VMTL: a language for end-user model transformation

Vlad Acretoaie, Harald Störrle, Daniel Strüber

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Model transformation is a key enabling technology of Model-Driven Engineering (MDE). Existing model transformation languages are shaped by and for MDE practitioners—a user group with needs and capabilities which are not necessarily characteristic of modelers in general. Consequently, these languages are largely ill-equipped for adoption by end-user modelers in areas such as requirements engineering, business process management, or enterprise architecture. We aim to introduce a model transformation language addressing the skills and requirements of end-user modelers. With this contribution, we hope to broaden the application scope of model transformation and MDE technology in general. We discuss the profile of end-user modelers and propose a set of design guidelines for model transformation languages addressing them. We then introduce Visual Model Transformation Language (VMTL) following these guidelines. VMTL draws on our previous work on the usability-oriented Visual Model Query Language. We implement VMTL using the Henshin model transformation engine, and empirically investigate its learnability via two user experiments and a think-aloud protocol analysis. Our experiments, although conducted on computer science students exhibiting only some of the characteristics of end-user modelers, show that VMTL compares favorably in terms of learnability with two state-of the-art model transformation languages: Epsilon and Henshin. Our think-aloud protocol analysis confirms many of the design decisions adopted for VMTL, while also indicating possible improvements.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSoftware and Systems Modeling
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • End-user modelers
  • Epsilon
  • Experiment
  • Henshin
  • Learnability
  • Think-aloud protocol
  • Transparent model transformation
  • VMTL


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