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