Definition of Modeling vs. Programming Languages

  • Maged ElaasarEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11244)


Modeling languages (like UML and SysML) are those used in model-based specification of software-intensive systems. Like programming languages, they are defined using their syntax and semantics. However, both kinds of languages are defined by different communities, and in response to different requirements, which makes their methodologies and tools different. In this paper, we highlight the main differences between the definition methodologies of modeling and programming languages. We also discuss the impact of these differences on language tool support. We illustrate our ideas using examples from known programming and modeling languages. We also present a case study, where we analyze the definition of a new modeling language called the Ontology Modeling Language (OML). We highlight the requirements that have driven OML definition and explain how they are different from those driving typical programming languages. Finally, we discuss how these differences are being abstracted away using new language definition tools.


Modeling Programming Syntax Semantics API Methodology 



The research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply its endorsement by the United States Government or the Jet Propulsion Labor.


  1. 1.
    Hopcroft, J., Ullman, J.: Introduction to Automata Theory, Languages, and Computation. Addison-Wesley, Reading (1979)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Object Management Group: OMG Unified Modeling Language, version 2.5.1 (2017).
  3. 3.
    Object Management Group: OMG System Modeling Language, version 1.5 (2017).
  4. 4.
    Object Management Group: Business Process Model And Notation, version 2.0.2 (2014).
  5. 5.
    Object Management Group: Meta Object Facility, version 2.5.1 (2016).
  6. 6.
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Ontology Modeling Language (OML) Workbench (2018).
  7. 7.
    Scowen, R.: Extended BNF — A generic base standard. In: Software Engineering Standards Symposium (1993)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Levine, J., Mason, T., Brown, D.: "Lex & Yacc," O’Reilly & Associates, October 1992. ISBN: 1565920007Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Parr, T.: “ANTLR”.
  10. 10.
    Gamma, E., Helm, R., Johnson, R., Vlissides, J.: Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software. Addison-Wesley, Reading (1995)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Steinberg, D., Budinsky, F., Paternostro, M., Merks, E.: EMF: Eclipse Modeling Framework, 2nd edn. (2009)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Merks, E.: “Xcore”.
  13. 13.
    Object Management Group: Object Constraint Language, version 2.4 (2014).
  14. 14.
    Object Management Group: XML Metadata Interchange, version 2.5.1 (2015).
  15. 15.
    Object Management Group: MOF Model to Text Transformation Language, version 1.0 (2008).
  16. 16.
  17. 17.
  18. 18.
    Object Management Group: Diagram Definition, version 1.1 (2015).
  19. 19.
    Object Management Group: MOF Query/View/Transformation, version 1.3 (2016).
  20. 20.
  21. 21.
    Eclipse: Graphical Modeling Project (GMP).
  22. 22.
  23. 23.
    Object Management Group: Business Motivation Model, version 1.3 (2015).
  24. 24.
    Object Management Group: Semantics of a Foundational Subset for Executable UML Models, version 1.3 (2017).
  25. 25.
    Microsoft: Language Server Protocol.
  26. 26.
  27. 27.
  28. 28.
  29. 29.
    W3C: OWL 2 Web Ontology Language Primer (2nd edn.) (2012).
  30. 30.
    Apache: Apache Jena.
  31. 31.
    W3C: SPARQL Query Language for RDF (2008).
  32. 32.
    Apache: Apache Spark.
  33. 33.
    Object Management Group: Action Language for Foundational UML, version 1.1 (2017).
  34. 34.
  35. 35.
  36. 36.
    R-Project The R Project for Statistical Analysis.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

Personalised recommendations