It's sort of like saying "If you want to be a mechanical engineer you will have to know how to use Excel."

Semantic Web Overview

This is a good general introduction to the Semantic Web. We use computers to search the Web, but computers cannot do this by themselves because web pages are designed to be read by humans. The vision of the Semantic Web is to make information that can be understood by computers.

This is an introduction to the Semantic Web from the point of view of ISO 15926. It discusses the Semantic Web technologies, its relevance to the process industry, and current technical limitations.

  • This is a general, comprehensive introduction for anybody trying to understanding the Semantic Web Technology. It also has list of some of the good primers and materials currently available on Semantic Web.

This is the Semantic Web introduction by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries. It is a collaborative effort led by W3C with participation from a large number of researchers and industrial partners. It is based on the Resource Description Framework (RDF). This page contains links to many related publications, articles, and interviews.

An Interview with Tim Berners-Lee on The Semantic Web.

A high-level overview of the architecture of the WWW by Tim Berners-Lee.

RDF (Resource Description Framework)

If you dig deeper under the hood of ISO 15926 you will soon run into this term because it is the means of storing the Part 4 definitions. If you really want to know more about RDF, here are a few places to start.

    This starts with another introduction to the Semantic Web, but then very briefly describes how RDS and OWL work to implement the Semantic Web. This is a good introduction because it introduces some concepts of information modeling graphically.
    A summary of the development of RDF. It includes more references in case you haven't had enough yet.

If the RDF material above put you to sleep don't say I didn't warn you. (I seem to remember using the word "daunting".) The first question to ask is whether or not you actually need to understand it. Most users of 15926 will not even have to know how to spell "RDF", let alone know what the initials stand for.

If you do want to persevere, a good place to start is to learn about the enabling technology. The abstract (remember that word?) RDF model can be implemented in a number of ways. The sections below describe the technology used by ISO 15926.

XML (Extensible Markup Language)

ISO 15926 uses Extensible Markup Language as a transport language. With XML, information is written in a manner that allows machines to know what the data values represent. Like HTML, XML uses tags bounded by "<" and ">", but the tags in XML are intended to describe what the data is, rather than how to render it on a computer screen. Thus, the appearance of an XML document is not generally important.

OWL (Web Ontology Language)

OWL is actually a family languages for creating ontologies. It is fundamental to the Semantic Web. OWL ontologies are usually expressed using RDF/XML syntax.

    W3C Overview. The OWL Web Ontology Language is designed for use by applications that need to process the content of information instead of just presenting information to humans. OWL facilitates greater machine interpretability of Web content than that supported by XML, RDF, and RDF Schema (RDF-S) by providing additional vocabulary along with a formal semantics.


SPARQL, pronounced "sparkle", is a query language designed to be used with RDF triple stores. It's name is self referencing, "SPARQL Protocol and RDF Query Language". The ISO 15926 RDS/WIP uses SPARQL.

    SPARQL is an RDF query language; its name is a recursive acronym that stands for SPARQL Protocol and RDF Query Language. It was standardized by the RDF Data Access Working Group (DAWG) of the World Wide Web Consortium, and is considered a key semantic web technology.
    W3C Query Protocol for RDF. SPARQL can be used to express queries across diverse data sources, whether the data is stored natively as RDF or viewed as RDF via middleware. SPARQL contains capabilities for querying required and optional graph patterns along with their conjunctions and disjunctions.


    QXF is an XML format that allows representation of only template instances. Since all ISO 15926 data (including reference data) is representable as instances of templates, this is sufficient to describe all reference data.



Gellish (originally derived from General Engineering Language) is a language in which information can be expressed in a manner that is computer readable. Gellish is one way to make the ISO 15926-7 templates.

Information Modeling Resources

Information modeling is the core of ISO 15926. Most people won't have to know anything about it, but a "lucky few" will get to go all the way down the rabbit hole.

For instance, elsewhere in this Primer we have used the metaphor of heavier than air flight. Most of us use flight by phoning our travel agent to book a trip. But a few people (they probably also describe themselves as the "lucky few") will study aeronautical engineering and learn why airplanes fly.

The barriers to digital interoperability are no longer hardware and technology, but rather information modeling. To truly develop ubiquitous digital interoperability, we will need robust information models that describe plant objects and the relationships between them, from their inception, through operation, to demobilization. This provides a distinct growth opportunity for plant engineers who understand that information about plant objects is as valuable as the objects themselves. When we have a large knowledge base, classified accurately, we will be able to exchange worthwhile information without human involvement in each transfer.

If you would like to become one of the "lucky few", here are some publications to get you started. The bad news is that the notation and terminology of information modeling can be daunting to newcomers. The author's suggestion is "Keep Reading!" Eventually it will start to make sense.

A Short Introduction to Data Modeling

In Data Model Quality: Where Good Data Begins, David C. Hay attempts to address the question of the quality of data modeling. Whether or not he adequately answers the question will be left to others with more experience, but along the way he does give a good introduction, with examples that beginners can relate to.

The Archives of Dr. Matthew West

Dr. West has a long history with Shell's Information Management department, and was a developer of parts of ISO 15926 before he retired. He has posted many of his publications on his website:

There is a wealth of information here for those introducing themselves to information modeling. Newcomers should start part way down the list and work back up to the top.

  • Replaceable Parts: A Four Dimensional Analysis (2003)
  • Developing Shell’s Downstream Data Model based on ISO 15926 (2006)
  • An Introduction to 4 Dimensionalism in Data Modelling (2007)
  • Developing Shell’s Downstream Data Model based on ISO 15926 (2007)
  • Levels of reality in ISO 15926 and Shell's Downstream Data Model (2007)
  • Roles: A Four-Dimensional Analysis (2008)
  • ISO 15926: Original purpose and possible future
  • Ontology Meets Business (2009)
  • 4 Dimensional Data Modelling: An Ontological Approach (2009)

And another paper that has been cited by others:

  • Developing High Quality Data Models (Version 2.0) (1996)

If you would like to listen to one of Dr. West's lectures on ISO 15926, two of them are available from the archives of Ontolog, a community devoted to advancing the field of ontology.

Just over half way down the page are some links where you can download the PowerPoint presentation. Near the bottom is a link to the audio recording of the presentation.

IOHN Modeling Guide

The Integrated Operations in the High North (IOHN) project is a unique collaboration between the IT, defense and oil and gas industries. It is a proponent of ISO 15926 because ISO 15926 will enable more efficient and safer operation of remote sites. For their members they have developed a training course on ISO 15926 and an introduction to information modeling. They have recently released it to the public.

Bear in mind that this course will tell you about ISO 15926, but not how to use it.

The following links are provided as starting points for those who wish to do more investigation. Not all the material is current, mostly because it is no one's job to keep all the sites up to date. So use this at your own risk.

How It Works

This is a very high level simplification of how ISO 15926. Included is an introduction to the various parts of the standard.

Parts of ISO 15926

This introduction was written a while ago (currently, ISO 15926 has eleven parts). But check out the links in Part 2 and Part 3. These may be good references as you begin to understand the details.


This link covers introduction to ISO15926, Part 2 - Data Model, part4 - Reference Data and finally Implementation methodology in Part 7. It also covers basics of Semantic Web Technologies used in ISO15926 implementation.

This link talks about mapping of ISO 15926-2 in EXPRESS to OWL. The EXPRESS file is a computer-interpretable of ISO 15926-2 and therefore a good starting-point for an OWL representation of ISO 15926-2.


This link covers brief introduction of Façade and it's technical architecture in relevance to ISO15926.


This link is about basic definition of Triplestore and very helpful due to it's related links and references on the subject.

Transformation Adapters

This document is about "Realizing Open Information Interoperability" and consists of matrix 8 project "Camelot" software design.

"Camelot" project related documentation links are provided here.

Implementing ISO15926


How to Map Legacy Data to ISO 15926 Classes/Templates

Template Characterization - How to create templates for your legacy classes

your Information model (Template Characterization IS about mapping, creation & using "Reference Data".)

This page is about template Characterization methodology and defines the process for short-cut template selection and assembling to create characterization. It also explicitly document the short-cut/ short-hand and other specific template types implied by this methodology.

How to add new Reference Data

This link has a brief introduction about need of ISO15926 standards, Some examples of the business benefits through adoption of the ISO 15926 standard, Bentley's specific initiative towards development of the ISO 15926 model and implementation of ISO 15926 capabilities within the organization.

Compliance Levels

This document provides guidelines for compliance with ISO-15926. These guidelines are defined according to several “Compliance Categories” to enable pragmatic and rigorous compliance, suitable for business arrangements between participants (Owner-Operators, EPC Contractors, Software and Solutions Vendors, Goods and Materials Vendors, and other Services Contractors) in the relevant industry domains.


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