Derivation and Refinement of Textual Syntax for Models

Florian Heidenreich, Jendrik Johannes, Sven Karol, Mirko Seifert, Christian Wende. Derivation and Refinement of Textual Syntax for Models. In Richard F. Paige, Alan Hartman, Arend Rensink, editors, Model Driven Architecture - Foundations and Applications, 5th European Conference, ECMDA-FA 2009, Enschede, The Netherlands, June 23-26, 2009. Proceedings. Volume 5562 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pages 114-129, Springer, 2009. [doi]


Textual Syntax as a form of model representation has made its way to the Model-Driven Software Development community and is considered a viable alternative to graphical representations. To support the design and implementation of text editing facilities many concrete syntax and model mapping tools have emerged. Despite the maturity of these tools, users still spend considerable effort to specify syntaxes and generate editors even for simple metamodels. To reduce this effort, we propose to refine a specification that is automatically derived from a given metamodel. We argue that defaults in a customisable setting enable developers to quickly realise text-based editors for models. In particular in settings where metamodels evolve, such a procedure is beneficial. To evaluate this idea we present EMFText, an EMF/Eclipse integrated tool for agile Textual Syntax development. We show how default syntax can easily be tailored and refined to obtain a custom text editor for EMF models and demonstrate our approach by two examples.