IMS Common Cartridge® Specification

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What is Common Cartridge?

Common Cartridge is the first of three major standards that comprise a new generation of Digital Learning Services standards to support a new generation of learning technology. These are: 

  • Organized and distributed digital learning content (Common Cartridge® - CC®)
  • Applications, systems, and mash-ups (Learning Tools Interoperability® - LTI®)
  • Learner information: privileges and outcomes (Learning Information Services – LIS)


Common Cartridge Benefits


  • Greater choice of content: Enables collections of learning resources of various types and sources.
  • Reduces vendor/platform lock-in: Establishes course cartridge native formats endorsed by educational publishers, and supports a wide variety of established content formats, eliminating platform lock-in.
  • Greater assessment options: Explicitly supports the most widely used standards for exchanging and tracking assessment items (IMS QTI®) providing a standard scoring and tracking alternative that does not require the complexity or overhead of a CBT-like runtime interaction. 
  • Increases flexibility, sharing and reuse: Fits within the educational context of enabling instructors to assemble lesson plans of various resources and publish those as reusable and changeable packages that are easy to create, share, and improve.
  • Supports flexible packaging via URL references to web content: Based on an application profile of IMS Content Packaging v1.2, Common Cartridge manifests support "virtual content" organizations through URL references, thus reducing the size of cartridges while increasing flexibility.
  • Supports collaboration and web 2.0 mash-ups (via future provisioning of IMS LTI®): Includes exchange standard for online discussion forums and has been designed to allow future incorporation of IMS Learning Tools Interoperability to enable web service launch and data exchange of distributing learning applications and systems from within Common Cartridges.
  • Supports content authorization via protected resources: Cartridges or portions of cartridges can be protected through a standard open authorization protocol.
  • Allows straightforward migration from SCORM 2004: Common Cartridge and SCORM 2004 are both based on IMS Content Packaging allowing use of tools to convert from SCORM to the advantages of Common Cartridge.
  • Backed by a vibrant community providing tools for implementation and conformance: The Common Cartridge & Learning Tools Interoperability Alliance provides open source and community source tools for automated conformance testing of cartridges, testing of learning platforms, a reference implementation of the authorization service, future incorporation of LTI, and much more.


The standard may be downloaded below. It includes at its root a readme.txt file which identifies the documents in the package and their locations. See a list of Common Cartridge Frequently Asked Questions.

Common Cartridge Demonstration Video - Video showing CC creation from SoftChalk authoring tool and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publisher content playing in ANGEL and Blackboard.


IMS Global Thin Common Cartridge® Profile: Implementation Guide (for CC v1.2 & v1.3)

(replaces Thin CC v1.3)

IMS has released the Thin Common Cartridge Profile Implementation Guide for CC v1.2 and V1.2 Final Specification in May 2015. The Thin CC profile is a greatly reduced subset of the Full Common Cartridge Specification versions v1.2 and v1.3 and as such is simpler for developers to implement. Thin CC® only contains:



Version 1.3 - Final Specification

IMS has released the Common Cartridge version 1.3 Final Specification in July 2013. The changes in the revised version updates include: