A Model Engineering Approach to Tool Interoperability

Keywords Model Engineering Tool Interoperability Model Transformation Domain-Specific Languages AMMA
Standards groups

In tool interoperability, different standards and formats make software
interoperability a challenge [2]. There are several existing approaches that can be adopted to overcome the limitations of tool interoperability. For example, a general approach that is based on traditional parsing and interpreting activities can be implemented with general-purpose programming languages. As a second example, XML-based interoperability has emerged as a popular choice for a generic exchange format between software tools.

However, although this works relatively well when all considered tools use some form of XML, this kind of solution is not as convenient in other contexts (e.g., when context-free parsing of the storage format is necessary). A third approach to interoperability is based on model transformation and is the focus of this paper: the different formats are captured as abstract definitions of data
structures (i.e., metamodels), and transformation rules map from one representation to another. The AtlanMod Model Management Architecture (AMMA) [8] is a model engineering framework that may be used to build bridges between tools or Domain-Specific Languages (DSLs). Each tool or DSL is captured and represented as a coordinated set of models.

The work described in this tool demonstration summary uses three of the main capabilities of AMMA: metamodeling with the Kernel MetaMetaModel (KM3) [4], model transformation with the AtlanMod Transformation Language (ATL) [6], and projections to (i.e., extraction) and from (i.e., injection) other technologies (e.g., grammars, XML). Projections are especially useful in the context of model-driven tool interoperability because each tool typically uses a specific file format. Notably, AMMA provides the Textual Concrete Syntax (TCS) [5] tool to deal with context-free syntax. Although our specific tool demonstration is focused on using AMMA as a solution strategy, we believe that the general concept can be used with most modeling and language engineering tools.

The next section presents a case study that demonstrates
how software language engineering (specifically model engineering and model
transformation) can be used to assist in the sharing of results and data across tools from the same domain. A concluding section summarizes the paper by presenting lessons learned and pointing toward future work.

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The integration of various tools is a common requirement
throughout the software development process. It is often desirable to consult several tools that perform similar functionalities in the same domain to obtain different perspectives and results to assist design and maintenance decisions. In many cases, tool interoperability requires the generalization of tool-specific data, which necessitates homogenizing the data such that intellectual assets can be shared through a common framework (e.g., the integration of results from various clone detection tools).

This tool demonstration summary presents a software language engineering solution technique that uses Model-Driven
Engineering to address tool interoperability. A specific focus of the paper is a demonstration of model transformation applied to the task of homogenizing different data formats among similar tools. The challenges of tool integration are discussed in the paper, along with a detailed case study that highlights the benefits of applying a model transformation solution to tool interoperability.

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