Contrasting Dedicated Model Transformation Languages vs. General Purpose Languages: A Historical Perspective on ATL vs. Java based on Complexity and Size - Extended Abstract
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ISSN der Zeitschrift
Software Engineering 2022
Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V.
Model transformations are one key concept of model-driven engineering, and model transformation languages (MTLs) emerged with its popularity about 15 to 20 years ago. MTLs claim to ease model transformation development by abstracting from recurring transformation aspects and hiding complex semantics behind simple and intuitive syntax. Nonetheless, MTLs are rarely adopted in practice, there is still no empirical evidence for the claim of easier development, and the argument of abstraction deserves a fresh look in the light of modern general-purpose languages (GPLs) which have undergone a significant evolution in the last two decades. In our SoSyM paper, we report on a study in which we compare the complexity and size of model transformations written in three different languages, namely (i) the Atlas Transformation Language (ATL), (ii) Java SE5 (2004-2009), and (iii) Java SE14 (2020); the Java transformations are derived from an ATL specification using a translation schema we developed. Based on the results of these comparisons, we discuss the concrete advancements in newer Java versions. We also discuss to which extent new language advancements justify writing transformations in a GPL rather than a dedicated MTL. We further indicate potential avenues for future research on the comparison of MTLs and GPLs.