Calculation and Propagation of Model Changes
Based on User-Level Edit Operations;
U.Siegen, UB, URN:
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Abstract: Model-driven engineering (MDE) has become a widespread approach for
developing software in many application domains. Models are primary
development documents in MDE and subject to continuous
evolution. Models therefore have many versions and variants
during system lifetime.
Thus, the specification and recognition of changes in models is
the key to understand and manage the evolution of a model-based
However, currently available model versioning tools operate on
low-level, sometimes tool-specific model representations which
can be considered as an implementation of the abstract syntax
graph (ASG) of a model.
Moreover, primitive graph edit operations are used to specify
This leads to two serious problems:
Firstly, the resulting model differences are hard to understand
for normal tool users who are not familiar with the internal,
graph-based representation of models and the related types of
nodes and edges which are usually defined by a meta-model.
Secondly, generic graph operations lead to further problems
in change propagation scenarios since they can violate consistency
constraints in ASGs.
In the worst case, which particularly applies to all kinds of
visual models, the synthesized result can no longer be opened in
standard visual editors and must be corrected based on the serialized
data format (e.g. XML) by using
low-level textual editors, which is obviously a tedious task
prone to errors.
Model differences should therefore be based on edit operations which are
understandable for modelers and which preserve elementary consistency constraints in
the sense that models remain displayable in visual editors. Edit operations which are
offered as editing commands in standard editors or modern refactoring tools are
examples of this.
The tight integration
of editing and versioning tools requires consistent specifications of edit operations;
this integration is a largely open problem.
The main objective of this thesis is to provide a solution for this
problem and to systematically lift model versioning concepts, algorithms
and tools to a higher level of abstraction.
The central idea is to formally specify the available edit operations
for a given type of models as transformation rules using the model
transformation language Henshin which is based on graph transformation
These formal specifications are automatically transformed into recognition
rules being used by a lifting algorithm which recognizes edit operations in
a low-level difference of two model versions.
The approach has been implemented and evaluated in a framework which is
known as SiLift and which is based on the widely used Eclipse Modeling Project.