Model-driven engineering

Model-driven engineering (MDE) aims at defining models, methods, and tools suitable for the precise and efficient representation of, and reasoning about, software-intensive systems. MDE aims to encompass the entire life-cycle of a system, according to various dimensions such as system requirements, functionalities, data, processing, dependencies, architecture, and infrastructure.

Models, methods, and tools together aim at supporting software engineers and other stakeholders of the system over the entire life-cycle, from requirements elicitation to implementation and maintenance. This support facilitates all system-related tasks and decision-making involved in, among others, transformations, verification, import/export, round trip engineering, visualization, cooperation, integration, and versioning.  Moreover, MDE studies Domain Specific Modelling Languages (DSML) best suited for describing specific human and business activities.

In MDE, models and methods are considered as first-class objects that can be studied for their own sake. This reification permits to develop generic tools, methods, and processes.




  • Metamodelling & DSML techniques. Methods and tools to support graphical and textual domain-specific modelling languages (DSML).
  • Model-based code generation. Generative grammar are used to generate the code from models in a declarative way with round-trip possibilities. Wrapper and API generators support database design, evolution and migration processes.
  • Model transformation. A theoretical foundation has been provided for transformational methods in data engineering and software architecture design. In both cases, generic model transformations form the basic techniques providing a formal definition of information system design, maintenance and evolution processes.
  • Cognitive effectiveness. The tuning of modelling language notations to obtain diagrams that can be understood quickly, effortlessly and accurately are studied 
  • Architectural model engineering. We develop methods to support the design of both coarse- and fine-grained software architectures by taking the infrastructure into account.
  • Models for product lines.  Methods to model variability and to adapt software systems to specific requirements or configurations have been designed. They yield cost-efficient product lines.
  • Quality Models. Methodology, metamodel and tool supporting the generation of operational quality models tailored for specific contexts allowing the monitoring of the different models and artefacts throughout software development and evolution.


Scientific results


PReCISE has developed (1) a metamodelling language to specify DSML, a declarative language to define the concrete syntax (textual and graphical) of DSML, (2) a DSML to model software architectures and their infrastructure, (3) a theoretical framework defining formal transformations of data models, (4) generative and transformational techniques and tools for co-evolving databases and related programs, (5) a method for modelling distributed software architectures, (6) a language to model features. These results have been widely published.


Industrial results


A DSML editor offers a graphical environment to define textual and graphical multi-paradigm DSML and to quickly develop their editor. The wrapper generators have been used successfully in industrial database migration projects, in collaboration with the ReveR spin-off. The database API generator is at the core of the DEASY framework, now available as a plugin of DB-MAIN.



  • Selected Recent Publications 
    • Jean-Luc HAINAUT, Anne-France BROGNEAUX, Anthony CLEVE. Healthcare Information System Modelling, in Handbook of Research on ICTs for Healthcare and Social Services: Developments and Applications, 2012
    • Andreas CLASSEN, Quentin BOUCHER, Patrick HEYMANS, A Text-based Approach to Feature Modelling: Syntax and Semantics of TVL, in Science of Computer Programming, volume 76, issue 12, pp. 1130-1143, 2011
    • Mohamed BOUKHEBOUZE, Youssef AMGHAR, Aicha-Nabila BENHARKAT, Zakaria MAAMAR, A rule-based approach to model and verify flexible business processes, in International Journal of Business Process Integration and Management (IJBPIM), volume 5, issue 4, 2011
    • Eun-Young KANG, Pierre-Yves SCHOBBENS, Paul PETTERSSON. Verifying functional behaviors of automotive products in EAST-ADL2 using UPPAAL-PORT, in 30th International Conference on Computer Safety, Reliability and Security, 2011 
    • Fabian GILSON, Vincent Englebert. Rationale, decisions and alternatives traceability for architecture design, in Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Software Architecture: Companion Volume (ECSA '11), 2011
    • Mathieu ACHER, Anthony CLEVE, Philippe COLLET, Philippe MERLE, Laurence DUCHIEN, Philippe LAHIRE. Reverse Engineering Architectural Feature Models, in Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Software Architecture (ECSA 2011), pp. 220-235, 2011
    • Mohamed BOUKHEBOUZE, Waldemar Pires Ferreira NETO, Lim ERBIN. Yet Another BPEL Extension for User Interactions, in Proceedings of the ER worksops, 2011
    • Mohamed BOUKHEBOUZE, Waldemar Pires Ferreira NETO, Amanuel KOSHIMA, Philippe THIRAN, Vincent ENGLEBERT. Support Tool for the Definition & Enactment of the UsiXML Methods, in Software Support for User Interface Description Language - UIDL'2011, collection Intertact'2011 workshops, 2011
    • Amanuel KOSHIMA, Vincent ENGLEBERT, Philippe THIRAN. Distributed collaborative model editing framework for domain speci c modeling tools, in Proceedings of the 2011 6th IEEE International Conference on Global Software Engineering, collection IEEE Proceedings, 2011
    • Fabian GILSON, Vincent Englebert. Towards Handling Architecture Design, Variability and Evolution with Model Transformations , in Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Variability Modeling of Software-Intensive Systems (VaMoS'11), pp. 39-48, 2011
    • Nicolas GENON, Patrick HEYMANS, Daniel AMYOT. Analysing the Cognitive Effectiveness of the BPMN 2.0 Visual Notation , in Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Software Language Engineering (SLE'10).  pp. 377-396, 2010
    • Arnaud HUBAUX, Quentin BOUCHER, Hermann HARTMANN, Raphaël MICHEL, Patrick HEYMANS, Evaluating a Textual Feature Modelling Language: Four Industrial Case Studies, in Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Software Language Engineering (SLE'10). 2010
    • Daniel MOODY, Patrick HEYMANS, Raimundas MATULEVICIUS. Visual syntax does matter: improving the cognitive effectiveness of the i* visual notation, in Requirements Engineering, volume 5, issue 2, 2010
    • Quentin BOUCHER, Andreas CLASSEN, Paul FABER, Patrick HEYMANS. Introducing TVL, a Text-based Feature Modelling Language, in Proceedings of the Fourth International Workshop on Variability Modelling of Software-intensive Systems (VaMoS'10), pp. 159-162, 2010
    • Victor ANAYA, Giuseppe BERIO, Mounira HARZALLAH, Patrick HEYMANS, Raimundas MATULEVICIUS, Andreas OPDAHL, Hervé PANETTO, Maria Jose VERDECHO. The Unified Enterprise Modelling Language - Overview and Further Work, in Computers in Industry, volume 61, issue 2, 2009
    • Raimundas MATULEVICIUS, Nicolas MAYER, Haris MOURATIDIS, Eric DUBOIS, Patrick HEYMANS, Nicolas GENON. Adapting Secure Tropos for Security Risk Management during the Early Phases of Information Systems Development, in Lecture Notes in Computer Science, International Conference on Advanced Information Systems Engineering (CAiSE'08), 2008
    • Vincent ENGLEBERT, Patrick HEYMANS. Towards More Extensible MetaCASE Tools, in Lecture Notes in Computer Science, International Conference on Advanced Information Systems Engineering (CAiSE'07), volume 4495, pp. 454-468; 2007
    • Methodologies
      • IODASS

    Products and services

    • MetaDone, a metacase tool to create Domain Specific Modelling Languages editors.
    • DB-MAIN, a programmable data centered CASE platform
    • TVL : a Text-based Variability Language
    • UI-BPEL Designer: Eclipse plug-in for designing interactive BPEL processes 


    Contributing projects

    • DiCoMEF (Distributed Collaborative Model Editing Framework)
    • UsiXML (User interface eXtensible Markup Language)
    • Towards Cognitively Efficient Business Process Modelling Languages
    • GISELE (Model-driven management of care pathways)
    • IRIS (Integration of Research in Information Systems)
    • MoVES  (Fundamental Issues in Software Engineering: Modelling, Verification and Evolution of Software)
    • IODASS (A transformational approach for distributed component-based system architectures)
    • SKwyRL (Socio-Intentional Architectures for Knowledge Systems and Requirements Elicitation)
    • METADONE (A graphical environment for domain specific graphical modeling languages)
    • DB-MAIN (Transformation-based database engineering)


    Former projects

    • CERUNA-MPE (Strategic Business-IT alignment : a model-based approach)
    • CIGMOL (Comparison and Integration of Goal Modelling Languages)
    • MEMODIA (MEthods and MOdels for DIstributed Architectures)
    • UEML (Unified Enterprise Modelling Language)
    • A Delegation-Based Approach for Designing Secure Multi-Agent Systems
    • Ontology-driven and Agent-oriented Enterprise Modeling
    • IDW (Integrated Approach for Database and Workflow Design)
    • D-side (Decision Support Tool on Basis of Parameterized Measurements)
    • Artist (Network of Excellence in Embedded Systems Design)
    • Requirements Engineering for Auction-based E-Commerce Information Systems
    • InterOP (Interoperability Research for Networked Enterprises Applications and Software)
    • ReQuest (Semi-automated generation of database through business objects)
    • PLENTY (Product Line ENgineering of food TraceabilitY systems)
    • MODIVOC (Distributed Mobile Systems with Voice Interfaces)
    • YBO (Relating inter-agent and intra-agent specifications : the case of life sequence chart)
    • AgentLink (Agent-based computing)
    • S&T (Activity Modelling and Object Technology for Cooperative Information Systems)
    • ModelAge (A common formal model of cooperating intelligent agents)


    Senior members