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 CommonKADS, MOKA, 47-Steps and SPEDE.

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 click here.


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 tutorial 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 or engineers).

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 military projects.

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.

Latest Developments...

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:

  1. Ontology templates: These are special forms of knowledgebase that are used as the basis for new knowledgebases.
  2. Diagram templates: These are used to define the format of diagrams used in the Diagram Tool.
  3. Annotation templates: These are used to define the structure, style and contents of annotation pages.
  4. 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:

  1. A network application that allows knowledgebases to be stored and accessed by multiple users over a network
  2. A single user version that operates on a local PC or laptop

Click on the screenshots below to see information on each PCPACK tool.

Ladder Tool

Matrix Tool

Annotation Tool

Diagram Tool

Protocol Tool

Publisher Tool

Diagram Template Tool


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:

Specialised 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).

Academic Credentials

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.

Further Information

For more information on PCPACK, please contact Nick Milton.

Last Modified: 9 December 2008