Separate sessions at the conference focused on the two topics. During one 90-minute session, panelists from companies such as Microsoft, Compuware, and SAP mostly discussed shortcomings of software modeling.
Model-driven development needs to be woven with other technologies such as patterns and frameworks, said Jack Greenfield, software architect for Enterprise Frameworks and Tools and Microsoft.
"I don't believe in high-level models where I push a big red button and it generates a lot of stuff that I'm expected to live with," Greenfield said. He cited CASE as presenting a failed example of this.
But panelist Juha-Pekka Tolvanen, co-president and CEO of MetaCase, countered by saying full code generation from the models is possible.
One issue with modeling is that not everyone knows how to do it, creating a disconnect between those who can and those cannot, said panelist Scott Ambler, a consultant with Ambysoft. "It's no good if only one or two people on our team know how to model and everybody else doesn’t have a clue," he said. The definition of modeling should be expanded, however, Ambler said.
Responding to a question about resolving design issues among developers, Greenfield urged the use of best practices and pitched Microsoft's Software Factories concept. "At the end of the day, Software Factories, which I developed, is really about capturing these best practices and communicating those best practices," he said.
Model-driven development "puts the end at the front as if the goal is to use models," Greenfield said. The goal is to understand how to build systems and spend less time reinventing them, he said.
The OMG Model Driven Architecture (MDA), in fact, lacks an architecture, Greenfield said. MDA relies on Unified Modeling Language (UML); Microsoft has not been a big supporter of UML but other panelists noted its use in modeling.
Management of metadata was cited as critical. "You have to have a coordinated approach to how you manage the metadata," said David Frankel, lead standards architect for Model Driven Systems at SAP.
Compuware's Jon Kern, subject matter expert in the company's Optimal J group, urged that consideration be given to hiring the best people for a project. "Just hire the smart ones and you don’t have to worry about getting them there," he said.
An audience member asked about use of Eclipse technology in modeling. But Compuware's Kern was not sold. "The MOF (MetaObject Facility) is more powerful and allows you to do more things than the Eclipse generator," he said.
"Eclipse is no silver bullet," Kern said.
An audience member said current modeling tools are difficult because they usually do not consider what a model is. "Not a single tool that I have ever used adequately supports the entire process," the audience member said.
Ambler said the industry needs to recognize that not everyone thinks visually. "We have no clue how many people here are visual thinkers," Ambler said.