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Conforming with this standard, an MBE workbench is an architecture framework which aggregates viewpoints clearly separating concerns (e.g., performance, safety, security, cost). A viewpoint is an engineering extension which comes with its own metamodels, representations (e.g., diagrams, tables, user interfaces), rules (e.g., validation, analysis, transformation), services and tools to address an engineering specialty. Consequently, an MBE workbench is the result of a flexible assembly of core viewpoints extended by new ones which are, in the context of co-engineering, appropriate and valuable for specialty engineers. The set of all the viewpoints defines the complete description of a system.

To build MBE workbenches, designers must be autonomous in creating and maintaining their own viewpoints, without coding. Developers can enrich them afterward, for instance for algorithm implementation. To meet this requirement, Kitalpha offers a development environment made of DSLs (Domain-Specific Languages) to assist designers and developers in their architecture frameworks and viewpoints development activity activities. For instance, textual editors make it possible to declare viewpoint metamodels, user interfaces, diagrams, or services. From those DSLs, generators build all the architecture framework and viewpoint artifacts. For example, the declaration of diagrams using DSLs becomes the technical description of Sirius diagrams. During the stages of edition with DSLs and generation, the notion of target application is introduced to manage the variability of environments in which the artifacts are to be deployed and executed (e.g., DSL vs. UML, CDO vs. XMI environments).

Figure 1. Development Process Overview

The Kitalpha development environment also provides MBE core components to develop complete MBE workbenches, for instance for the functions of import/export (e.g., for data exchange with MBE workbenches or specialty tools), model transformations with traceability, or html documentation generation.

Kitalpha potentially has the ability to implement architecture framework standards (e.g., TOGAF/MODAF) but also proprietary method or domain workbenches.

Figure 2. Illustration of MBE workbench

This rest of this section describes the key features of Kitalpha.

Anatomy of Kitalpha

Architectural position of Kitalpha

Kitalpha can be considered as a meta-tool. The following picture presents the different working contexts with regard to Kitalpha.

  1. At the top, stakeholders describe a system architecture,
  2. An MBE workbench enables designers to describe system architecture,
  3. Kitalpha is a workbench allows developing and executing MBE workbenches,
  4. Finally, Kitalpha is built atop Eclipse and mainly uses modeling components.

Figure 3. Position of Kitalpha

Elements of internal architecture

Kitalpha is divided into two layers:

  • An Engineering Layer which is a set of components and services for developing and executing MBE workbenches. This layer contains all the architecture framework / viewpoint metamodels, DSLs with their representations, and services (Cf. section about the Kitalpha services).
  • A Core Technology Kit (CTK) which is a set of technical components and frameworks required by the Engineering Layer.

The CTK is dedicated to host a set of added-value technological components which are not provided by Eclipse components or to adapt existing tools for a specific purpose (e.g., adaptation of the standard EGF factories). A substantial tool or set of tools can be grouped in a Kitalpha sub-project for a better partitioning and decoupling of the sub-components development lifecycles.

Precision of the ISO/IEC-42010 standard

The ISO/IEC-42010 standard is intentionally general in order to be open and declined into multiple implementations. The following parts present the choices made to implement the standard.

Kitalpha viewpoint

In compliance with the standard, a Kitalpha architecture framework aggregates viewpoints. A Kitalpha viewpoint is defined as:

  • A set of metamodels
  • A set of notations (e.g., icons)
  • A set of representations (e.g., textual, graphical)
  • A set of rules (e.g., check, transformation)
  • A set of services
  • A set of tools
  • Moreover, a viewpoint inherits and aggregates viewpoints.

Kitalpha services

Kitalpha provides both development and runtime services to define, use and manage architecture frameworks and viewpoints.

Main services at development time are:

  • For Architecture Framework (AF): 1) definition of an AF, 2) generation of AF artifacts, 3) packaging of AF artifacts with the viewpoints it aggregates.
  • For Viewpoint: 1) definition of a viewpoint, 2) generation of viewpoint artifacts, 3) packaging of viewpoint artifacts.

Main services at runtime are:

  • Core services:
    • System architecture description with an architecture framework and its viewpoints
    • Viewpoint Manager in order to monitor viewpoints
    • Activation / Deactivation of a viewpoint
    • Detachment / Attachment of viewpoint data
    • Migration of a viewpoint
  • Additional services:
    • Versioning
    • Team Working
    • Reporting
    • Architecture Assessment
    • Test
    • Simulation
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