Workshop on Domain Specific Visual Languages

An OOPSLA 2001 Workshop 
October 14, 2001 (Sunday)
Tampa Bay, Florida, USA


Themes and Goals

An upward shift in abstraction leads to a corresponding increase in productivity. In the past this has occurred when programming languages have evolved towards a higher level of abstraction. Today, domain-specific visual languages provide a viable solution for continuing to raise the level of abstraction beyond coding.

In a domain-specific visual language (DSVL), the models are made up of elements representing things that are part of the domain world, not the code world. The language follows the domain abstractions and semantics, allowing developers to perceive themselves as working directly with domain concepts. The models are simultaneously the design, implementation and documentation of the system, which can be generated directly from them.

Metamodeling and metaCASE tools significantly ease the implementation of domain-specific visual languages. They provide support for experimenting with the language as it is built, and remove the burden of tool creation and maintenance from the language creator. 

In this workshop, our focus will be on various issues related to domain-specific visual languages. Some of the issues that we would like to see addressed in this workshop are:

  • Industry/academic experience reports of creating and using DSVLs 
  • Novel approaches for code generation from DSVLs
  • Issues of support/maintenance for systems built with DSVLs
  • Approaches for identifying constructs for DSVLs
  • Evolution of DSVLs while they are in use 
  • Metamodeling frameworks and languages
  • Tools for supporting DSVLs 
  • Separation of concerns and the application of new modularity technologies (e.g., aspect-oriented/subject-oriented) to DSVLs
  • Specific domains where this technology can be most productive in the future (e.g. DSVLs to describe aspects of embedded systems, product family, systems with multiple implementation platforms)


Workshop Summary

The organizers presented the schedule and activities of the workshop. This was followed by a general introduction of all participants and their interests. To give a common set of terms and basis for discussion, the organizers presented a framework and introduction to the themes to be discussed.

Three of the participants - one from each group - gave 20-minute presentations of their papers, followed by discussion.

Following this, all participants split up into their focus groups to explore specifically defined questions targeted toward that topic.

At the end of the workshop, all participants came back together and each group gave a presentation summarizing its discussions. This, together with other background material, formed the basis of the results poster presented in the general OOPSLA poster session.

Workshop position papers and presentations, as well as photos from the workshop, are also available.


The following link provides examples of domain-specific modeling, as well as pointers to events and related topics:



Juha-Pekka Tolvanen
of Jyväskylä
Dept. of Information Systems
PO Box 35
FIN-40351 Jyväskylä

Jeff Gray
Vanderbilt University/
Nashville TN


Steven Kelly
MetaCase Consulting
Ylistönmäentie 31
FIN-40500 Jyväskylä

Kalle Lyytinen
Western Reserve University
Cleveland OH


Last update: 10/29/01