• Date: 5/26/2011

    Model Driven Development Myths

    Myths that give Model Driven Development a Bad Name

    We are proud to introduce the first blog post from our new guest Blogger, Rafael Chaves, founder of Abstratt Technologies...

    It seems that people that resist the idea of model-driven development (MDD) do so because they believe no tool can have the level of insight a programmer can. They are totally right about that last part. But that is far from being the point of MDD anyways. However, I think that unfortunate misconception is one of the main reasons MDD hasn't caught on yet. Because of that, I thought it would be productive to explore this and other myths that give MDD a bad name.

    Model-driven development myths

    Model-driven development makes programmers redundant. MDD helps with the boring, repetitive work, leaving more time for programmers to focus on the intellectually challenging aspects. Programmers are still needed to model a solution, albeit using a more appropriate level of abstraction. And programmers are still needed to encode implementation strategies in the form of reusable code generation templates or model-driven runtime engines.

    Model-driven development enables business analysts to develop software (a variation of the previous myth). The realm of business analysts is the problem space. They usually don't have the skills required to devise a solution in software. Tools cannot bridge that gap. Unless the mapping between the problem space and solution space is really trivial (but then you wouldn't want to do that kind of trivial job anyways, right?).

    Model-driven development generates an initial version of the code that can be manually maintained from there on. That is not model-driven, it is model-started at most. Most of the benefits of MDD are missed unless models truly drive development.

    Model-driven development involves round-trip engineering. In MDD, models are king, 3GL source code is object code, models are the source. The nice abstractions from the model-level map to several different implementation artifacts that capture some specific aspect of the original abstraction, combined with implementation-related aspects. That mapping is not without loss of information, so it is usually not reversible in a practical way, even less so if the codebase is manually maintained (and thus inherently inconsistent/ill-formed). More on this in this older post, pay attention to the comments as well.

    Model-driven development is an all or nothing proposition. You use MDD where it is beneficial, combining with manually developed artifacts and components where appropriate. But avoid mixing manual written code with automatically generated code in the same artifact.

    What is your opinion? Do you agree these are myths? Any other myths about MDD that give it a bad name that you have seen being thrown around?

    Rafael has been writing code since he was in high school (20 yrs ago), and with time he discovered he was way more interested in how software was built than what the software actually did. For the last 8 years, he has been focusing on model-driven development, and as a result, he has built two products out of that: TextUML Toolkit, a UML modeling tool for Eclipse that uses a textual notation, and AlphaSimple, an online modeling environment that supports prototyping and code generation (currently in beta). Rafael is a keen blogger and also has a blog as he aims to stop people writing so much code... We collaborated because Objektum Solutions  are also on this quest.

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