Last update: 22nd July 2007
Some of you have probably heard there exists software for troubleshooting and locating parts for BMWs. This is true, but there exists a vast spectre of software for BMWs (and Mini's).
This article will try and make an overview of all these software packages. Separate articles will most likely be made to describe in more detail how that software works, and assist in how to install it. Because most of this software can actually be made working on your very own PC. Sorry, no software for Mac-users, but some software can be made working using emulators here as well. Mac-users are encouraged to check out Parallels or VMware, which is also available for some *nix-flavors.
DIS - Diagnostics Information System
More information to come. Runs a special edition of Sun Solaris, a Unix flavor OS. Used by BMW dealers to diagnose errors and read out or change information in all the modules in any BMW vehicle. Might be superseeded by the SSS system which runs under a special version of Windows XP.
EBA - Einbaumanleitnung
This is a collection of Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files over 4 CD-ROMs that cover all possible optional extras for all BMW vehicles from late 70s and early 80s up to current models. They are in multiple languages (German, English, French, Italian and even Swedish to name some). If you ever want to retrofit an option or figure out how it was retrofitted, this is the definate source. It is currently being made available here as a project which grows a bit slowly every day. Eventually it will be complete.
ETK - Elektronische Teile Katalog
The ETK (electronic parts catalogue) is probably the most known software among BMW owners. It makes it easy to look up parts and find partnumbers for any BMW vehicle. A feature that makes the ETK easy to use is the fact that the system can recognize your vehicle from the last 7 digits in your VIN (vehicle identification number). Entering this number into the system will make it automatically display parts for just your vehicle, and thus eliminating parts not applicable for your particular model.
The ETK comes on either a CD, a couple of CDs or DVDs depending on which version you have. Newer versions contain more models and data than previous, so BMW has started using DVDs which hold more data than CDs.
The ETK can be expanded with a BMW pricelist which can be imported into the ETK so that you can see retail prices for your parts. The pricelist is usually supplied on 2 floppies, but often distributed as one ZIP-file around 1-2 MB in size.
What also makes the ETK a very good companion for BMW owners is the fact that all parts are illustrated so it's easy to locate them, and see how they are put together. This also makes locating correct partnumbers much easier.ETK can be installed and used on any Windows system using Windows 95 or later. No special hardware is required, and no license key or dongle is needed.
There's a couple of great resource online, realoem.com and bmwfans.info has made available the ETK so that you don't need to have it installed on your computer. Check it out! Requires Internet Explorer to work properly.
GIS - Graphic Information System (pending confirmation)
This is the troubleshooting software and hardware unit that BMW uses to pull diagnostics codes out of vehicles, program units that need coding, perform measurements and much more. The software runs on SCO Unix and can be installed on a regular PC, but not under Windows unless you use a virtual machine emulator like VMware. There exists many versions and just as many installation notes. When I get the time I'll try to set this up in a VMware session a make a proper documentation of the process. Note! You will need some sort of serial port adapter and all the BMW diagnostics hardware to make use of this software. These are expensive but not impossible to come by.
KSD - Kaufmännische Service Daten
The KSD (Commercial Service Data) is an offspring of the TIS mentioned below. It's a collection of data for determining labor hours, inspection sheets and general service methods. There's also information about wheels and rims for the various models. It covers E30 and later models.
SSS - Service Station Software (pending confirmation)
Meant to be some sort of "server" station software for other client machines to work against. The SSS runs on a special version of Windows, but any Windows XP installation can be modified into this state and then make SSS run on it. Usefull for shops where they offer several diagnostics and reprogramming stations at the same time. Not necessary for a single car diagnostics setup.
TIS - Technical Information System
The TIS contains all updates and service information (SI) from BMW about all their models. If a change is made to something in the vehicle it's documented in the TIS. Recalls and sevice bulletins are also gathered here. The ETK and TIS can be made to work together in the same interface.
Important changes and fixes to consumers problems with vehicles are documented in this system. The ETK often refers to a TIS (or SI) document when you are to replace parts.
The TIS covers all hotline information bulletins from 1996, important older service information (SI) from 1986, and all newer SI bulletins from mid-95. It also has a troubleshooting table of repair instructions for vehicles from E36 and newer.
The TIS can also be installed and used on any Windows system using Windows 95 or later. No special hardware is required, and no license key or dongle is needed. The ETK is not needed to install the TIS as the TIS also has the sysadm utility required to install applications on a Windows PC.
URK - Umrüstkatalog
I'm a bit unsure about this, but the name itself makes me believe this is a catalog of optional extra equipment for vehicles. May also contain the actual instructions for retrofitting equipment, or point to documents in the EBA.
WDS - Wiring Data and Schematics (pending confirmation)
This software contains detailed wiring, and search in wiring diagrams for all models produced after and including the E36. The software is multi lingual and is available on DVD. However, there exists versions which fit on a single CD and contain just one or two languages, usually English. A very neat and good resource for electrical troubleshooting and wire tracing.
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