Introduction in Java

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CHAPTER 1 Introduction
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As David Frankel pointed out in Model Driven Architecture: Applying MDA to Enterprise Computing [45], a critical aspect of the success of MDSD is using a common metamodel In our case, Eclipse Modeling Framework s (EMFs) Ecore is this metamodel (or meta-metamodel, depending on your perspective) Beginning with Ecore (and leveraging the facilities of EMF for defining, editing, querying, and validating models), I describe how a Toolsmith can begin to develop a DSL Using several of the other Modeling projects, you will add diagramming, transformation, and generation capabilities to a DSL, resulting in a full-featured toolset that a Practitioner can use Throughout the book, I use the roles Toolsmith and Practitioner to distinguish between those who develop DSL tools using the Modeling project and those who use these tools in practice
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Terminology
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Before going further, it s important to understand some key terminology used in this bookThe structure of a DSL is captured in its metamodel, commonly referred to as its abstract syntax A metamodel is just a model that provides the basis for constructing another model Although both are models, one is expressed in terms of the other; in other words, one model is an instance of or conforms to the other In this book, a DSL s abstract syntax is defined using EMF s Ecore model, which is, therefore, its metamodel and the model used to define all DSLs in this book A model created in terms of our DSL s abstract syntax is commonly referred to as an instance model; the DSL is then the metamodel, which makes Ecore the metametamodelThe Ecore model is expressed in terms of itself, but this book doesn t give this a name or assign an absolute numbering scheme to the levels, as the Object Management Group (OMG) does For our purposes, you can simply think of Ecore as the metamodel that a Toolsmith uses to define a DSL s abstract syntax, leaving the Practitioner to create instance models of the DSL The term abstract syntax refers to a metamodel, so it often has a corresponding concrete syntax in the form of text or diagram notation These are referred to as textual concrete syntax and graphical concrete syntax, respectively A textual syntax enables users to work with instance models just as they would other text-based programming languages A graphical syntax enables users to work with instance models using a diagram surface; the most popular is the UML Abstract syntaxes are defined using Ecore models, which themselves are persisted in XMI format this could technically be considered a concrete syntax, although it s sometimes called a serialization syntax
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12 Domain-Specific Languages
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After defining the DSL s abstract syntax in terms of Ecore, we can leverage a variety of the Modeling project s capabilities that are designed to work with Ecore models Nearly everything involved in developing a DSL Toolkit revolves around EMF s capabilities, including diagram definitions, transformation definitions, code-generation templates, model serialization and persistence, and more In addition, many of these capabilities are developed using EMF models For example, Graphical Modeling Framework (GMF) uses a collection of EMF models (DSLs themselves) in generating domain-specific modeling surfaces QVT s abstract and concrete syntax are defined with EMF models, and so on Before going deeper into the individual projects you ll leverage within the context of this book, let s take a step back and look at domain-specific languages and the Eclipse Modeling Project as a whole
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12 Domain-Specific Languages
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A DSL is a language designed to be useful for a specific set of tasks Much has been written on the general topic of DSLs, with the domain-specific aspect being the most controversial and reminiscent of discussions regarding meta-ness Just as metamodel is a relative term to describe a model that is used as the basis for another model, the term domain-specific is used in a relative sense Domain specificity is determined by the designer of the language in our case, the Toolsmith For example, you might consider the UML to be a general-purpose language that consists of several domain-specific languages for state machines, structural definition, use cases, and so on Others might consider all of UML to be a domain-specific language covering the domain of software development However you look at it, UML is a modeling language that, in the sphere of MDSD, is used to generate source code in the form of a general-purpose programming language General-to-general mappings typically don t work well, so additional specificity is typically applied at one end or both ends A common approach is to make the modeling language more specific and target a stable framework, as in the case of using a UML Profile for developing Java EE applications An alternative is to start small, creating your own domain-specific language that includes just what you need
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