A process specification language is being developed for virtual manufacturing that provides a structured portable definition of a given manufacturing process as well as the ability to specify the temporal relationships between individual operation steps that compose a process. Based on the concepts embodied in markup languages such as HTML, SGML and XML, a portable process definition structure is defined. This structure provides a template from which virtual process specifications can be created. Subsequently, these structures can be exchanged between development environments for virtual process engineering and the actualized manufacturing facilities where processes are implemented. In addition, dependencies in time between the operation steps of a process such as common start times and operation serialization can be represented to allow for a complete specification of temporal behavior of a given manufacturing process. By providing this explicit mechanism for representing temporal constraints, a virtual manufacturing process can be viewed and utilized both in a localized application on a single virtual factory floor as well as distributed across multiple, interlinked virtual environments.