Pack Description (*.PDSC) Format

The Pack Description (*.PDSC) Format uses standard XML annotations and is defined in the schema file PACK.xsd. Software components are distributed through Software Packs. A Software Pack is a zip file containing a single Pack Description file that describes dependencies to devices, processors, tool chains, or other software components.

A descriptive text of the Software Packalong the text information for devices, components, and examples is part of each a Pack Description (*.PDSC) file. In addition, information is provided which facilitates downloading, updating, and versioning of of a Software Pack. The *.PDSC file contains also the complete version history of the Software Pack with a brief list of the most significant changes.

Filename Conventions

A Software Pack must have a unique filename which uses the following format: <vendor>.<name>.<version>.pack.


  • <vendor>: name of the supplier or vendor of the Software Pack.
  • <name>: name of the Software Pack. It is the vendor's responsibility to ensure unique package names.
  • <version>: version number of the Software Pack.
  • .pack: file extension identifying a Software Pack.
<vendor> and <name> must not contain spaces.

The Pack Description (*.PDSC) file belonging to such a Software Pack file (<vendor>.<name>.<version>.pack) is version independent and has the format: <vendor>.<name>.pdsc.


<vendor> and <name> must not contain spaces.

Example filenames for software packs:

Software Pack for CMSIS Version 4.0 released by Arm.

  • ARM.CMSIS.4.0.0.pack: filename of the Software Pack.
  • ARM.CMSIS.pdsc: filename of the Pack Description (*.PDSC) file.

Device Family Pack for STM32F4 Version 1.0.0 released by ST Microelectronics.

  • ST.STM32F4xx_DFP.1.0.0.pack: filename of the Software Pack.
  • ST.STM32F4xx.pdsc: filename of the Pack Description (*.PDSC) file.

Pack Schema

The XML schema file PACK.xsd defines the sections used in a *.PDSC file. The current PACK.xsd can be found under the ARM.CMSIS.*.Pack in the .\CMSIS\Utilities-directory.

The Pack Description (*.PDSC) Format is structured using grouping elements and contains the following top level elements:

  • <package>: describes package related information like vendor, package name, description, version. Is the root element.
  • <keywords>: lists keywords to search for packages. Can be used for search engines.
  • <releases>: lists release versions with descriptions.
  • <requirements>: lists required packs, compiler, programming language standards and their version or version range.
  • <taxonomy>: lists description elements that define component classes and component group names.
  • <apis>: describes Application Programming Interfaces (API) Specifications contained in the Software Pack.
  • <generators>: specifies the tools that have been used to generate the PDSC file.
  • <devices>: lists the devices supported by this Software Pack. It specifies the device attributes and files like flash programming algorithms, CMSIS device header files, CMSIS System View Descriptions, etc.
  • <boards>: lists the development boards supported by the Software Pack.
  • <conditions>: defines dependencies to devices, processors, components, and tools that are used within the Software Pack. It allows making components and files conditional.
  • <components>: lists the software components contained in the Software Pack.
  • <examples>: specifies example projects contained in the PACK.

Example of a *.PDSC File

This example of a *.PDSC File explains the sections, particularly how dependencies are used to identify individual files of Software Components.

Example of a *.PDSC File