The Model Driven Software Network

Raise your level of abstraction

3 days raising the level of abstraction

(Original post here)

As already the last two years I had the chance to visit the Code Generation conference in Cambridge. The past years I had the chance to held a session, this time my proposals were not accepted, so I’m just attending here. The good thing is that I could just lay back and relax all these intersting sessions.This year about 110 experts came together, slightly more than last year. In the meanwhile I got in contact with many of those that come back every year and it is always nice to talk to them. But it is always the chance to get in contact with new persons, and I took the chance again.

Day 0
May flight was on Tuesday from Düsseldorf to Stansted in the afternoon, so I arrived in Cambridge in late afternoon local time. From the main station I took a taxi to Murray Edwards college. As it turned out the taxi driver was Kurdish and lived 13 years in Germany and is now for several years in Cambridge. Although he could speak german well we talked in english about Cambridge and the Football World Championship. Arrived at Murray Edwards I registered and went to my room.

At first I had no electricity in the room, but some employee from the College helped fast to solve the problem. For the evening I met with my colleagues Heiko Behrens and Moritz Eysholdt. We went to a pub near by and met J.P. Tolvanen and Risto Pohjonen from MetaCase, Brooke Hamilton from Microsoft and John Slaby from Raytheon there. A good meal, nice talk and some beer later we went back to the college, awaiting the conference beginning.

Day 1

Before going to breakfast at 8:00AM I registered for the conference. At this time it was not crowded, so I had the chance to exchange some words with Mark and Andy.

Back to breakfast already some attendees were there and it was time to give a warm welcome to all those that I knew already from past conferences.

After breakfast it was time to join the opening session. Mark opened the conference in his typical way with some British humour. In his slides he used some of the photos I took last year. This year I took also several photos, but last year I had better shots.
The first session I attended was “Migrating a large modelling environment from UML/XML to GMF/Xtext” by Moritz Eysholdt (itemis) and Johannes Rupprecht (VSA GmbH). The VSA has developed a large project for clearing of pharmacies, which started 2000. This was a large grown projects and they used MagicDraw for modelling to a high extend. They experienced severe performance problems modeling with MagicDraw, but they had also a really large scale model. To solve their modeling problems they decided to migrate to Xtext and GMF based model editors. The experience they have now is far better.

The next slot was already a decision point. I thought about joining the hands on session for MetaEdit+, but decided to listen to the case study “Effective use of Xtext in a Financial Organization” by Roberto Salama from Morgan Stanley. Roberto has developed a DSL using Xtext for their financial calculations, and from the DSL models he generates code for Q and evaluates that. At one point he stated that he tried using Xpand and found Xpand was not powerful enough to do a recursive tree traversal and flatten the result, and alternatively used Scala for that. I thought that he had a bad misunderstanding about the power of Xpand and actually what he tried to solve was actually a very trivial thing for Xpand. We introduced each other and teamed up the next day. I could show him that all the Scala code he did was actually a one-liner in Xpand/Xtend, and also the template that he did could be improved.

The other sessions I attended that day were “Designing DSLs – Quick and Dirty versus Quick and Clean” by Jos Warmer (Ordina), “Lessons learned in building a Model-Driven Software Factory” by Johan den Haan (Mendix) and “Eclipse e4: Eclipse is remodeling itsef” by Bernhard Merkle (Sick). All of them were interesting, but most informative to me was Bernhard’s talk. Also Bernhard’s presentation style was refreshing.
The conference continued with BoF sessions in the college bar, where I joined a discussion about the generation of documentation.

Right after all the sessions the conference day ended like last year with a punting boat tour. The weathcer was just perfect, so I suspect Mark to have bribed some weather god. The punting trip was a little bit shorter and less informative than last year, but anyway it was great. It’s just that I have attended it already last year and I found it slightly better.

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