Friday, October 13, 2006

Modeling News from the Eclipse Summit 2006

Over the last two days, I have been at the Eclipse Summit 2006 in Esslingen, Germany. I went there because I had two papers submitted to the Modeling Symposium and I also gave a talk, together with Richard Gronback, Ed Merks and Bernd Kolb on the new developments in Eclipse Modeling - of course, openArchitectureWare is a part of that :-)

It was really good to meet some of the people in the community, such as Jean Bezivin (and of course Rich and Ed) to talk through some of the new developments in the modeling world. So here's my own personal summary of these discussions.

Upcoming Projects: First of all the proposal for the Model-to-Text Transformation project is slowly coming along. It has been prepared by IBM and the oAW team. It is now through IBM's internal review and will be submitted to Eclipse real soon now. We are also working, together with Borland, on a proposal for a project to generate textual editors - there's no name yet :-)

Other Communities: We talked about the possibility of integrating various other communities better into the Eclipse Modeling world. Among them is the folks at Vanderbilt (the people around Doug Schmidt with the GME and GEMS tool suites) and the TopCased project (the tool they've built actually looks quite nice!). We'd also like to get the group around Krzysztof Czarnecki involved (who mainly work with feature modeling). Finally, there's already an integration layer between Microsoft's DSL tools and EMF.

What should EMP do? We also discussed about the potential responsibilities of the EMP project itself, that is, in addition to being an "umbrella" for the various subprojects. We thought that they should mainly be working on improving usability (more docs, cook books, tool integration), make sure that the proverbial wheel isn't reinvented over and over again, and trigger necessary changes to base technology (such as EMF). Also, from a more technical perspective, they should provide a framework for subprojects to plugin their tools, i.e. a kind of "workflow component model" for the runtime of a generator and a development time" repository that manages models and edit-time references between them.

Challenges and Issues: We also identified a couple of issues that need to be addressed in the future. Here's a subset: better support for creating "large" EMF Models (Browsers, Editors), MVC for models (several views on the same model, all up-to-date) and resource management, model diffs and Merge
usability (complexity, tutorials, accessibility, tool consistency), as well as collaborative Modeling Support.

All in all, I think - as usual - the most important aspect of such an Event is to meet the people and build personal relationships. The "workshop" itself is not that important. This is why I suggested to run the next meeting of the Eclipse Modeling folks in the form of a hiking trip in the alps (or somewhere). You can have many deep discussions while you're out there in nature - maybe more so than in a "workshop" setting. Let's see :-)


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