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Article series on model driven implementation

posted Feb 12, 2014, 6:39 AM by Daniel Stieger

Our article series "goodbye expensive software development" will be available in the German
"java magazin" issue 3/2014 and 4/2014. The article is focussing on model driven
implementation of business applications with domain specific languages (DSL).

After describing problem areas of modern software development for custom applications,
we present some theoretical background on DSL's. Ideas and concepts are not only
discussed in theory but also used in a typical application. We cover persistance concepts,
business logic concepts as well as user interface concepts. In a final conclusion, we
address the problems analyzed at the very beginning.


Here a link to the issue: https://jaxenter.de/magazines/Java-Magazin-314-170797

JavaFx TableView Memory Leak

posted Sep 18, 2013, 1:24 AM by Daniel Stieger   [ updated Sep 18, 2013, 1:26 AM ]

Before going productive with some of our generated user-interfaces in java FX, we set up a
profiling session in MAT to spot potential memory leaks (jdk at hand was 1.7.0_u25). And indeed,
we found some leak suspects related to the java FX TableView control. Once a TableView control
was instantiated it was not collected any more, holding quite a lot of retained heap with all it s data
objects. More precisely, only after same interaction with the TableView took place (by selecting a
row), the TableView did not get garbage collected.


Although Tom Schindl from bestsolution.at already filed a bug report on the issue, a fix on jdk7
is not available. We met last week to devise a workaround - and we finally found one.


Our proposed workaround is not a single measure, but a whole series of steps to ensure the cleanup.
One major problem is related to the selection and the focus model behind TableViews. Therefore,
(1) we set the focus model to null. The Fx class TableCellBehavior holds a reference in a static map
to all TableViews loaded. This reference is not removed when the TableView is no longer in use. By
using reflection, (2) we call setAnchor() of TableCellBehavior to remove this reference manually.
(3) All actions and listeners are removed and (4) we clear the Columns. We also noted, that FX
keeps track of the last removed nodes from the scene graph. (5) We call setCenter() twice to get
the table removed for the current BorderPane. However, we did not investigate the importance of
this measure further. (6) Last but not least, we get rid of all the items displayed in the table - also
just a measure of safety.



(Pic 1: Cleanup code used)


After applying this workaround in our TableForm component, we recognize a total heap size of aprox.
12 MB after program start-up. Displaying various data in some tabs results in a 100MB heap, but
closing the tabs and issuing a "perform GC" brings the heap down to 12MB +/- again.

Successfully adopted the javaFX technology

posted Jul 31, 2013, 8:08 AM by Daniel Stieger   [ updated Jul 31, 2013, 8:16 AM ]

Forms3 is our DSL to model user-interfaces for typical business applications on a logical level. Up to now, models were translated
by code generators to java-code using apache pivot as UI-library. With some help from our friends from bestsolution.at we recently
switched to the javaFX stack.

Since our DSL specifies user-interfaces in a pure logical form, i.e. without any dependencies on the underlying UI-library, we could
simply regenerate existing business-applications and run them in the javaFX environment.

JavaFX will allow us to take advantage of e(fx)clipse and the whole osgi-environment as future runtime for business-applications.
Furthermore, this was a first "prove of concept" that underlying technology stacks can be exchanged quite easily.

Modelling with the C programming language

posted Mar 5, 2013, 2:53 AM by Daniel Stieger

In Summer 2012 we used the mbeddr toolkit to generate C code out of modelled tests. mbeddr
supports embedded software development based on an extensible version of the C programming
language and an IDE. We recently wrote a case study, where we summarized our experiences made and 
some lessons learned. Feel free to contact us for further information.  

Research still going on ...

posted Nov 16, 2012, 3:01 AM by Daniel Stieger   [ updated Nov 16, 2012, 3:50 AM ]

After almost two years of research we summarized the „status quo“ in a couple of slides (german only). 

As described in the slides, we propose to develop enterprise applications around a few but very central concepts, i.e.


(1)   Processes and Conditions

(2)   commands and

(3)   data-structures



Some explanations of the concepts and the supporting engineering-process can be found in the slides. 

Our goal for Spring 2012 is to further develop the codegenerators to reach an initial release, 

generating OSGi-packages and javaFX userinterface for fat-client usage. 

Forms3 - UI Generator

posted Jul 18, 2012, 12:14 AM by Daniel Stieger

Finally, modellwerkstatt is releasing its first User Interface DSL reffered as "forms3". Non-Programmers can easily define views with tables, tabs and pop-up windows. Various Layouts are supported in order to place view elements with weights or per pixel. Furthermore a full set so called "Delegates" is contained. Delegates are editing elements like TextInput-, DateInput, DecimalInputFields or a ReferenceSelector. Besides views, user interaction opportunities like a button or a dropdown can be modelled as "Actions" which in turn can access any java code.

Forms3 is fully implemented as a DSL in Jetbrains MPS. Java Code for the RichInternetApplication (RIA) Framework apache pivot is fully generated, i.e. no knowledge concerning apache pivot is necessary. Right now, we are also working on a code generator for the Vaadin UI-framework. This will enable application developers to run forms3 models in any html browser, including mobile devices.

Jetbrains MPS showcase

posted Mar 26, 2012, 2:25 AM by Daniel Stieger   [ updated Mar 26, 2012, 2:30 AM ]

We recently wrote a paper describing our two DSLs to model business applications. I attached a pdf version of the paper to this post. Hope there are some interesting thoughts for you. Feel free to contact me in case of questions.   

Here is the paper! mps_showcase.pdf

Objectflow - the first release

posted Feb 21, 2012, 1:38 AM by Daniel Stieger   [ updated Feb 21, 2012, 5:32 AM ]

Instead of discussing language modularization, -composition or -extension in theory, i am going to give you a brief 
glimpse from a practical perspective by pointing out some major aspects of our business-application DSL´s: objectflow and
forms. Both DSL´s were built with jetbrains Meta Programming System. In this blog entry i will focus on objectflow since
we issued the first release of the DSL this week. 

Objectflow builds on the ideas of Eric Evans´ paradigm of domain-driven design (DDD). Any data (entities or value objects
in DDD terms) can be modelled as objectflow business objects  with various attributes and references. For example, an
invoice with invoice positions is modelled as a business object invoice containing a collection of invoice position business
objects. The invoice becomes a so called “root aggregate”, when functionality or operations are added in a dedicated invoice
service. Basically, all necessary functionality has to be put into a service and in turn, the service has to be related to a
business object. Thus, although Objectflow services can be written in plain java, the structure and building blocks of
services are standardized. Particularly this standardization results in more transparency and higher code quality by also incorporating
the flexibility of the java language itself.

 Example of invoice service

Objectflow also takes advantage of a very strong collection language from MPS, which can be applied in services. Building
unions of invoices or summing up a collection of invoices are central operations in business and should therefore be
supported with a very clear and handy syntax. The collection language employed with objectflow provides the means to build 
expressive queries using closures - in a way similar to Microsoft´s LINQ.

The very same high level collection language is also used in objectflow to handle database queries. Objectflow allows the
developer to create a so called “repository” containing various queries for business objects. Instead of generating java code,
SQL queries as well as their mappings to related database table fields with business object properties are generated automatically.
Thus the developer is no longer challenged by technical implementation details like mapping or database querying. 

 Example of database query

Of course, objectflow actively supports test driven development. Developers can create a new executable testsuit - tailored
to test business logic- with just one click. The testsuit contains pretest-data and posttest-data, both described in simple
json-notation. Pretest-data contains necessary data saved in business objects, which gets built and initialized before running a test.
Posttest-data contains expected outcomes which are compared with actual data from the test by posttest-checker methods.
To get a service tested, just shovel some pretest-data into a service and check it after execution with expected results.
In our initial case of invoices, one can test a booking services with a pretest invoice and posttest booking lines. 

 Example of test suit

Feel free to contact me for further explanations. In the forthcomming blog entry, i am going to present some code examples 
and screenshots from the forms DSL. See you soon...

Screencasts added

posted Jan 10, 2012, 12:40 AM by Daniel Stieger   [ updated Jan 10, 2012, 8:49 AM ]

Starting in October 2010, modellwerkstatt developed three domain specific languages (DSL) in order to model the requirments of business applications. The DSL´s are programming languages pretty close to java, but with unique features to easy and accelerate the development of business applications. Major features common to standard business applications are implemented in code generators. This is not only improving time to market, but also increasing standardization and code quality. Please refer to Martin Fowler to get a more in detail explanation of the theory behind DSLs (http://martinfowler.com/bliki/DomainSpecificLanguage.html).

The three languages were developed in Jetbrains MPS:

  1. objectflow: a fast object relational mapper. Objectflow can query databases, convert results in BusinessObjects and save BusinessObjects to a database with appropriate transaction handling. Although various relations are supported, no additional SQL knowledge is needed.Code is generated for the mybatis sql mapping framework.  

  2. forms: a user interface design language. Forms addresses all features needed to develop ERP styled user interfaces, i.e. tabular views, form views, editing windows, wizzards, workflows and a application trees. Code is generated for the Apache Pivot RIA framework.

  3. fopland: a language to define printing layouts. In order to print BusinessObjects on various printing systems, fopland allows for the definition of so called printing stylesheets. The fopland code-generator converts those fopland stylesheets to xsl-fo. Common known formatting systems like apache fop can be use to create pdf documents then.

We have created two sceencasts to point out the power of DSL modelling. A simple BusinessObject “customer” should be handled. The whole business application is built from scratch. In screencast 1 we are creating the application with a view, in screencast 2 we add editing features to the application. Hope you enjoy the videos …  although we have German versions only right now...

The next screencasts will be available in english. We will demonstrate input validation, wizzards, advanced queries and how a service can be implemented with a powerful collection language and preconditions. Stay tuned! 

Some Progress with ObjectFlow and Modelestic

posted Aug 26, 2011, 5:54 AM by Daniel Stieger   [ updated Aug 26, 2011, 6:05 AM ]

Currently, we are developing a business application involving a large database, some business logic and a user interface. The whole application should be modeled with a domain specific language in order to ease communication between stakeholders, increase software development productivity and foster technology independence. With this post, i just want to give a brief overview over the two languages employed in this project: Objectflow and Modelestic.

Jetbrains Meta Programming System (MPS) was chosen as language workbench to implement our two DSL´s. Right know, MPS supports java technology with a complete java model called baseLanguage out of the box. Thus, our two DSL´s were built on top of the baseLanguage, inheriting a good deal of features like expressions or data types from there. Drawing heavily on the MPS baseLanguage was the main reason for using MPS and relying on java. However, java is wide spread in business application environments anyway.

Instead of developing one single DSL for this project, two languages – namely (1) Objectflow and (2) Modelestic – were devised. Objectflow primarily focuses on data structures and business-logic, whereas modelestic is a DSL to model user interfaces (UIs).

Lets first turn to Objectflow. The DDD (domain driven design) paradigm of Evans (2009) can be understood as the foundation of Objectflow. The DSL supports modeling of
  • business objects: the data objects used by the application, e.g. invoice and invoice positions
  • services: operations offered (the business logic iteself)
  • repositories: database save / query operations, e.g. findInvoiceByDate()
  • applications: main entry point, setup and interconnection of all objects like services, repositories …

In order to handle business logic easily, additional high level concepts like a collection language to express operations on lists of objects were included. Therefore, reordering or summarizing receipts and their positions can easily accomplished. Furthermore state-machines and transaction constructs are included. Objectflow's code generators build upon jdbc, mybatis and google juice.

Modelestic is used to model necessary UI´s. Following the ideas of Just-UI (2009), the developer can simply define ui s as list views (display multiple objects of the same type in a table) and form views (display one object at a time). These two patterns can be combined in a master-detail view. The views as well as java controllers are completely generated for the apache pivot toolkit, allowing development of desktop applications and applets (RIA).

The following pictures should give an impression of the DSL s and the outcome generated.

     (1) Main Application Configuration in Modelestic

      (2) Creation of a BusinessApplication Editor for WeBelege

     (3) A fully generated Client based on objectflow / modelestic

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