The NIST EXPRESS toolkit is a software library for building EXPRESS-related tools. EXPRESS is an ISO language for describing information models. EXPRESS descriptions are neutral to different data storage paradigms and systems on different hardware platforms and networks.

This paper describes the design and implementation of the toolkit including its important interfaces, data structures, and algorithms. This paper is recommended for anyone wishing to modify the toolkit or anyone wishing to build their own EXPRESS implementation. The reader is assumed to be familiar with the EXPRESS language, the basics of traditional language implementations, and C — the language with which the toolkit is implemented.

As a testbed against which to benchmark the evolving EXPRESS language, conformance to the standard (currently Draft International Standard) is the highest priority in the toolkit. Nonetheless, time/space efficiency, accurate and helpful diagnostics, and ease-of-use are also critical to the success of the toolkit. The paper describes how these concerns are addressed even though EXPRESS is a complex and sophisticated language.

The toolkit is available from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The toolkit is just one of a number of tools for data management in STEP, a family of ISO standards currently in development. All of the NIST tools, including the NIST EXPRESS toolkit, are in the public domain.

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