An Industrial Case Study on the Choice Between Language Customization Mechanisms

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Effective usage of a general purpose modeling language in software engineering poses a need for languagecustomization – adaptation of the language for a specific purpose. In the context of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) the customization could be done using two mechanisms: developing profiles and extending the metamodel of UML. This paper presents an industrial case study on the choice between metamodel extensions and profiles as well as the influence of the choice on the quality of products based on the extensions. The results consist of a set of nine prioritized industrial criteria which complement six theoretical criteria previously identified in the literature. The theoretical criteria are focused on the differences between the extension mechanisms of UML while the industrial criteria are focused on development of products based on these extensions. The case study reveals that there are considerable differences in effort required to develop comparable products using each mechanism and that the quality (measured as correctness of a product) is different for these comparable products by an order of magnitude.