Keynote speech on User Interaction Modeling at Modelsward 2015 in Angers

On February 10, 2015 I gave a keynote at Modelsward in Angers, France.

The speech focuses on the modeling of software UIs through graphical domain-specific languages and in particular shows the new standard adopted by OMG called IFML (Interaction Flow Modeling Language) at work. My presentation illustrates the basic concepts of IFML, presents the design best practices and integration with other modelling languages, and discusses some large-scale industrial experiences (also featuring quantitative measures of productivity) achieved through IFML and associated full code generation techniques.

The full video of my presentation (1 hour long, if you can endure it!) is available on Vimeo thanks to the Insticc service. See it here too:

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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IFML is now adopted and published by OMG, Wikipedia, and YouTube

Along with the continuing consolidation process of the Interaction Flow Modeling Language (IFML) within OMG, we are now starting our effort of documenting and disseminating IFML.

The three most recent resources I wish to point at are:

  • Official publishing of IFML in the OMG specification catalog
  • A new Wikipedia page on the language
  • A new demonstration video on the ongoing implementation effort of an opensource IFML editor

OMG Publishing 

OMG has now officially published IFML in its list of specifications:

and the official specs are now reachable through the official URL of the standard at:

IFML on Wikipedia 

The Wikipedia page regarding IFML is now online at:

The page summarizes the focus and content of the language, as well as the benefits that developers can gain by adopting it.

Demo video

The demonstration video of the new IFML editor that we are developing is available on YouTube.
This implementation consists of an opensource IFML editor based on Eclipse, EMF/GMF and the Graphiti API. At the moment the tool is under development, but it will be released as opensource Eclipse Project as soon as it reaches a reasonable level of completeness. The tool also includes the mappings from the IFML abstract concepts to the platform- specific concepts of Java Swing, Microsoft WPF, and HTML, as described in the IFML specification.

The modeling of the IFML diagrams for the UI part can be complemented with (ex- ecutable) UML diagrams according to fUML specifications combined with Alf scripts for the backend business logic.

A sneak preview of the tool and generation features is reported in the video, also shown below:

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IFML on its way towards OMG standardization

The Interaction Flow Modeling Language (IFML) is now one step closer to standardization by Object Management Group (OMG). On February 18 the revised version of the IFML specification has been submitted to OMG by a consortium lead by WebRatio and comprising also Fujitsu, Model Driven Solutions, Softeam, and Thales.
The new submission has improved a lot with respect to the previous version. It now includes:

  • the MOF metamodel of IFML
  • the XMI exchange format
  • the UML profile specification for IFML
  • the Diagram Definition and Diagram Interchange specifications for IFML 
  • a set of examples of IFML models, including: an online email management system inspired by Gmail and an online bookstore site with cart and checkout management
  • examples of combined usage of IFML and UML modeling
  • a set of exemplary mappings of IFML to specific platforms, such as Java Swing, .net WPF (Windows Presentation Framework), and HTML5

IFML in a nutshell

An IFML diagram consists of one or more top-level view containers, representing UI windows or Web pages. A view container can contain view components, which denote the publication of content or interface elements for data entry (e.g., input forms). A view component can have input and output parameters. A view container and a view component can be associated with events, to denote that they support the user’s interaction. Events can trigger navigation flows and data flows.
To get the flavor of the new IFML notation, I’m sharing here a very simple example.

In the UI mockup shown here, we have a user interface with a list of artists and, upon selection of one item, the visualization of the details of the selected artist.

The corresponding IFML model is shown below: a container called Artists includes two ViewComponents, a list and a detail about artists. The navigation flow that goes from the event denoting the selection of an item of the Artist Index view component to the Artist view component (showing the selection details), has a parameter binding that associates an output parameter of the Artists Index view component with an input parameter of the Artist view component.

IFML resources

If you want sneak peek on the IFML language, you can look at the presentation we gave at Code Generation 2012
If you instead want have a look at the current state of the specification, here you can find the IFML specification document we submitted. This version is still a work in progress document and will be subject to the Architecture Board of OMG. We also look forward to comments and opinions from prospect users, adopters, and tool implementors. So, you are welcome to share your ideas! 

The IFML specification document is online on the site.

Additional information are available at and on other posts in this blog. 

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