Eating the world through DSML

I borrowed this blog entry title from an interesting post in the January 2016 Eclipse Newsletter titled “How to Eat the World with DSLs.”

In that article, the author makes many good point about DSL, such as creating a language with which the users are already familiar and abstracting the more complex aspects of coding (a payroll system implemented in Excel sheet in this case) to facilitate the domain expert’s job.

The same approach can be used when dealing with the complexity of modeling. UML is known to be rather complex, but a using a DSML to represent your domain will simplify the work of your developers. Ericsson presented a good example of this at EclipseCon Europe 2014: “UML or DSML? You can now have both with Papyrus 1.0!

An advantage of using a UML-based DSML, at least in the Systems Domain, is that existing analysis tools can be used on the underlying UML model to do common functions, e.g. traceability. Using UML as the base for your DSML also allows you reuse parts of the UML that would make sense in your domain (e.g., sequence diagrams are already available for free). For other aspects, such as collaborative modeling, you would still need to do some toolsmith work to be able to present the results in the context of your DSML instead of UML. Domain experts should not have to understand the underlying implementation and must be kept at their level of abstraction!

The capability to author DSMLs is already available within Papyrus and will continue to evolve and improve as part of the newly created Papyrus Industry Consortium.

And even if you do not feel like you need to base your DSML on UML, there are other Eclipse offerings, such as Xtext (mentioned in the article referenced above, textual DSL) and Eclipse Sirius (graphical DSML based on its own metamodel).

Within Eclipse PapyrusRT, we already use Papyrus’ DSML capabilities to implement the graphical UML-RT modeling language. We are now investigating combining this with an Xtext-based representation of UML-RT to blur the line between graphics and text. Our take is that you should not limit yourselves to only textual or graphical representation – some things are easier in one or the other and, sometimes, a mix of both can be better!

With a good infrastructure to support it, DSMLs are the modeling approach of the future and is available now. You should take a closer look!

IBM Fire Sale?

In a recent conversation, a friend pointed out that IBM® has been selling (sorry, “divesting”) some of their products to UNICOM® recently. So I had a quick look and found the following:

OK…The “fire sale” title may be a bit strong, but some of these products were already not getting all the love they deserve from IBM, so this may be a good thing (for IBM, maybe less for the users).

Given the history UNICOM® has with IBM products, many of these should not be a surprise and I hope my Cognos friends are in a better position to move them forward.

I will admit that having worked in Rational, I’m a bit sad about seeing some of the tools change hands. I remember System Architect from the Popkin days (way before I was part of IBM) as one of the first commercial modeling tools I’ve used. I’ve worked a lot with PurifyPlus in the past both prior to and at IBM and, though it is rather old, it was a very good tool.  And as a product manager at IBM, I enjoyed using Focal Point (which came over with the Telelogic acquisition). I do hope that they have found a good home an that the development teams have been well taken care of.

On the other hand, such acquisitions do offer the potential for competition to get in there, as Corso seems to be doing for System Architect. Do check these guys out – Corso is run by really good guys who are undeniable experts in their field! And no, I am not getting a cut…

This also begs the question as to whether other Rational tools could be divested. I can certainly see that the tools directly related to cloud or IOT, such as Rhapsody, are probably safe, being well aligned with the direction IBM seems to be taking. But some of the other modelling tools might be considered if that business worsen, especially given that very decent lower cost and, especially, open source alternatives exist that are backed by industry (OK, I will admit to having an interest in that one…).

And maybe IBM will repeat their Eclipse experiment and contribute some of these tools to open source…

One can only hope, but the future will continue to be interesting.


[2016.01.13] Update: Check out Gartner’s analysis of the Rational System Architect acquisition by UNICOM®!

A Trip through Europe

A few weeks ago, I took a two and a half week business trip through Europe. That is long to be away from the family…

How that trip came about to be so long is interesting… First, I was supposed to attend and present at EclipseCon Europe. Well, that happened and it was a great week: I presented  “Papyrus for RealTime – Executable Modeling on Eclipse” (which was my best audience thus far at EclipseCons, both in terms of size and quality of questions), I was part of the “Papyrus Industry Consortium” launch, I attended various sessions inclusing the Papyrus Summit, and I took part in the PolarSys Steering Committee (where I volunteered to help with the marketing committee – close enough to product management…). I also had a great one-on-one meetings with the eTrice people, which I am sure will lead to great collaboaration for Papyrus-RT. Overall, a very productive week.

But to get back to how the trip got so long… Since I was in Europe, I decided to visit a company that had expressed an interest in Papyrus for Real Time, and to do that meant that I needed to add three days at the beginning of the trip. Although that company is not yet in a position to adopt Papyrus-RT, they are very interested in the work we are doing. I’m hoping they will be able to either join, or be invited into, the Papyrus Industry Consortium.

So that 1.5 weeks… The last week was added because the Ericsson Modeling Days had been (re)scheduled to immediately follow EclipseCon Europe – another week spent in Stockholm where I did a demo of Papyrus-RT to the attendees. Another week of great discussions amongs modeling enthusiasts.

Since I was in Stockholm, I did manage to have a nice dinner with my Swedish friends (I have to go back in the summer…)!

And then, there was the Lufthansa strike…

Ah! The joys of business travels!

 

PolarSys and the INCOSE Symposium 2015

Readers of this blog will be aware that I was present at the INCOSE Symposium 2015, held in Bellevue (Seattle), WA.

I would like to point out that there is now an entry on PolarSys blog about the “Growing interest in PolarSys at the INCOSE Symposium

I must say it was a great experience and I truly enjoyed talking Papyrus (both SysML and “Real Time”) with the visitors at the PolarSys booth. It was also great to meet former colleagues.

One of the goals for INCOSE is to promote model-based systems engineering, and I was impressed by the level of interest and the quality of questions from the visitors. This indicates that the INCOSE’s goal is certainly taken to heart! I have been a member of INCOSE for many year, but I look forward to getting more involved (I joined a couple of working groups while at the symposium). There is an INCOSE Canada conference in Ottawa coming up – I’ll be there (and you can register here)!

(And for those who are wondering, I’m fourth from the left in the booth staff picture…)