PCPACK5 is an integrated suite of 10 knowledge tools designed to support the acquisition and use of knowledge.
It has the flexibility to support various methodologies such as
Whether capturing knowledge to produce an intranet site, a knowledge repository
or a knowledge-based system, the tools support a number of key activities:
- Analysing knowledge from text documents
- Structuring knowledge using various knowledge models
- Acquiring and validating knowledge from experts
- Publishing and implementing the captured knowledge
- Re-using knowledge across different domains
Such activities are vital to most Knowledge Engineering and
Knowledge Management projects. The use of software to support such
activities helps in many ways to make the process more efficient, effective and consistent.
Download a Demo Copy
You can download a fully operational demonstration copy of PCPACK5 which gives you 60 days of free evaluation.
The download is available through our sister company, Tacit Connexions. To do this, please
If you have downloaded PCPACK5, you can learn how to use it by following a detailed
tutorial that covers most of the main tools and functions.
You can see a series of short videos that demonstrate many features of PCPACK5. The videos follow the
with an explanatory commentary by Dr Nick Milton. The videos are in the CBT section of the PCPACK
website and requires you to register. To do this, please click here.
A brief history of PCPACK
PCPACK was born out of academic research in the early 1990s involving
Professor Nigel Shadbolt's Artificial Intelligence Group
at the University of Nottingham. The aim of this work was to define and
explore ways in which software tools could help knowledge engineers to acquire
knowledge for the development of knowledge-based systems (i.e. AI systems that
emulate the reasoning of experts, such as a physicians
In 1993, Professor Nigel Shadbolt co-founded Epistemics to turn this research
and prototype software into a robust, practical system. The first versions
of PCPACK were written (funded by the UK Defence Research Agency) for use on
During the period from 1995 to 1997, PCPACK was further developed and used as a commercial
product for knowledge engineers working on the development of knowledge-based systems.
From 1997 to 2000, PCPACK began to be evaluated for use as a Knowledge Management tool.
A number of lessons and design requirements emerged from this work, such as enabling PCPACK to be useable by
novice knowledge engineers for acquiring organizational knowledge for publication on intranet sites.
PCPACK5 was developed over a 3-year period from 1999 to 2002. Since then, developments have
continued to be made especially in the publishing capabilities. The aim throughout the development
has been to fully update the software to meet the requirements of both advanced Knowledge
Engineering and Knowledge Management projects. There have been four major changes
from previous versions.
- The number of tools has been rationalised to focus on those that are
most often used in Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management projects
- The flexibility of the tools has been greatly enhanced thus allowing
users to customise many aspects of the tools
- The user interface has been greatly improved to increase the ease of
learning and using the tools
- A publishing capability has been added so that a website can be created
"at the press of button"
To create a fully flexible tool, various templates have been included within PCPACK5:
- Ontology templates: These are special forms of knowledgebase that are used
as the basis for new knowledgebases.
- Diagram templates: These are used to define the format of diagrams used
in the Diagram Tool.
- Annotation templates: These are used to define the structure, style and
contents of annotation pages.
- Publication templates: These are used to define the structure, style and
contents of the websites created using the Publisher Tool.
PCPACK5 is available in two versions:
- A network application that allows knowledgebases to be stored and
accessed by multiple users over a network
- A single user version that operates on a local PC or laptop
PCPACK5 runs on Windows 95, 98, 2000, ME, NT, XP and Vista. A modern internet
browser is required (e.g. IE 5.5 or above).
There are 10 tools in PCPACK5: 5 acquisition and modelling tools, and 5 specialised tools.
Acquisition and Modelling Tools:
- The Protocol Tool is used to analyse a transcript or other text document.
- The Ladder Tool is used to construct hierarchical diagrams.
- The Diagram Tool is used to construct network-style diagrams.
- The Matrix Tool is used to construct two styles of matrix.
- The Annotation Tool is used to create web-style pages for each knowledge object.
- The Admin Tool is used to access and manage knowledgebases.
This tool is not included in PCPACK4.
- The Publisher Tool is used to create websites.
- The Diagram Template Tool is used to create templates used in the Diagram Tool.
- The Equation Editor is used to create equations for use in the Annotation Tool.
This tool is not included in PCPACK4.
- The Tool Launcher is a wizard tool allowing easy access to the other tools.
Interaction of Tools
The way the tools interact with the XML knowledgebase is shown below.
To view some examples of the knowledge models that can be created in PCPACK
click the arrow buttons below (if you have a slow internet connection, you may have to wait a few seconds for the images to download).
The development of PCPACK has involved a number of academic
research projects. As such, PCPACK has been described and referenced in a number
of academic papers and books. Should you be interested in this work, the following
list (shown in chronological order) shows the key references.
- Shadbolt, N., Motta, E. & Rouge, A. (1993). Constructing Knowledge-Based
Systems. IEEE Software, November 1993, p34-39.
- Motta, E. et al (1996). Solving VT in VITAL: a study in model construction
and knowledge reuse. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Volume
- Goodall (Ed.) (1996). The PCPACK Knowledge Analysis Tool. AI Watch, Volume
- Zanconato, R. & Davies, A. (1997). Design for a Knowledge-Based Decision
Support System to Assist Near Littoral Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Operations.
Proceedings of the 4th Joint GAF/RAF/USAF Workshop in Human-Computer Teamwork.
- Montero, L. & Scott, C. T. (1998). Improving the Quality of Component Business
Systems with Knowledge Engineering. Proceedings of the 11th Knowledge Acquisition
for Knowledge-Based Systems Workshop. Banff, Alberta, Canada.
- O'Hara, K. & Shadbolt, N. R. & Van Heijst, G. (1998). Generalised Directive
Models: Integrating Model Development and Knowledge Acquisition. International
Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Volume 49, p497-522.
- Shadbolt, N. and Milton, N. (1999). From Knowledge Engineering to Knowledge
Management. British Journal of Management, Volume 10, p309-322.
- Milton, N., et al (1999). Towards a Knowledge Technology for Knowledge Management.
International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Volume 51, p615-641.
- Shadbolt, N.R., Tennison, J., Milton, N. & Howells, H. (2000). Situation Assessor
Support System: A Knowledge-Based Systems Approach to Pilot Aiding. Proceedings of the
Annual Conference of the Ergonomics Society on Temporary Ergonomics - July 2000.
- Schreiber. A. Th., et al. (2000). Knowledge Engineering and Management: The
CommonKADS Methodology. Cambridge: MA: MIT Press.
- McNeese, M. & Vidulich, M. (Eds.) (2002). Cognitive Systems Engineering in
Military Aviation Environments. SOAR - April 02.
- Milton, N., Clarke, D. and Shadbolt, N. (2006). Knowledge Engineering and Psychology:
Towards a closer relationship. International Journal of
Human-Computer Studies, Volume 64(12), 1214-1229.
- Milton, N. R. (2007).
Knowledge Acquisition in Practice. London: Springer.
- Milton, N. R. (2008).
Knowledge Technologies. London: Springer.
For more information on PCPACK, please contact Nick Milton.
Last Modified: 9 December 2008