Assessing the Use of Slicing-based Visualizing Techniques on the Understanding of Large Metamodels

Abstract : Context. Metamodels are cornerstones of various metamodeling activities. Such activities consist of, for instance, transforming models into code or comparing metamodels. These activities thus require a good understanding of a metamodel and/or its parts. Current metamodel editing tools are based on standard interactive visualization features, such as physical zooms. Objective. However, as soon as metamodels become large, navigating through large metamodels becomes a tedious task that hinders their understanding. So, a real need to support metamodel comprehension appears. Method. In this work we promote the use of model slicing techniques to build interactive visualization tools for metamodels. Model slicing is a model comprehension technique inspired by program slicing. We show how the use of Kompren, a domain-specific language for defining model slicers, can ease the development of such interactive visualization features. Results. We specifically make four main contributions. First, the proposed interactive visualization techniques permit users to focus on metamodel elements of interest, which aims at improving the understandability. Second, these proposed techniques are developed based on model slicing, a model comprehension technique that involves extracting a subset of model elements of interest. Third, we develop a metamodel visualizer, called Explen, embedding the proposed interactive visualization techniques. Fourth, we conducted experiments. showing that Explen significantly outperforms EcoreTools, in terms of time, correctness, and navigation effort, on metamodeling tasks. Conclusion. The results of the experiments, in favor of Explen, show that improving metamodel understanding can be done using slicing-based interactive navigation features.
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Submitted on : Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 8:08:00 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - 12:15:34 PM
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Arnaud Blouin, Naouel Moha, Benoit Baudry, Houari Sahraoui, Jean-Marc Jézéquel. Assessing the Use of Slicing-based Visualizing Techniques on the Understanding of Large Metamodels. Information and Software Technology, Elsevier, 2015, 62, pp.124 - 142. ⟨10.1016/j.infsof.2015.02.007⟩. ⟨hal-01120558⟩

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