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Home » Modeling » M2T (model-to-text transformation) » Make Acceleo usable by non-programmers
Make Acceleo usable by non-programmers [message #1833885] Tue, 27 October 2020 01:06 Go to next message
Denis Nikiforov is currently offline Denis NikiforovFriend
Messages: 262
Registered: August 2013
Senior Member
Hi

We need to let users generate documents from their models using Acceleo. The problem is that the workflow is too complicated for a non-programmer:
1) Create Acceleo project
2) Add main module
3) Add required packages to registerPackages() method
4) Create UI Launcher Project

Users doesn't understand all this stuff. Also there are "tasks/*.xml" files which contains environment-specific properties (ECLIPSE_HOME, ECLIPSE_WORKSPACE). It's unclear what is the purpose of this files and should they be commited to a source repository.

For example, QVTo doesn't require all this Java/xml stuff. Is it possible to simplify Acceleo for end-users?
Re: Make Acceleo usable by non-programmers [message #1833919 is a reply to message #1833885] Tue, 27 October 2020 19:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ed Willink is currently offline Ed WillinkFriend
Messages: 6934
Registered: July 2009
Senior Member
Hi

Absolutely. In its *.mtl editing mode Acceleo knows what it's doing. Therefore the editor 'save' action should prepare files with consistent declarations for the subsequent standalone execution mode, including accurate synthesis of the the declarations necessary to load the metamodels in main; not just comments that users fail to read and so ask the why doesn't it work FAQ. It should just work. Unfortunately the standalone mode seems to have been independently developed causing numerous inconsistent file:/platform: agonies. If you feel inclined to redevelop the main generator sensibly, good luck. I can probably give you some pointers. The 'new' EcorePlugin.ExtensionProcessor may help.

Regards

Ed Willink
Re: Make Acceleo usable by non-programmers [message #1833922 is a reply to message #1833919] Tue, 27 October 2020 20:07 Go to previous message
Ed Willink is currently offline Ed WillinkFriend
Messages: 6934
Registered: July 2009
Senior Member
Hi

Sorry, I must take issue with the title and intent of this thread.

I am a huge fan of modeling and modeling tools in principle, but have to recognize that evolution-wise we are in a similar position to the early days of C; a great abstraction that didn't always work quite right, so you had to dig under the C to understand the bad code generation and stack corruption. The same is true with modeling, the models are great, but the tools are temperamental, great on a good day, but far too often a bad day really burns time.

Yesterday's OCL thread questioned using Date in OCL. This partially happens by EMF wrapping java.util.Date as the EDate EDataType but EDate has no operations, so any non-trivial usage of Date needs to tunnel through OCL to the Java API. Oops, OCL is a 'perfect' abstraction, no such tunneling available (yet).

I therefore question whether tools such as Acceleo can be realistically used by non-programmers until the modeling tools get a huge injection of maturity.

In the particular case of Acceleo there is a philosophical challenge; MOFM2T is a 'perfect' M2T abstraction, so it's impossible to contribute Java, Acceleo adds invoke but has minimal wizard/checking. Rewriting main is not often considered to structure the outer control. In contrast, Xtend adds syntactically rather similar String templates to an obfuscated Java, so that you can structure your outer and your inner code. This gives vastly more power and debuggability for a programmer. Unfortunately Xtend's tooling has many deficiencies, but I find them much less debilitating than Acceleo's.

Regards

Ed Willink
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