What is CommonKADS?

Knowledge has come to be recognized and handled as a valuable entity in itself. Surveys consistently show that top executives consider knowledge to be the single most important factor in organizational success. In this knowledge-driven society, knowledge systems have their place as an important mainstream technology. That is why there is a strong need to convert the art and craft of knowledge engineering into a real scientific discipline.

CommonKADS is the leading methodology to support structured knowledge engineering. It has been gradually developed and has been validated by many companies and universities in the context of the European ESPRIT IT Programme. It now is the European de facto standard for knowledge analysis and knowledge-intensive system development, and it has been adopted as a whole or has been partly incorporated in existing methods by many major companies in Europe, as well as in the US and Japan.

CommonKADS enables to spot the opportunities and bottlenecks in how organizations develop, distribute and apply their knowledge resources, and so gives tools for corporate knowledge management. CommonKADS also provides the methods to perform a detailed analysis of knowledge-intensive tasks and processes. Finally, CommonKADS supports the development of knowledge systems that support selected parts of the business process.

Who can use CommonKADS?

  • for software engineers who are in the business of building knowledge-intensive IT systems that need to satisfy the organization needs of the customer, CommonKADS offers a de facto standard for system development that ensures a high-quality solution based on reusable components and supported through practical guidelines and tools.
  • for knowledge managers CommonKADS offers methods to create coarse-grained descriptions of knowledge-intensive tasks within the overall business processĀ  as well as techniques for detailed knowledge analysis, knowledge development and knowledge storage.

What is so different about CommonKADS?

Unlike other knowledge engineering approaches, CommonKADS provides a clear link to modern object-oriented development and uses notations compatible with UML. The CommonKADS product has been developed over some 15 years and is now being used in wide variety of application projects and is the in-house standard of a growing number of companies.

After many years of effort, CommonKADS is now entering the mainstream market:

“Most O-O methods are immature. Although current efforts toward standardization of methods and techniques will prove valuable, techniques such as requirements gathering use-cases are likely to give way to more powerful approaches such as those used for years in knowledge engineering (i.e. CommonKADS (KADS-II) ) and ontologies will replace data dictionaries.” (P. Fingar, J. Clarke & J. Stikeleather, The Business of Distributed Object Computing, Object Magazine, April 1997).

The CommonKADS textbook

In December 1999 the CommonKADS textbook has become available. It is published by The MIT Press.

CommonKADS textbook cover

CommonKADS and O-O

CommonKADS uses UML notations wherever possible, in particular class diagrams, activity diagrams and state diagrams. An appendix of the textbook explains how this feature i detail.

The knowledge-modelling framework is similar in spirit to modern object-oriented component frameworks. The templates are what one could call “patterns of knowledge-intensive tasks” in O-O jargon.

CommonKADS course material

A long list of universities offer courses in which CommonKADS features. Course instructors can download of a set of course transparencies. The exercises at this website can be used as practice material for university courses.

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