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Rachel Bellamy <[log in to unmask]>
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Rachel Bellamy <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 9 Dec 2009 09:36:09 -0500
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ICSE 2010 Workshop on Flexible Modeling Tools 


Sunday, May 2, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa

Call for Position Papers

Most activities during the software lifecycle involve producing and 

manipulating representations of information. These range from domain 

analysis (such as business analysis) during the early stages of 

requirements engineering, through architectural and lower-level design, to 

coding, testing and beyond. The information representations are models, 

and hence these are modeling activities, though not typically called that 

in all cases. Many modeling tools exist to support modeling activities. 

They have a variety of advantages, such as syntax and semantics checking, 

providing multiple views of models for visualization and convenience of 

manipulation, providing domain-specific assistance (e.g., “content 

assist”) based on model structure, providing documentation of the modeling 

decisions, ensuring consistency of the models, and facilitating 

integration with other formal tools and processes, such as model driving 

engineering (MDE) and model checking.

Despite these advantages, however, formal modeling tools are usually not 

used for many of these activities. During the exploratory phases of 

design, it is more common to use white boards, pen and paper or other 

informal mechanisms. Free-form diagrams drawn there serve as the 

centerpiece of discussion and can easily evolve as discussion proceeds. 

During the early stages of requirements engineering, when stakeholders are 

being interviewed and domain understanding is being built, it is more 

common to use office tools (word processors, spreadsheets and 

drawing/presentation tools). Free-form textual documents, tables and 

diagrams serve as working documents and can easily be fashioned into 

presentations to stakeholders that are such an important part of this 

activity. The documents are easy to share with stakeholders. Users are 

also not forced to commit too early to specific choices, and thus have 

freedom during highly iterative, exploratory activities. Other examples 

exist as well.

Formal modeling tools and more informal but flexible, free-form approaches 

thus have complementary strengths and weaknesses. Practitioners throughout 

the software lifecycle are currently forced to choose between them. 

Whichever they choose, they lose the advantages of the other, with 

attendant frustration, loss of productivity and sometimes of traceability 

and even quality.

What can be done about this unfortunate dichotomy? Tools that blend the 

advantages of modeling tools and the more free-form approaches offer the 

prospect of allowing users to make tradeoffs between flexibility and 

precision/formality and to move smoothly between them. We call these 

flexible modeling tools. They might be modeling tools with added 

flexibility, or office tools with added modeling support, or tools of a 

new kind. 

This workshop will bring together people who understand tool users’ needs, 

usability, user interface design and tool infrastructure to explore these 

questions. The concrete goals of this workshop are to explore in depth the 

current dichotomy and its implications for users, leading to a list of key 

issues, and to discuss obstacles to flexible modeling and means to 

overcome them, leading to a shared understanding of the state-of-the-art 

and a new research agenda in flexible modeling tools.

Prospective participants are invited to submit 2-5 page position papers on 

any topic relevant to the dichotomy between modeling tools and more 

free-form tools. In particular, papers analyzing specific problems with 

existing tools, detailing requirements for flexible modeling tools, 

analyzing the usability tradeoffs involved in flexible modeling (e.g., 

using cognitive dimensions), describing approaches for architecting and 

building flexible modeling tools, and actual examples of such tools are 

all appropriate. 

Position papers must conform to the ICSE 2010 Format and Submission 

Guidelines and must be submitted through CyberChairPro by the submission 

deadline noted below. Position papers will be judged based on novelty, 

insightfulness, quality, relevance to the workshop, and potential to spark 

discussion. Accepted position papers will be posted on the workshop 

website. Depending on the number and quality of submissions, a magazine or 

journal special issue may be organized post-workshop.

The workshop will consist of a few, brief presentations of a subset of the 

accepted position papers, and considerable discussion. To fuel this 

discussion, all participants will be asked prepare:

Two problems they have experienced with existing modeling tools, or two 

tasks or situations for which modeling tools would be helpful but are not 

used typically used; and

Two features/differences in behavior or ideas for radical new tools they 

would really like to see. 

Important dates:

Position paper submission:      February 19, 2010

Notification of acceptance:     March 19, 2010

Workshop:       May 2, 2010


Harold Ossher, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, USA

André van der Hoek, University of California, Irvine, USA

Margaret-Anne Storey, University of Victoria, Canada

John Grundy,  Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Rachel Belamy, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, USA

Program Committee:

Steve Abrams, IBM Rational, USA 

Jo Atlee, University of Waterloo, Canada

Margaret Burnett, Oregon State University, USA

Krzysztof Czarnecki, University of Waterloo, Canada

Rob DeLine, Microsoft, USA

Anthony Finkelstein, University College London, UK 

John Hosking, University of Auckland, New Zealand

David Ing, IBM, Canada

Nenad Medvidovic, University of Southern California, USA

Gail Murphy, University of British Columbia, Canada

Marian Petre, Open University, UK