Gic Chic
Monday, August 09, 2004
Concerns Over MDA
The Software Engineering industry is in a state of turmoil, as a number of practitioners attempt to insert (or, in some cases, exert) their perspectives on proper practices on the industry. The individual development processes are not that big an issue, in my book-- each and every one supports the needs of a wide variety of projects, and should be considered in that light. For now, I choose to focus on the Unified Process, because it seems to solve the problems I encounter most efficiently.

What does interest me is variant perspectives on the specification of the problems faced in our industry. Specifically, this post will discuss the seemingly challenging relationship between two of these perspectives: MDSOC and MDA.

I have written before about some of the issues I have with MDA, and my preferred perspective of ADM. I have also lightly touched on MDSOC, and the value it brings to certain viewpoints. Now I will make the kind of bold and brazen statements that I so enjoy: MDSOC and MDA are incompatible in their current incarnations, and MDSOC is right.

MDA, as implemented today, most often involves the transformation of UML models into an implementation presumed to represent both the functional and architectural concerns of the system. While on the surface this seems logical, there is a falacy lying just under the surface: UML is not capable of representing these concerns. Therefore, MDA tools regularly use the extension mechanisms of UML, such as stereotypes and profiles, to provide the additional information necessary for the generation mechanism.

The problem with this approach is that there is no standardization around the nature of these extensions. So, while achieving "standards compliance", these tools also require significant knowledge of non-standard extensions to take advantage of their power.

If we are required to gain an understanding of non-standard extensions in order to realize the advantages of MDA, then why not expand our capabilities to additional disciplines, improving their productivity and quality as well? This is the promise of MDSOC. Of course, the nature of these extensions is a different problem all together, and one I am most interested in exploring further.

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