Interactive Model-Based Compilation : A Modeller-Driven Development Approach

There is a growing tendency for using domain-specific languages, which help domain experts to stay focussed on abstract problem solutions. It is important to carefully design these languages and tools, which fundamentally perform model-to-model transformations. The quality of both usually decides the effectiveness of the subsequent development and therefore the quality of the final applications. However, as the complexity and safety requirements of modern systems grow, it becomes increasingly burdensome to create highly customized languages and difficult to provide reasonable overviews within these tools. This thesis introduces a new interactive model-based compilation methodology. Compilations for arbitrary model-to-model transformations are themselves described as models. They can be instantiated for particular inputs, e. g. a program, to create concrete compilation runs, which return the result of that compilation. The compilation instance is interactively observable. Intermediate results serve as new inputs and as documentation. They can be used to create highly customized views and facilitate understandability. This methodology guides modellers from the start of the compilation to the final result so that they can interactively refine their models. The methodology has been implemented and validated as the KIELER Compiler (KiCo) and is available as part of the KIELER open-source project. It is used to implement the current reference compiler for the SCCharts language, a statecharts dialect designed for specifying safety-critical reactive systems based on a synchronous model of computation. The interactive model-based compilation approach was key to the rapid prototyping of three different compilation strategies, as well as new language extensions, variations and closely related languages. The results are verified with benchmarks, which are again modelled using the same approach and technology. The usability of the SCCharts language and the KiCo tooling is documented with long-term surveys and real-life industrial, academic and teaching examples.

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