Model Transformation by Example

This work has been finished in May 2008.

Model-Driven Engineering (MDE) is getting more and more attention as a viable alternative to the traditional code-centric software development paradigm. With its progress, several model transformation approaches and languages have been developed in the past years. Most of these approaches are metamodel-based and, therefore, require knowledge of the abstract syntax of the modeling languages, which in contrast is not necessary for defining domain models using the concrete syntax of the respective languages.

Based on the by-example paradigm, we propose Model Transformation By-Example (MTBE), to cope with shortcomings of current model transformation approaches. Our approach allows the user to define semantic correspondences between concrete syntax elements with the help of special mapping operators. This is more user-friendly than directly specifying model transformation rules and mappings on the metamodel level. In general, the user’s knowledge about the notation of the modeling language and the meaning of mapping operators is sufficient for the definition of model transformations. The definition of mapping operators is subject to extension, which has been applied for the definition of mapping operators for the structural and the behavioral modeling domain. However, to keep things transparent and user-friendly, only a minimal set of mapping operators has been implemented. To compensate for the additional expressiveness inherent in common model transformation languages we apply reasoning algorithms on the models represented in concrete as well as in abstract syntax and on the metamodels generating adequate transformation code.

In order to fulfill the requirements for a user-friendly application of MTBE, proper tool support and methods to guide the mapping and model transformation generation tasks are a must. Hence, a framework for MTBE was designed that builds on state-of-the-art MDE tools on the Eclipse platform, such as the Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF), the Graphical Modeling Framework (GMF), the Atlas Transformation Language (ATL), and the Atlas Model Weaver (AMW). The decision to base our implementation on top of Eclipse and further Eclipse projects was driven by the fact, that there is a huge community we can address with our MTBE plug-in.

Finally, we evaluate our approach by means of two case studies covering the structural as well as behavioral modeling language domain.


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