How to sustain a tool building community-driven effort. Experiences from the modeling trenches.

MODEVAR@SPLC 2021 Keynote, by Jordi Cabot


Success of any modeling initiative is strongly liked to the availability of good supporting tool. Indeed, we have seen languages grow and die based on the capacity of the language community to provide a usable, well-documented, stable and efficient tool to potential industrial partners interested in adopting such language.

There is clear gap between the needs of these industrial users and the proof-of-concept quality tools produced by most research efforts. And current evaluation agencies and programs do not properly reward long-term investment in tool development which makes bridging gap a big challenge.

In my teams we have released over 20 model-based tools. Some of them died alone, we had to kill others due to a lack of resources and only a handful knew some success and popularity. In this talk, I will discuss some of these failures and provide some lessons learned and useful tips for the sustainable development of new modeling tools that could become a new de facto standard in the community.

Jordi Cabot

Jordi Cabot is an ICREA Research Professor at Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, the Research center of the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) where he is leading the SOM Research Lab. Previously, he has been at École des Mines de Nantes, Inria, University of Toronto, Politecnico di Milano and the Technical University of Catalonia. His research falls into the broad area of systems and software engineering, especially promoting the rigorous use of models in all types of engineering tasks and complex domains. Current research topics include pragmatic formal verification techniques, analysis of developer communities, modeling of complex systems and the role AI can play in software development (and vice versa).