The CAPE-OPEN interface specifications define an interoperability standard allowing Process Simulation environments, Unit Operation models, Physical Property systems and other simulation components from different providers to work together. The interface standards are defined in IDL files which are then compiled to Type Libraries, and the Type Libraries are referenced by the implementations of CAPE-OPEN compliant software. Initially CAPE-OPEN implementations were implemented using Microsoft COM technology but .NET implementations are also being made which raises the requirement for COM .NET interoperability, and interoperability between different .NET versions. These requirements are satisfied by providing Primary Interop Assemblies (PIA) which are .NET assemblies that provide a .NET definition of the CAPE-OPEN interfaces derived from the CAPE-OPEN Type Libraries and which provide a single, fixed set of .NET types that correspond to the CAPE-OPEN interfaces.

The Type Libraries and PIAs implement the shared definition of the standards on which all providers of CAPE-OPEN software depend. To ensure consistent installation and removal of these shared CAPE-OPEN components on a computer on which CAPE-OPEN software from different software vendors is installed, CO-LaN has developed a set of reusable installers for the CAPE-OPEN Type Libraries and associated .NET Primary Interop Assemblies (PIA). A self generated Primary Interop Assembly is not guaranteed to give you .NET / COM interoperability depending on the version of .NET Framework being used. The only way to guarantee .NET/ COM interoperabilty is for everybody to use the same PIA, i.e. the one delivered through the installers provided by CO-LaN.

The installations are intended for use by all vendors of Process Simulation Software which implements the CAPE-OPEN interoperability standards and by end-users of CAPE-OPEN-compliant software to ensure consistent installation, registration and removal of the Type Libraries and PIAs of the CAPE-OPEN specifications on an end-user’s machine.