Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fifteen Years of Industrial Model-Driven Development in Software Front-ends. Find WebRatio and IFML on the Novatica Journal (in Spanish!)

Novatica, the official journal of the Spanish association of Computer Science Technicians (ATI), just published a monographic issue on "Adopción industrial de la ingeniería del software dirigida por models" (industrial adoption of model-driven software engineering practices).

Together with a set of interesting experiences mainly in the Spanish market, the issue also features an article about WebML, WebRatio and IFML, written by Stefano Butti and myself, and graciously translated to Spanish by Matteo Silva and the WebRatio team in Latin America.
The paper discusses the history behind the standard IFML, recently adopted by the Object Management Group. We show how our initial proposal called WebML has been an incubator for research and industrial exploitation on conceptual modeling, exploiting existing experiences in the field and continuously addressing new challenges concerning abstractions, methods, tools, and technologies. We summarize the essence of the approach and we show the supporting modelling tool WebRatio at work.

This journal issue is a valuable resource, especially for Spanish-speaking people, as you will be able to find a comprehensive coverage of the model-driven market in Spain, and more in general some interesting industrial experiences with model-driven approaches (all written in Spanish!).
Here below you can find the front page of our own article:

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Pattern-Based Specification of Crowdsourcing Applications - ICWE 2014 best paper

I'm really proud to announce that our paper "Pattern-Based Specification of Crowdsourcing Applications" has received the BEST PAPER award at ICWE 2014 (International Conference on Web Engineering), held in Toulouse in July 2014. The paper was authored by Alessandro Bozzon, Marco Brambilla, Stefano Ceri, Andrea Mauri, and Riccardo Volonterio.

The work addresses the fact that in many crowd-based applications, the interaction with performers is decomposed in several tasks that, collectively, produce the desired results.
A number of emerging crowd-based applications cover very different scenarios, including opinion mining, multimedia data annotation, localised information gathering, marketing campaigns, expert response gathering, and so on.
In most of these scenarios, applications can be decomposed in tasks that collectively produce their results; Tasks interactions give rise to arbitrarily complex workflows.

In this paper we propose methods and tools for designing crowd-based workflows as interacting tasks.
We describe the modelling concepts that are useful in such framework, including typical workflow patterns, whose function is to decompose a cognitively complex task into simple interacting tasks so that the complex task is co-operatively solved.
We then discuss how workflows and patterns are managed by CrowdSearcher, a system for designing, deploying and monitoring applications on top of crowd-based systems, including social networks and crowdsourcing platforms. Tasks performed by humans consist of simple operations which apply to homogeneous objects; the complexity of aggregating and interpreting task results is embodied within the framework. We show our approach at work on a validation scenario and we report quantitative findings, which highlight the effect of workflow design on the final results.

Here are the slides presented by Alessandro Bozzon during the ICWE conference:

Here is Alessandro Bozzon presenting:

and here is the picture of the actual award:

ICWE 2014 Best Paper Award Certificate to Pattern-Based Specification of Crowdsourcing Applications. Bozzon, Brambilla, Ceri, Mauri, Volonterio

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IFML - Interaction Flow Modeling Language 1.0 - My tutorial on UI and UX modeling & design at ICWE 2014

This year, ICWE - International Conference on Web Engineering, took place in Toulouse, France.

Given the upcoming adoption by the OMG - Object Management Group of IFML, I decided to give a tutorial on it there. IFML, the Interaction Flow Modeling Language (IFML) is designed for expressing content, user interaction and control behaviour of the front-end of software applications, as well as the binding to the persistence and business logic layers. IFML is the missing piece for modeling the front end of software applications and perfectly complements other modeling dimensions in broad system modeling projects. Therefore, IFML works best when integrated with other modeling languages in the MDA suite, such as UML and BPMN. This tutorial illustrates the basic concepts of IFML, presents the design best practices and integration with other modelling languages, and discusses some industrial experiences (also featuring quantitative measures of productivity) achieved by the companion tool WebRatio. At the end of the tutorial, attendees will get a general knowledge about IFML (they will be able to design simple models and to derive models from existing interfaces), will be able to associate front-end design with system modelling at large, will see the associated MDE tool WebRatio at work, and will get a glimpse of real-life industrial applications developed for large enterprises. This will let them appreciate the advantages of a model-driven development approach at work within large-scale industrial project.

Here are the slides of my tutorial:

And here are some pictures taken by some attendees:

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

CrowdServ: International Workshop on Crowdsourcing and Service Management @ ICSOC 2014

This year I am organizing the First  International Workshop on Crowdsourcing and Service Management, together with Alessandro Bozzon (TU Delft) and Khalid Belhajjame (Paris Dauphine Univ.). 

CrowdServ workshop on CrowdSourcing and Web Services at ICSOC

The objective of the first edition of CrowdServ which will be co-located withthe International Conference on Service Oriented Computing (ICSOC) at Paris Dauphine University is to bring researchers and practitioners from the service oriented computing arena to discuss two fundamental issues: 
  • how crowdsourcing can be leveraged to support the efficient and effective management and integration of services. 
  • how crowd and automatic services can be integrated and intertwined to obtain optimal results.
Topics span from modeling, to empirical studies, to early findings and visions.
This is the first attempt in the research community to cover these topics, so I expect the workshop to be an exciting opportunity of discussion and exchange.
You can find more details on deadlines and submission procedures at:
… and obviously feel free to get in touch if you like!

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Monday, April 28, 2014

ACM Computing Reviews "Notable Computing Books and Articles of 2013" - our VLDBJ special issue featured

ACM and Computing Reviews put out their list of notable books and articles of 2013.
I'm glad that our "Special issue on structured and crowd-sourced data on the Web" published in the VLDB Journal (The International Journal on Very Large Data Bases, Springer) has been selected, together with only 2 others, as a notable issue in computing in 2013.
The special issue is available on SpringerLink. The direct link to our introductory editorial with the summary of the contributions is this.

You can check out the complete 2013 list of notable items here.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Textual and Content-Based Search in Repositories of Web Application Models - TWEB paper

The paper "Textual and Content-Based Search in Repositories of Web Application Models" I co-authored together with Bojana Bislimovska, Alessandro Bozzon, and Piero Fraternali has now been published on the ACM Transactions on the Web (TWEB).

The article examines two different techniques for indexing and searching model repositories, with a focus on Web development projects encoded in the domain-specific language WebML. Keyword-based and content-based search (also known as query-by-example) are contrasted with respect to the architecture of the system, the processing of models and queries, and the way in which metamodel knowledge can be exploited to improve search. A thorough experimental evaluation is conducted to examine what parameter configurations lead to better accuracy and to offer an insight in what queries are addressed best by each system.

You can find the full text here:
You can download the full text for free even if you don't have an ACM subscription, through this link:

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Community-based Crowdsourcing - Our paper at WWW2014 SOCM

Today Andrea Mauri presented our paper "Community-based Crowdsourcing" at the SOCM Workshop co-located with the WWW 2014 conference.

SOCM is the 2nd International Workshop on the Theory and Practice of Social Machines and is an interesting venue for discussing instrumentation, tooling, and software system aspects of online social network. The full program of the event is here.

Our paper is focused on community-based crowdsourcing applications, i.e. the ability of spawning crowdsourcing tasks upon multiple communities of performers, thus leveraging the peculiar characteristics and capabilities of the community members.
We show that dynamic adaptation of crowdsourcing campaigns to community behaviour is particularly relevant. We demonstrate that this approach can be very e ffective for obtaining answers from communities, with very di fferent size, precision, delay and cost, by exploiting the social networking relations and the features of the crowdsourcing task. We show the approach at work within the CrowdSearcher platform, which allows con figuring and dynamically adapting crowdsourcing campaigns tailored to different communities. We report on an experiment demonstrating the eff ectiveness of the approach.

The figure below shows a declarative reactive rule that dynamically adapts the crowdsourcing campaign by moving the task executions from a community of workers to another, when the average quality score of the community is below some threshold.

The slides of the presentation are available on Slideshare. If you want to know more or see some demos, please visit:

The full paper will be available on the ACM Digital Library shortly.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

IFML 1.0: Interaction Flow Modeling Language approved by the OMG

After three years of work, IFML 1.0 is finally approved by the OMG!
The Interaction Flow Modeling Language was actually adopted one year ago, in March 2013, as Beta specification by the Object Management Group (OMG). Since then, the IFML Finalization Task Force worked hard to bring the specification to perfection.

The Object Management Group (OMG) Architecture Board approves the new IFML 1.0 standard on March 2014 in Reston, VA
The OMG Architecture Board gathered for approval of IFML. Among others, you can see Andrew Watson (OMG), Juergen Boldt (OMG), and representatives of IBM, 88Solutions, Adaptive, Fujitsu,  PrismTech and others.
Along the path, we got valuable feedback from implementors of the standard, spanning DSL tool vendors implementing the notation, UML tool vendors implementing the UML profile, and our own developers at WebRatio implementing the commercial industry-strenght modeling tool and code generators, as well as a bunch of opensource IFML editors. We also got feedback from WebRatio customers, which contributed to improve the language notation too.

All this summed up to 77 issues formally submitted to the OMG and subsequently addressed by the task force. The specification document, as well as the machine readable files (XMIs) have been cleaned up and prepared for final publication.
As a last step, the finalized version of the standard has been presented at the ADTF and at the Architecture Board of the OMG during the March technical meeting in Reston, VA, USA.
Version 1.0 is now officially adopted by the OMG. It's just a matter of a few weeks before the final, copyedited version of the specification will be officially available on the OMG servers.
For documentation purposes, here is a snapshot of the program
Meanwhile, you can have a look at the sneak preview of the final version of IFML. Further details are available on the official site.

As Stefano Butti, CEO of WebRatio, says in his recent blog post, IFML is one of the three biggest leaps in WebRatio history (together with the move to the US and the selection of WebRatio as Gartner Cool Vendor). Other vendors have already declared interest and/or started developing some modeling solution based on IFML. We look forward to wide adoption of this new standard, thanks also to the integration with other modeling aspects such as business modeling (with BPMN) and system modeling (with UML, SoaML, SysML, …)!

At the Reston event we also gave away the first copies ever of the very nice IFML Cheat Sheet (or Quick Reference Guide) prepared by WebRatio based on the official specification document.
The cheat sheet is available for free on the learning portal of WebRatio.

IFML CheatSheet - Quick Reference Guide and examples
The IFML cheat sheet: Quick Reference Guide and Examples (on the back side, not shown here).

Here is a small photo gallery of the event location, the WebRatio booth and the program of the AB plenary where IFML was adopted.


WebRatio boothOMG AB agenda for March 2014

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A standard UML profile of ArchiMate for Enterprise Architecture

Today at OMG a proposition has been made to going forward to a standardization of UML profile for Archimate. As such, it also acts as a bridge between  the OMG and the Open Group.

ArchiMate is a visual modeling language for Enterprise Architecture.

Current implementations of UML profiles for that are provided by SparxSystems and Modelio. There is no formal metamodel for ArchiMate. However, a few seminal semi-formal metamodels are around in white papers. The idea is to have a RFC (Request For Comments) out in June 2014, based on an agreed upon UML profile.
The task is complex, also because there is some kind of relation with TOGAF (at a certain point in history this was true, then the two worlds diverged but there is still some overlap).

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Roman Pichler on Agile Product Strategy at the AgileForInnovation event

On March 14, 2014 Politecnico di Milano hosted the AgileForInnovation event, organized by CEFRIEL and the Software Engineering group at DEIB (more specifically, by Elisabetta di Nitto, in the picture with Roman Pichler).

Elisabetta di Nitto and Roman Pichler
The event started with a keynote by Roman Pichler on Agile Product Strategy, which was very motivational.
The main message was: before delving into details of product design and implementation, one should focus on:
  • Market: Who are the users? Who are the customers?
  • Value Proposition: Why would they buy it? What value would they find it useful?
  • Business Drivers: why is it worthwhile to invest in it? What are the business goals?
A possible tool for focusing on this is the Vision Board, comprising: 

  • Vision statement
  • Target group: who?
  • Needs: why?
  • Product: what? (top 3 features that makes it stand out)
  • Value: How much?
Here is an example of vision board (courtesy of Roman Pichler):

Vision Board for agile product innovation
Example of Vision Board for agile product innovation.

You start applying validation on the idea. One of the main concepts then is to be able to understand immediately that your validation is giving back some signals of risk of failure. You must be able to fail and learn fast. You must be able to PIVOT, i.e.: if the product strategy is invalid, you need to stop or change, and pivot your strategy early. This is not easy:  accepting failure is not easy task!
But if you want to innovate in a lean and agile way, failure is part of the game. You must prepare a safe environment for failure.
One typical agile approach is SCRUM, which promotes quick "create-validate-analyse&update" cycles on the product deliveries.
Along these rounds, you may need:

  • refinements
  • early pivots (and then you go back to the vision board) when the feedback challenges your fundamental assumptions
  • late pivots and late failures (which is obviously much more painful and costly).
Here is the full slideset of Roman Pichler's speech:

Roberto Acerbis presenting history
and customer cases of WebRatio.
Agile Product Strategy from Roman Pichler

Within the same event, I gave a presentation on "Agile Sw Modeling for Increasing Productivity: Impossible Reality?", where I presented our experience with IFML, WebRatio and agile practices.

A presentation by Roberto Acerbis (see picture) covered the part of industrial experience and starting up of WebRatio.

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