Re: Where are we at? Where to from here?

Re: Where are we at? Where to from here?

From: Steffen Zschaler <>
Date: Mon, 15 May 2006 09:27:31 +0200
Message-ID: <>
Dear pUMLeers, Dear Jrn,

Thanks for pointing everybody to the OCL Portal. However, the 'official' 
link is . This will currently redirect 
you to the URL you mentioned, but things will change rather soon, so 
that only the official link will still work.

Best regards,


Jrn Guy S wrote:
> Precise UMLeers,
> In response to Greg's original post, attached you will find a small figure,
> showing statistics on the growth of UML. If we perceive the UML as a
> (software) system, we will find that its complexity has greatly increased
> over the years. This affects usability on a theoretical and practical level.
> (cmp. Papers likes
> and 
> @inproceedings{DBLP:conf/uml/MaSZJ04,
>   author    = {Haohai Ma and
>                Weizhong Shao and
>                Lu Zhang and
>                Yanbing Jiang},
>   title     = {Applying OO Metrics to Assess UML Meta-models.},
>   booktitle = {UML},
>   year      = {2004},
>   pages     = {12-26},
>   ee        =
> {{\&}issn=0302-97
> 43{\&}volume=3273{\&}spage=12},
>   crossref  = {DBLP:conf/uml/2004},
>   bibsource = {DBLP,}
> }
> )
> In other words, with a body of specification that large, consistency is
> almost impossible to achieve. Attempts for UML 1.4 were already seriously
> hampered by the size.
> In the same vein, practicability is even harder, because lack of
> specification forces implementers to interpret the standard, rather than
> adopt it. The result is not UML, but VML - Vendor Modelling Language.
> This affects the perceived value of models as assets that are independent of
> a vendor. If my core business ideas would be placed at the mercy of somebody
> else's meta-model/storage format, would I commit to such an offer, for a
> limited productive gain?
> As criticism without alternative is unproductive, I would propose to
> untangle the web in the following way.
> * Abort work on the existing UML standard 2.0. 
> * Focus work on well understood, open, and minimal systems, such as EMOF
> (the basis for IBM EMF). Start with a class-based abstraction, such as
> Object-Z (One option!)
> * Set up a research-based forum of focus, that is independent of the OMG,
> like the OCL Portal
> (
> * Build minimal metamodels of particular interest for UML's parts, describe
> their conditions of composition into a new metamodel.
> This approach could provide the following advantages/ remedy the following
> shortcomings:
> * Research impact is immediate, and the changes made to a commonly
> maintained standard are traceable. The counterexample is the current OMG
> process, were the proceedings of the workgroups cannot be observed. Only
> selected results are published at larger intervals.
> * Research is rewarding, because contributions can be ascribed to research
> institutions and individuals. In the current process, researchers may, as in
> the case of the OCL standard, contribute significantly to the work, but do
> not receive a mention in the result. As this is uneconomical for the
> researcher in the promotion of their own work, they withdraw from the
> effort, leaving it weakened.
> * Results are free. In the current situation, OMG publications are
> copyright-protected content of the same-named company. Consequently, each
> person that wants to use terms branded by the OMG or reference the products,
> has to go through a legal process. This stifles innovation. In one concrete
> case known to me, a researcher wanted to produce a public HTML version of
> the UML standard, to make it more accessible. The request was denied by the
> OMG.
> The last argument I would like to add is of a moral nature: If we do not
> provide a unifying basis to the UML and MOF, there will be no common use as
> explained above. Thus, the biggest shark is going to take the smaller fish
> in the waters of modelling tools. Microsoft has already affected a change in
> the naming of the UML conference from UML to MODELS. It will not be long
> until the UML disappears from public perception and we will have to write
> about 'Software Factories', 'DSLs' and their underlying formalisms. Quoting
> one of Microsoft's Researchers:
> "So I don't see UML as a central part of the software factory/DSL story."
> (cmp. )
> I hope that model-driven processes will not become intellectual capital of
> one institution. Digressing from the OMG-standard to avoid such a situation
> seems to be a small price to pay.
> Model on!
> Jrn Guy S
> Research Officer
> Room 350, General Purpose South Building (building 78) Division of Systems
> and Software Engineering School of Information Technology and Electrical
> Engineering The University of Queensland Queensland 4072 AUSTRALIA
> Phone: +61 7 3365 2883; Fax: +61 7 3365 4999
> email:
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf Of Greg O'Keefe
> Sent: Sunday, 14 May 2006 19:01
> To: pUML list
> Cc: Greg O'Keefe
> Subject: Where are we at? Where to from here?
> Precise UMLeers,
> I am interested to know your opinions of the state of play in making UML
> precise.
> I understand this list originated with a specific effort (MML) to give
> foundations to UML using an object calculus based on that of Abadi and
> Cardelli.  That became a bid for the UML 2 rfp, but it did not win. 
> Perhaps the main players were discouraged by this, so now the list is
> just a forum for technical questions and gripes.
> Is it still a good idea to try to make UML precise?  
> Can work outside the large IBM funded project have any influence?
> Perhaps we should look instead to a new, well defined language, or
> giving UML-like notation to an existing formalism? 
> Let's revisit the big picture!
> I look forward to reading your views,
> Greg O'Keefe

Dipl.-Inf. Steffen Zschaler
Research Assistant

Technische Universitt Dresden
Department of Computer Science

Phone +49 351 463 38555
Fax   +49 351 463 38459
Received on Mon 15 May 2006 - 08:27:29 BST