Two days of “ORMing” at the International Workshop on Object-Role Modelling 2006

The second international workshop on Object-Role Modelling was held last week in Montpellier in conjunction with the OTM conferences. The joy of being with likeminded people who also think ORM is the best conceptual modeling language around for the moment works stimulating. Of course, there exist workshops which thank their whole existence to the fact that the organizers couldn’t get their papers published anywhere else. But not so with the ORM workshop, presenters, and participants who included a.o. Sjir Nijssen, Terry Halpin, Erik Proper, Necito de la Cruz, and Ken Evans. The mix of academia and industry seems to have found a common ground and even managed to communicate with each other (if only this would be the case with researchers and bioinformaticians…).

Making ORM models is not as easy as putting together an ER model or drawing a UML diagram, but it is more expressive, easier to maintain, really design- and implementation-independent, etc. etc., and in the end, the resulting software has a better quality (thus: happier customers). Among other advantages, it forces one to do the thinking during the analysis phase of development instead of going over the deadline in the testing stage. So, it’s not particularly suitable for life scientists who want a one-off tool by tomorrow and that works only tomorrow, but it is for those who want a tool that also works the day after tomorrow and that is easier to maintain when biologists want more features.

A nice thing with ORM is its versatility: it’s not just a conceptual modeling language, but comprises aspects such as methodology, usability, and a variety of usage possibilities, such as database development, data warehouses, other types of applications, requirements engineering, and, to my surprise, even for assessing textbook complexity.

Some of the topics that passed the revue this year were language extensions and expressivity of the language, e.g. adding dynamic rules [1], representing part-whole relations [2], and from the perspective of designing programming languages [3]. A second set of papers looked into architecture and conceptual modeling methodologies [4] [5] [6]. A paper on Dogma [7] was, like last year, good for starting a discussion on realists versus, well, non-realists, and on conceptual models vs ontologies. I’ll leave both topics for another time, but the interested reader may want to have a look at Ingvar Johansson’s introduction for non-philosophers [8].

A full list of accepted papers is available online. An ORM foundation is in the process of being set up (for now, quite a lot of information can be found on http://www.orm.net).

[1] Balsters, H., Carver, A., Halpin, T., Morgan, T. Modeling Dynamic Rules in ORM. 2nd International Workshop on Object-Role Modelling (ORM 2006), Montpellier, France, Nov 2-3, 2006. In: OTM Workshops 2005. Meersman, R., Tari, Z., Herrero., P. et al. (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4278. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2006. pp1201-1201.

[2] Keet, C.M. Part-whole relations in Object-Role Models. 2nd International Workshop on Object-Role Modelling (ORM 2006), Montpellier, France, Nov 2-3, 2006. In: OTM Workshops 2005. Meersman, R., Tari, Z., Herrero., P. et al. (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4278. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2006. pp1116-1127.

[3] Betsy Pepels, Rinus Plasmeijer, and H.A. (Erik) Proper. Fact-oriented modeling from a programming language designer’s perspective. 2nd International Workshop on Object-Role Modelling (ORM 2006), Montpellier, France, Nov 2-3, 2006. In: OTM Workshops 2005. Meersman, R., Tari, Z., Herrero., P. et al. (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4278. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2006. pp1170-1180.

[4] P. van Bommel, S.J.B.A. Hoppenbrouwers, H.A. (Erik) Proper and Th.P. van der Weide. Giving Meaning to Enterprise Architectures: Architecture Principles with ORM and ORC. 2nd International Workshop on Object-Role Modelling (ORM 2006), Montpellier, France, Nov 2-3, 2006. In: OTM Workshops 2005. Meersman, R., Tari, Z., Herrero., P. et al. (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4278. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2006. pp1138-1147.

[5] P. van Bommel, S.J.B.A. Hoppenbrouwers, H.A. (Erik) Proper and Th.P. van der Weide Exploring modelling strategies in a meta-modelling context. 2nd International Workshop on Object-Role Modelling (ORM 2006), Montpellier, France, Nov 2-3, 2006. In: OTM Workshops 2005. Meersman, R., Tari, Z., Herrero., P. et al. (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4278. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2006. pp1128-1137.

[6] S.J.B.A. (Stijn) Hoppenbrouwers, L. (Leonie) Lindeman and H.A. (Erik) Proper. Capturing Modeling Processes – Towards the MoDial Modeling Laboratory. 2nd International Workshop on Object-Role Modelling (ORM 2006), Montpellier, France, Nov 2-3, 2006. In: OTM Workshops 2005. Meersman, R., Tari, Z., Herrero., P. et al. (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4278. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2006. pp1242-1252.

[7] Damien Trog, Jan Vereecken, Stijn Christiaens, Pieter De Leenheer, Robert Meersman. T-Lex: A Role-based Ontology Engineering Tool. 2nd International Workshop on Object-Role Modelling (ORM 2006), Montpellier, France, Nov 2-3, 2006. In: OTM Workshops 2005. Meersman, R., Tari, Z., Herrero., P. et al. (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4278. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2006. pp1191-1200.

[8] Johansson, I. Bioinformatics and Biological Reality. Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 2006, 39:274-287.

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