A history of Metamodeling

In 2010 I was happy to welcome Sridhar Yyengar to give a seminar in Nantes with the following title: A (Meta)modeling Odyssey : Future of modeling, metamodeling, tools integration and the semantic web. The abstract is below (1).

Sridhar Yyengar leads the technical strategy group for Software Tools & Methods at the IBM TJ Watson Research Centre and led the definition of OMG MOF and XMI standards, among many other contributions as member of the OMG Board of Directors. Sridhar has been very influential in developing the MOF vision at OMG (Meta Object Facility).

But what we need now is something much broader that the strict MOF historical vision to understand the pertinence of these reflective languages to describe metamodels, their deep goal, structure, usage, rationale and evolution. We need to revisit these metamodel description DSLs and to look carefully at their positioning towards other DSLs and GPLs.

In January 2012 I was giving a course at the National Institute of Informatics in Tokyo and I started looking at the history of these metamodel description languages. I will try to write down some of my notes on this blog in the future. In the meantime, I will be happy to exchange and discuss on this blog  or on Twitter or Google+ with anyone interested in the history of MOF-like languages.


(1) Abstract: The past 15 years have seen some very interesting advances in the world of modeling, metamodeling and their use in developing tools and middleware across the complete application lifecycle. Industry modeling standards from OMG and web infrastructure standards like XML, WSDL and more recently semantic web standards like RDF and OWL have made their way into tools that cover the entire application lifecycle for both custom developed as well as packaged application implementations. As we start a new decade what can we expect in the next 10 years? This presentation will summarize the historical journey, take a snapshot of where the industry and related standards are as we begin the new decade. We will have a look at how we expect the world of the internet and semantic web will shape modeling, metamodeling and tools integration over the next decade. We will look at how emerging collaborative application lifecycle platforms like Jazz (www.jazz.net) and emerging standards like SMOF (Semantic MOF) and future versions of UML and BPMN are evolving to address the challenges of the new decade.

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4 Responses to A history of Metamodeling

  1. Keith Duddy says:

    Hi Jean,

    I’m also doing a bit of digging to see what previous conceptual modelling approaches may have solved some of the problems and requirements that I have these days in my EMF & Web Services based modelling tools. I came across this great paper from 1984, which had an extension to ER that covered all of the main MOF concepts, and the metametamodel they show in the paper looks so familiar: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpls/abs_all.jsp?arnumber=5010294

    I’m trying to offer role-based views onto models that come from standards, in which the metamodels are always monolithic – these guys had views as the beginning of the analysis process, and then merged them into a monolithic model (which was then mapped to relational tables).


    • jbezivin says:

      Hi Keith,

      Nice to hear from you. I believe the time has come to look at all the tentatives on metamodeling done in the past 30 years. We should study from the successes as much as on the failures.

      Even if ECORE looks presently successful, I don’t believe it represents a solid foundation for the future. On the other side, the OMG does not seem to be much looking beyond UML profiles and this is not very exciting.

      Is is so bad an organization like DSTC does not exist anymore since it could have been the perfect place to organize such a broad discussion.

  2. Keith Duddy says:

    P.S. Good to see Sridhar is still around. I haven’t heard from him for ages (since he left Unisys).

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