Collaborative Modeling : The New Deal
These last five years have seen the generalization of model usage, as their adequation to the design of complex systems began to be more and more understood, and researched. Modeling using specifically tailored models is now common practice. Modeling tools, especially in Eclipse, matured a lot and they are fit for a lot of different contexts and requirements; from the French unemployment office to the NASA. This rising success is not complete yet though, and collaborative modeling is barely taking off, holding back wider adoption.
Let's go back all the way to 2006. At that time, during the Eclipse Summit Europe conference, the community at large voices its concerns : there is no available open-source component aiming at comparing and merging models; while such a tool is critical to the success of all modeling-related technologies. Models were becoming more and more central in the development process, their importance rising to the level of the source code's... and yet there was no tool designed to allow teams to work on models collaboratively. It is in light of this observation that we decided to start the EMF Compare project.
The challenges were then to be able to compare any kind of model, be it specific or based on a standard, with a good scalability and accuracy of the matching algorithms; and have this comparison integrated with the many different version control management systems available. At that time, there was but a few commercial tools barely starting to provide basic support for collaborative work on models; and the community recognized our commitment in providing a reliable open-source stack.
Five years later, both technologies and practices have dramatically evolved. What seemed obvious in 2006 turned out to be but one option among many others, and as time went by we have seen that the original challenges only were a subset of what we were really going to face.
This talk will start with the story, from the perspective of an Eclipse commiter and Obeo insider, of what happened during those five past years : how practices and requirements evolved, how our component adapted to these changes and has been used in practice, how we tackled collaborative modeling needs together with our adopters...
I will then move on to what is going on right now from the Eclipse side; focusing on how EMF Compare, along with -among others- Mylyn and CDO, are playing a major role in settling the basis of a sound modeling platform supporting collaboration.
Cedric Brun (Obeo) leads the Modeling Amalgamation and EMF Compare components, is commiter on several Eclipse Modeling projects (Acceleo), and his both member of the Eclipse Architecture and Planning Councils. As a product architect at Obeo he is technical lead of Obeo Designer and works on software evolution, re-engineering and cartography of legacy systems; all through model driven processes. He has graduated both the Polytech engineering school and a research Master at the University of Nantes and specialized himself in software engineering and model driven engineering. Prior to his current jobs he has been an active contributor to open source and worked in Guangzhou on a global video conference solution for the Chinese Education and Research Network (CERNET).