Section: Software and Platforms

The ATL Model Transformation Language

URL: http://www.eclipse.org/atl/

With an eye on the normative work of the OMG (MOF, OCL, QVT, etc.), a new conceptual framework has been developed based on a second generation model transformation language called ATL. Although ATL influenced the OMG standard, the approach is more general as discussed in [8] . In 2004 IBM gave an Eclipse innovation award to the ATL project. In 2007 Eclipse recognized ATL as one central solution for model transformation and promoted it to the M2M project (see Eclipse.org/m2m). There are more than 200 industrial and academic sites using ATL today, and several Ph.D. thesis in the world are based on this work.

In 2011 we started a new evolution phase for ATL. Our mid-term plan is making of ATL the leading solution for building autonomous reactive transformation systems, i.e. transformation networks that can autonomously manage a set of dataflows among the application models.

Following this line, we first implemented a new refinement mode for ATL, to support in-place transformations. This extension allows the dynamic manipulation of models while keeping them connected to runtime applications. Next, we presented a lazy execution algorithm for ATL. With it, the elements of the target model are generated only when and if they are accessed. This extension allows to build reactive transformation systems that react to requests of model elements, by triggering the necessary computation. Our lazy version of ATL enables also transformations that generate infinite target models, extending the application space of the model-transformation paradigm.

The latest (still ongoing) work in this direction is the development of a full reactive ATL engine, able to activate the minimal computation for responding to updates or request on the involved models. This engine is studied to scale up with large ATL networks. In this line we also introduced an algorithm for simplifying ATL transformation chains.

Performing just the required work on model transformation improves scalability, an open issue the previous described works contribute to solve. An efficient execution, as in the the lazy and reactive scenarios, may help with scalability problems by focusing the tasks in the required part of a very large transformation. However, this is not always the case and we might have to perform operations in the whole model. In this scenario, a solution for the scalability problem would be to take advantage of multi-core architectures that are very popular today, to improve computation times in the transformation of very large models. In this sense, a first step explores the strong parallelization properties rule-based languages like ATL have. A new prototype implementation of a parallel ATL engine have been developed showing how transformations can be developed without taking into account concurrency concerns, and that a transformation engine can automatically parallelize operations improving execution times.