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Applications of Graph Transformation in Tools for Domain-Specific Modeling Languages

Torbjörn Lundkvist, Applications of Graph Transformation in Tools for Domain-Specific Modeling Languages. Åbo Akademi University , 2011.


The use of domain-specific languages (DSLs) has been proposed as an approach to cost-effectively develop families of software systems in a restricted application do- main. Domain-specific languages in combination with the accumulated knowledge and experience of previous implementations, can in turn be used to generate new applications with unique sets of requirements. For this reason, DSLs are considered to be an important approach for software reuse.

However, the toolset supporting a particular domain-specific language is also domain-specific and is per definition not reusable. Therefore, creating and maintai- ning a DSL requires additional resources that could be even larger than the savings associated with using them.
As a solution, different tool frameworks have been proposed to simplify and reduce the cost of developments of DSLs. Developers of tool support for DSLs need to instantiate, customize or configure the framework for a particular DSL. There are different approaches for this. An approach is to use an application pro- gramming interface (API) and to extend the basic framework using an imperative programming language. An example of a tools which is based on this approach is Eclipse GEF. Another approach is to configure the framework using declarative languages that are independent of the underlying framework implementation. We believe this second approach can bring important benefits as this brings focus to specifying what should the tool be like instead of writing a program specifying how the tool achieves this functionality.

In this thesis we explore this second approach. We use graph transformation as the basic approach to customize a domain-specific modeling (DSM) tool framework. The contributions of this thesis includes a comparison of different approaches for defining, representing and interchanging software modeling languages and models and a tool architecture for an open domain-specific modeling framework that efficiently integrates several model transformation components and visual editors. We also present several specific algorithms and tool components for DSM framework. These include an approach for graph query based on region operators and the star operator and an approach for reconciling models and diagrams after executing model transformation programs.

We exemplify our approach with two case studies MICAS and EFCO. In these studies we show how our experimental modeling tool framework has been used to define tool environments for domain-specific languages.

BibTeX entry:

  title = {Applications of Graph Transformation in Tools for Domain-Specific Modeling Languages},
  author = {Lundkvist, Torbjörn},
  school = {Åbo Akademi University },
  year = {2011},
  keywords = {Domain-Specific Modeling Languages, Graph Transformations, Software Design, Software Engineering},
  ISBN = {978-952-12-2601-4},

Belongs to TUCS Research Unit(s): Software Engineering Laboratory (SE Lab)

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