Domain Specific Modeling Support for ArCon
Abstract: One important phase in software development process is to create a design model of the system which follows all the architectural rules. Often the architectural rules are defined by the system architect and the system model is designed by the system designer. The architect defines the rules in a text file where no standard or pattern is followed. Therefore, there is always the risk of violating the architectural rules by the designer. So manual reviews on the system model should be done by the architect to ensure the system model is valid.In order to remove this manual checking which can be erroneous and time consuming ArCon (Architecture Conformance Checker) was developed by Combitech AB. ArCon is a tool which lets the architect define the architectural rules in the format of UML (Unified Modeling Language) models where the elements of the model have different meaning than the standard UML. ArCon can read this model and extract architectural rules from it and check the system model against those rules and then print all the rule violations.ArCon is an open source tool i.e. free for everyone to download and use. Currently, it supports Papyrus as the UML modeling tool. Papyrus is integrated to Eclipse platform and is a general purpose modeling tool. It supports users with all types of UML diagrams and elements.The idea for this thesis work was to implement a new feature for ArCon in order to facilitate the design process for system designers. The feature should provide the system designers only those types of elements which they are permitted to add to a specific fraction of the system model. The list of permitted element types should be extracted from the architecture model where all the architectural rules are defined in advance. This new support in ArCon was named Domain Specific Modeling (DSM) support.To evaluate the effect of DSM support on the system designers performance a few test sessions, called usability tests, were performed. The participants in the test sessions were a representative sample of software designers. After analyzing the data collected from the test sessions, the pros and cons of the new support were discovered. Furthermore, a few new ideas for enhancing DSM support were generated.
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