OMG Standards At Work in the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) – summary of the day and materials

Today September 24, 2015, a special event took place in Cambridge, MA: the OMG Standards At Work in the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT).

I have been asked to give a speech on the role of user interaction modelling within complex IoT system in industry: Internet of Things and Internet of People: The Role of User Interaction in the IIoT vision.

The full slide deck is available here:


Here is my take on the topic: User interaction plays a crucial role in every system. This is true for IoT too. Sensors, actuators and intelligent things connected together can cooperate and exchange information, but their ultimate goal is to provide value to people. Such value can be perceived only through appropriate user interfaces, which visualise information (through dashboard, reports, or infographics), let user navigate the information, and also interact with the devices, by setting properties or regulating their behavior. That’s why it’s important that in the IIoT development context we consider also user interaction. In my presentation I introduced IFML, the Interaction Flow Modeling Language, the OMG standard that focuses on user interfaces and their integration with information systems, data sources, sensors and actuators. The presentation reports on some success stories from the industry, where IFML has been successfully applied. Large scale examples include consumer-oriented user interfaces, backend systems, data analysis dashboards, and interactions for command and control. Adopters include GE, Acer Computer, banks, utilities and military.

The other speakers of the event also provided interesting use cases, examples and insights on the span of the effort and potential of IoT, especially in the industrial environment. The speeches were as follows:

  • Welcome: by Dr. Richard Soley, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Object Management Group (OMG) and Executive Director, Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) —
  •  Introduction and Overview: by Andrew Watson, Vice President and Technical Director Object Management Group (OMG)
  • DDS Applications in the Industrial Internet of Things: by Dr. Stan Schneider, CEO, Real-Time Innovations, Inc.
  • DDS – Aligning OT and IT to Deliver the Potential of the Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT): by Steve Jennis, Sr. Vice President, Corporate Development, PrismTech
  • SysML – System Modeling Language Benefits for the Complex Systems of IIoT: by Matthew Hause, GTM Technical Specialist, Engineering Fellow, PTC, OMG UPDM Co-Chair
  • CISQ – Software Risk in the IoT Universe: by Dr. Bill Curtis, Director, Consortium for IT Software Quality (CISQ)
  • System Assurance and Related Standards: by Dr. Ben Calloni, Lockheed Martin Fellow, Lockheed Martin and Co-Chair OMG System Assurance Task Force

Find the full program of the day and materials by the other presenters here: OMG Standards for IIoT agenda.

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OMG Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Standards At Work

What do SysML™, IFML™, SysA and DDS™ standards have in common, and how can they be put at work in the (Industrial) Internet of Things [IoT and IIoT] context?

Industrial Plant schema
Industrial plant with IoT sensors and data sharing
To respond to this question, I will join a special event by the Object Management Group (OMG) on September 23, 2015, from 1:30 pm – 5:30 pm at the Cambridge, MA meeting.
The event will consist of short presentations of the standards, panels and discussions of industrial cases and will allow a closer look at how OMG standards are shaping the Industrial Internet of Things around the globe. OMG is joining forces with IIC (Industrial Internet Consortium) for covering IIoT.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is delivering improved productivity, major cost savings, and streamlined processes to professionals from all industries. OMG has been active in IIoT standardization from long before “IIoT” became an industry buzzword.
This half-day information session brings together industry experts who will share case studies of these standards at work in the Industrial Internet, and present their vision of the future within this rapidly growing field. OMG is committed in supporting IIoT efforts and its standards cover several aspects of the field, as described here.
The topics covered during the event include:

  • SysML – System Modeling Language. SysML is a dialect of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) standard, and supports the specification, analysis, design, verification and validation of a broad range of systems and systems-of-systems.
  • IFML – Interaction Flow Modeling Language. IFML is designed for expressing the content, user interaction and control behavior of the front-end of applications, including complex systems found in the Industrial Internet of Things.
  • SysA – System Assurance and CISQ. OMG’s Systems Assurance Task Force (SysA TF) works with CISQ on standards that ensure the reliability, safety and security of IIoT systems.
  • DDS – Data Distribution Service for Real-Time Systems. OMG’s  DDS standard provides a protocol that meets the demanding scalability, performance, and Quality of Service requirements of IIoT applications spanning connected machines, enterprise systems, and mobile devices.

The event is free and anyone can join. You can register to the event here:

OMG IIoT event
You can find here the official page of the event, with the detailed program and other information.

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Here we are: IFML 1.0 published by the OMG officially

IFML 1.0 is finally published!

The OMG released the official 1.0 version of the new standard in March 2015. It took several years of research, discussions and validation, but here we are with the standard specification. The specification document can be downloaded for free at:

Here is Emanuele ready for the presentation given at the Object Management Group ADTF (Analysis & Design Task Force).

Emanuele Molteni presenting IFML implementation
and success stories at the OMG meeting

With perfect timing, we are also ready to go to the market with:

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The IFML book – OMG’s Interaction Flow Modeling Language explained

After almost one year of work, the result of our efforts finally came to light in late December 2014. Since it was almost Christmas time, we decided to wait 2014 for the launch. But now, here we are.
OMG Press and Morgan Kauffman published our book:

Interaction Flow Modeling Language:
Model-Driven UI Engineering of Web and Mobile Apps with IFML
Additionally, I can announce officially we will have a launch event at the next OMG meeting in Reston, VA, USA, in March 2015.
The book introduces the reader to the novel OMG standard Interaction Flow Modeling Language (IFML). Authors Marco Brambilla and Piero Fraternali are also authors of the IFML standard and wrote this book to explain the main concepts of the language. They effectively illustrate how IFML can be applied in practice to the specification and implementation of complex web and mobile applications, featuring rich interfaces, both browser based and native, client side components and widgets, and connections to data sources, business logic and services.
The book provides you with unique insight into the benefits of engineering web and mobile applications with an agile model driven approach. Concepts are explained through intuitive examples, drawn from real-world applications. The authors accompany you in the voyage from visual specifications of requirements to design and code production. The book distills more than twenty years of practice and provides a mix of methodological principles and concrete and immediately applicable techniques. Dr. Richard M. Soley, chairman of the OMG, wrote the foreword of the book.

You can buy the book in paperback (on Amazon or any other bookstore) or electronic format (Kindle on Amazon; PDF e-book on Elsevier store).

If you are looking for some basic introduction to model-driven engineering, you can check out this book: Model-Driven Software Engineering in Practice (by Brambilla, Cabot and Wimmer).

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IFML – Interaction Flow Modeling Language 1.0 – My tutorial on UI and UX modeling & design at ICWE 2014

This year, ICWE – International Conference on Web Engineering, took place in Toulouse, France.

Given the upcoming adoption by the OMG – Object Management Group of IFML, I decided to give a tutorial on it there. IFML, the Interaction Flow Modeling Language (IFML) is designed for expressing content, user interaction and control behaviour of the front-end of software applications, as well as the binding to the persistence and business logic layers. IFML is the missing piece for modeling the front end of software applications and perfectly complements other modeling dimensions in broad system modeling projects. Therefore, IFML works best when integrated with other modeling languages in the MDA suite, such as UML and BPMN. This tutorial illustrates the basic concepts of IFML, presents the design best practices and integration with other modelling languages, and discusses some industrial experiences (also featuring quantitative measures of productivity) achieved by the companion tool WebRatio. At the end of the tutorial, attendees will get a general knowledge about IFML (they will be able to design simple models and to derive models from existing interfaces), will be able to associate front-end design with system modelling at large, will see the associated MDE tool WebRatio at work, and will get a glimpse of real-life industrial applications developed for large enterprises. This will let them appreciate the advantages of a model-driven development approach at work within large-scale industrial project.

Here are the slides of my tutorial:

And here are some pictures taken by some attendees:


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IFML 1.0: Interaction Flow Modeling Language approved by the OMG

After three years of work, IFML 1.0 is finally approved by the OMG!
The Interaction Flow Modeling Language was actually adopted one year ago, in March 2013, as Beta specification by the Object Management Group (OMG). Since then, the IFML Finalization Task Force worked hard to bring the specification to perfection.

The Object Management Group (OMG) Architecture Board approves the new IFML 1.0 standard on March 2014 in Reston, VA
The OMG Architecture Board gathered for approval of IFML. Among others, you can see Andrew Watson (OMG), Juergen Boldt (OMG), and representatives of IBM, 88Solutions, Adaptive, Fujitsu,  PrismTech and others.

Along the path, we got valuable feedback from implementors of the standard, spanning DSL tool vendors implementing the notation, UML tool vendors implementing the UML profile, and our own developers at WebRatio implementing the commercial industry-strenght modeling tool and code generators, as well as a bunch of opensource IFML editors. We also got feedback from WebRatio customers, which contributed to improve the language notation too.

All this summed up to 77 issues formally submitted to the OMG and subsequently addressed by the task force. The specification document, as well as the machine readable files (XMIs) have been cleaned up and prepared for final publication.
As a last step, the finalized version of the standard has been presented at the ADTF and at the Architecture Board of the OMG during the March technical meeting in Reston, VA, USA.
Version 1.0 is now officially adopted by the OMG. It’s just a matter of a few weeks before the final, copyedited version of the specification will be officially available on the OMG servers.
For documentation purposes, here is a snapshot of the program
Meanwhile, you can have a look at the sneak preview of the final version of IFML. Further details are available on the official site.

As Stefano Butti, CEO of WebRatio said, IFML is one of the three biggest leaps in WebRatio history (together with the move to the US and the selection of WebRatio as Gartner Cool Vendor). Other vendors have already declared interest and/or started developing some modeling solution based on IFML. We look forward to wide adoption of this new standard, thanks also to the integration with other modeling aspects such as business modeling (with BPMN) and system modeling (with UML, SoaML, SysML, …)!

At the Reston event we also gave away the first copies ever of the very nice IFML Cheat Sheet (or Quick Reference Guide) prepared by WebRatio based on the official specification document.
The cheat sheet is available for free on the learning portal of WebRatio.

IFML CheatSheet - Quick Reference Guide and examples
The IFML cheat sheet: Quick Reference Guide and Examples (on the back side, not shown here).

Here is a small photo gallery of the event location, the WebRatio booth and the program of the AB plenary where IFML was adopted.

WebRatio boothOMG AB agenda for March 2014


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Sneak peek at IFML 1.0 (the Interaction Flow Modeling Language) by the OMG

IFML 1.0 is almost here!

As you may know by now, the OMG standard Interaction Flow Modeling Language (IFML) is designed for expressing the content, user interaction and control behaviour of the front-end (aka view) of software applications.

And if you don’t know anything about IFML, you can just visit or have a look at this introductory presentation:

The round of refinement applied to IFML Beta 1 by the finalization task force (FTF) in OMG has been closed this week, as reported on the IFML OMG wiki.
The task force has addressed 77 issues raised by users and implementors in these months, and has compiled a new version of the IFML metamodel, UML profile, and specification document, currently labeled as Beta 2. This version is the candidate for the issuance of IFML 1.0.
Since I’ve been leading the task force efforts and I know how much improvement has been put in this new version of the language, I’m happy to share with you a preview of this new version, well before the official one will be released (tentative release date is April 2014)

A short summary of the changes is available in this presentation: Interaction Flow Modeling Language: updates on the Beta2 version – by the OMG IFML FTF.

The machine readable files are available too (metamodel, UML profile, and diagram interchange). Additional ancillary files (MagicDraw model sources, figures and so on) are available too.
Here is an example of IFML diagram you can draw with the new version. For instance, you can distinguish between throwing events (black circles) and catching events (while circles), and you have new concepts, such as «Menu».


IFML diagram example describing the UI of a mailbox, with possible actions on the messages, and event-driven on-screen notification of action results.

Related posts:

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IFML – the Interaction Flow Modeling Language, moves on to Beta2

After 6 months from its adoption, IFML moves on to a new, cleaned up version, named IFML Beta2.
The new version is the result of the feedback collected in these months from our partners, customers, researchers and developers, that are putting IFML at work in tools (primarily WebRatio) and at customers. This reality check phase is essential in the OMG adoption policy, as it acts as a validation for the standard.
For IFML, we collected (and addressed) 70+ issues. Although this meant a lot work, we are glad we got so much feedback.
The novelties of IFML Beta2 have been presented at OMG’s Technical Meeting in Santa Clara, CA, on December 11, 2013. They span various levels of details, starting from typo fixing, to better textual descriptions of the concepts, to solution of small mistakes in the metamodel and UML profile, up to some changes in the language concepts and notation. The latter are the most important aspects and they include:

  • Catching and Throwing events: the role of events in the model are now distinguished by two new concepts and different notations (catching events are represented by white circles, throwing events by black circles) 
  • Jump and Landing events: for letting throwing events of type Jump explicitly reference the target Landing events in the models 
  •  Menu ViewContainer: for describing interactive menus 
  • Module Definitions and Packages: for allowing defining reusable modules 
  • Generalization of the binding to the business logic and to the content model, thus letting IFML models reference also models different from UML ones 
  • Reference to BPMN: IFML modules can now explicitly refer to BPMN activities (meaning that the IFML model represents the implementation of the business activity). 
  • Context variables: variables can now be associated with the user context, for preserving the state of the application. 
  • Furthermore, the explicit list of allowed extensible concepts has been added. 

The status of the specification and the main metamodel changes are summarized in the presentation here below:

The new IFML Beta2 version will be released officially by OMG soon. The specification document will be available on the OMG site (I’ll let you know as soon as it is published).

Interaction Flow Modeling Language RFP issued at OMG

WebRatio Cubes roaming San Francisco
while I was engaged in the approval of the
IFML RFP in Santa Clara, CA.

After 9 months of participation to the OMG meetings, intensive interactions with stakeholders, and interesting feedback from big vendors and users (including IBM, Microsoft, Thales, NoMagic, SoftTeam, and others), OMG issued the official request for proposal (RFP) for IFML (Interaction Flow Modeling Language), a domain-specific modeling language for describing model-driven specification of user interaction. The RFP has been proposed for issuance by the ADTF (Analysis and Design Task Force), and then approved by the AB (Architecture Board) during the last technical meeting in Santa Clara, CA.

The IFML RFP will be the framework where we propose our contribution to OMG standardization based on the extensive 10-year experience on WebML and WebRatio.

If you want more details, you can go and find the requirements directly on the official RFP document, which is publicly available on OMG servers at the url:

Or, if you want more personal insights, you can read my complete post on the WebRatio blog.

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Canonical XMI, MEF, IMM, SIMF, FACESEM. Highlights from the Salt Lake City OMG ADTF meeting, June 2011

I attended the OMG meeting in Salt Lake City from June 22 to June 24. Here are a few highlights from the Analysis and Design Task Force (ADTF) meeting I attended on Wednesday 22.

An RFC for a canonical XMI format
Pete Rivett is issuing today a RFC for a canonical XMI format at OMG.
I think this is an extremely valuable proposal, because you all know that the complete XMI syntax  is so complex and open that basically allow to define so many “XMI dialects” that it’s actually impossible to talk about interoperability of XMI documents among different tools.
Among the various aspects addressed by the proposal, the most crucial are:

  • a set of constraints reducing the number of options in the headline formats: a root XMI element is required, all properties must be specified as XML elements except for the ones in XMI namespace  (e.g., xmi:id), uuids are mandatory, and so on
  • the compliance levels that are allowed are: Canonical XMI Schema, Canonical XMI Export, and Canonical XMI Import

IMM – Information Management MetamodelPete Rivett also discussed IMM, a (revised) proposal to an RFP for bridging and mapping different specification languages covering the information management at large.
In particular, the scope of IMM covers: the business world (ER), the data base world (Relational),  the application world (XML Schema, UML, LDAP), traceability, and other models (ontologies, Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Rules).
The work on this is huge and ongoing (e.g., the LDAP coverage is completely missing)

SIMF – Semantic Information Modeling for Federation RFP
Cory Casanave proposed an RFP called SIMF that addresses “the data problem”, i.e., the issue of federating different systems and architectures that should share the same information. This includes all the issues of information sharing, interoperability, shared services, and so on. It might be considered the problem of the decade in terms of impact, cost, and volume both in private enterprises and public administrations.
In terms of CIM/PIM/PSM layers, SIMF focuses on CIM/PIM, by defining models and mappings between levels and within each level. SIMF comprises a kernel model, a kernel of Common Logic.
SIMF includes a language for specifying Conceptual Domain Models (CDM) and a language to express Logical Information Model (LIM) for describing data context, data structures and viewpoints. There  might be overlap between CDM and LIM. Model Bridging Relations (MBR) aims at semantically relate similar information concepts.
Expected submissions shall provide both visual and textual concrete sintaxes for CDM, LIM and MBR.
SIMF itself should be federated.
The feedback on this proposal highlighted that more than a standard on this (which is partly covered by other standards already) a set of other artefacts are needed: a methodology, possibly a book, and some tools. We will see..

WebML and a RFP for User Interaction Modeling
Stefano Butti and I presented our experience with WebML and WebRatio and we opened a discussion on the need and the scope required for a user interaction modeling language. More details on this initiative can be found in my previous post here and Stefano Butti’s post here.
The slides we presented this time are publicly available and can be browsed below. Other information on the outcome of the discussion in Salt Lake City is available in another Stefano’s post here.WebML for OMG

Once again, we got good feedback from the audience. Based on this, we decided to:

  • opt for an RFP process
  • work on and circulate a first version of the RFP in the upcoming summer and discuss/issue the RFP in the next meeting
  • focus the RFP on general Web, Mobile and interactive “business” GUIs

Metamodel Extension Facility RFP

Steve Cook (Microsoft) presented the MEF proposal. The motivation of this stands  Profiles have a lot of drawbacks: ambiguous purpose wrt metamodels, poor integration with OCL, weak expressive power (e.g., stereotypes do not support all features of MOF classes), applicability only to UML (e.g., BPMN is out), filtering not used, and so on.
The RFP is quite challenging because the proposals should not overlap with MOF, support fixed-model tools, and also MOF-based tools.
A quick summary by Steve himself is available on his blog.

Foundation for the Agile Creation and Enactment of Software Engineering Methods RFP
Ed Seidewitz presented a revised version of the RFP proposed at last meeting as ESSENCE. The RFP is co-authored by Ivar Jacobson and Arne Berre too.

Ed Seidewitz presenting at OMG ADTF in Salt Lake City.

The bottom line here is to foster specification of software engineering processes by providing a simple, easy to use specification language that is more agile than the existing proposals (like the SPEM and ISO ones). This would help practitioners design their own SE processes, without the need of involving expert methodologists (and consequent long and expensive design cycles).
Personally, I think this is definitely needed in the software engineering community and also for teaching purposes.

Other topics that have been addressed include: Web Architectures for ODM (by Elisa Kendall), creating an OMG standard UML profile for NIEM RFP (by Vijay Mehra and David Bray), Common Terminology Services Release 2 (Harold Solbrig), and Foundation for the Agile Creation and Enactment of Software Engineering Methods RFP (Ed Seidewitz, Arne J. Berre, and Ivar Jacobson).

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Image of Salt Lake City: CC by Kwong Yee Cheng