I am amazed by the rapid disappearance of many references to important technical contributions. It is normal life that new proposals appear and that old proposals disappear. But I find annoying that direct Web references vanishes so quickly. It is sad because some of these proposals were not bad or low quality, they just did not meet their public at the time for reasons that were often more political than technical. It is a problem because so many people now believe that something that is not on the Web does not exist and has never existed.
I started doing some research on pre-MOF metamodeling techniques and my first idea was to look at a very interesting Web site that was built a long time ago by my friend Johannes Ernst. This site was simply “http://www.metamodel.com“. But unfortunately this site appears to have completely disappeared and the Web pointer now redirects to Adaptive, the company of another good friend Pete Rivett.
Fortunately some people have saved small parts of this initial site, for example I managed to find track of the discussion What is metamodeling, and what is it good for? on another site: infogrid.org.
This made me realize that we lost most memories of an important metamodeling initiative called CDIF. This was a real achievement in metamodeling. Paraphrasing Tony Hoare, we can say that CDIF was an improvement on most of its successors, including the multiple variants of MOF and also ECORE. It is a pity that the memory of CDIF is disappearing so quickly because there are many lessons that we can still draw today from this interesting proposal.
Fortunately we can still find some interesting archives like the paper by Oscar Nierstrasz and his colleagues on the use of CDIF for reengineering Tools. This paper was published in 1998. Is that so old that we should completely forget about this technology?
I am convinced that MOF and UML have not done so well as to justify that we should delete all references to previous modeling proposals. On the contrary I believe that we can still find a lot of inspiration in older technologies. As we say in french, “C‘est dans les vieux pots que l’on fait la meilleure soupe” (experience always wins the day).
Does someone have a list of pointers on CDIF or better has saved some part of this very valuable technology heritage?
My main reference is still the paper by Rony Flatscher: “An Overview of the Architecture of EIA’s CASE Data Interchange Format (CDIF)“. I know that Rony also published a book on CDIF, but I understand it was in German and was not translated in English.