SPLASH 2010 Workshop on Flexible Modeling Tools
Monday, October 18, 2010, Reno Nevada, USA
Submission deadline extended to August 13, 2010
Call for Papers and Demonstrations
Most activities during the software lifecycle involve producing and manipulating representations of information. These range from domain analysis (such as business analysis) during the early stages of requirements engineering, through architectural and lower-level design, to coding, testing, deployment and beyond. Many of these activities, and the tools that support them, have long been of interest to the SPLASH community. The information representations are models, and hence these are modeling activities, though not typically called that in all cases. Many modeling tools exist to support modeling activities. They have a variety of advantages, such as syntax and static semantics checking, providing multiple views of models for visualization and convenience of manipulation, providing domain-specific assistance (e.g., "content assist") based on model structure, providing documentation of the modeling decisions, ensuring consistency of the models, and facilitating integration with other formal tools and processes, such as model-driven engineering (MDE) and model checking.
Despite these advantages, however, formal modeling tools are often not used for many of these activities. During the exploratory phases of design, it is more common to use white boards, pen and paper or other informal mechanisms. Free-form diagrams serve as the centerpiece of discussion and can easily evolve as discussion proceeds. During the early stages of requirements engineering, when stakeholders are being interviewed and domain understanding is being built, it is also more common to use office tools (word processors, spreadsheets and drawing/presentation tools). Free-form textual documents, tables and diagrams serve as working documents and can easily be fashioned into presentations to stakeholders that are such an important part of this activity. The documents and presentations are easy to share with stakeholders. Users are also not forced to commit too early to specific choices, and thus have freedom during highly iterative, exploratory activities.
Formal modeling tools and more informal but flexible, free-form approaches thus have complementary strengths and weaknesses. Practitioners throughout the software lifecycle must currently choose between them for each specific task. Whichever they choose, they lose the advantages of the other, with attendant frustration, loss of productivity, traceability, or even quality.
What can be done about this unfortunate dichotomy? Tools that blend the advantages of modeling tools and the more free-form approaches offer the prospect of allowing users to make tradeoffs between flexibility and precision/formality and to move smoothly between them. We refer to these as flexible modeling tools . They might be modeling tools with added flexibility, or office tools with added modeling support, or tools of a new kind. Some work has already been done in this area, much of it quite recently, for example: software design sketching tools, modeling tools that allow free-form annotation and tagging, and tools that support progression from unstructured text or diagrams to more formal representations. Successful workshops at CASCON 2009 and ICSE 2010 showed that there is considerable and diverse interest in this area. These workshops in particular began to lay the groundwork for understanding the problem, and provided some hints at possible solutions (position papers from these workshops are downloadable from the workshop web sites). But many more discussions are needed to understand how to design flexible modeling tools.
This workshop will bring together researchers from the SPLASH community who understand tool users' needs, usability, user interface design and tool infrastructure to explore these questions. The concrete goals of this workshop are to explore in depth the current dichotomy and its implications for users, leading to a list of key issues, and to discuss obstacles to flexible modeling and means to overcome them, leading to a new research agenda in flexible modeling tools.
Prospective participants are invited to submit 2-4 page position papers on any topic relevant to the dichotomy between modeling tools and more free-form tools. In particular, papers analyzing specific problems with existing tools, detailing requirements for flexible modeling tools, analyzing the usability tradeoffs involved in flexible modeling, describing approaches for architecting and building flexible modeling tools, and actual examples of such tools are all appropriate.
Alternatively, prospective participants can submit a 2-4 page description of a live demonstration they would present of a working prototype of a flexible modeling tool. The description should indicate which essential capabilities of the tool would be the focus of the demonstration.
Submissions must conform to the ACM SIGPLAN Proceedings Format and must be submitted through Easy Chair by the submission deadline noted below. Submissions will be judged based on novelty, insightfulness, quality, relevance to the workshop, and potential to spark discussion. Accepted submissions will be posted on the workshop website.
The workshop will consist of a few, brief presentations from a subset of the accepted position papers and demonstrations. Each presentation will be accompanied by considerable discussion. To fuel this discussion, all participants will be asked to prepare:
- Two problems they have experienced with existing modeling tools, or two tasks or situations for which modeling tools would be helpful but are not used typically used; and
- Two features/differences in behavior or ideas for radical new tools they would really like to see.
In addition, there will be an area where all accepted papers and demonstrations can be displayed as posters, to be viewed by all participants throughout the day.
Finally, all participants are encouraged to bring working prototypes of tools along with them. If there is sufficient interest, a SPLASH BOF will be organized to provide an opportunity to discuss and showcase tools and some of the workshop results in greater depth.
|Notification of acceptance:||Friday September 3, 2010|
|Early Registration:||Mid-September, 2010|
|Workshop:||Monday October 18, 2010|
SubmissionThe submission URL is: http://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=flexitools2010
- Doug Kimelman, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, USA
- Harold Ossher, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, USA
- André van der Hoek, University of California, Irvine, USA
- Margaret-Anne Storey, University of Victoria, Canada