While model driven design (MDD) is on the way to dominate software design methodologies the question of how to get to the initial model is largely unsolved. My thesis aims at a process which delivers out of the initial informal specification through gradual refinement a precise starting model for MDD.
A precise, complete and unambiguous specification is the prerequisite of a high quality software product, since a wrong specification corrupts all the subsequent design and implementation activities.
Specification is intrinsically an interactive and frequently interdisciplinary process. A core problem is a communication between domain experts familiar with the application area and software designers who have to translate domain specific knowledge to IT related models and solutions.
The lack of the joint language results frequently in a communication gap which prohibits an effective design process, since many users are unable to define or review the functional and non-functional requirements formulated in an IT oriented language despite of their deep skills in the target domain.
The goal of the MSc thesis is to bridge this communication gap by providing easy to understand models for the initial user-IT specialist interaction and gradually developing the precise specification by model refinement along series of modeling languages. The proposed workflow generates a series of increasingly detailed and precise models and supports their checking by peer review made by the domain expert and automated validation. The final specification is consistent, complete and contains approved requirements by the user therefore it provides a stable base to be used by the software developers.
The MSc thesis describes the already existing design development methodologies, and the rule of informal, semi-formal and formal models used in MDD. It addresses the core concepts, typical use and validation approaches of mind maps, concept maps and ontologies.
Specification design is an information fusion process merging preexisting, tacit knowledge with global information (like standards). The designated approach supports an effective merging of informal knowledge and preexisting formal models.
The end of the MSc thesis presents an overview of verification and validation technologies which assures the quality of the output specification. Finally initial application experiences are described.