Software & Systems Modeling

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 2421–2439 | Cite as

Meta3: a code generator framework for domain-specific languages

  • Gábor KövesdánEmail author
  • László Lengyel
Regular Paper


In software development, domain-specific languages (DSLs) are often applied for specific or repetitive tasks. For executable DSLs, a model interpreter can be developed to run DSL programs. Nevertheless, it is more widespread to generate code in a general-purpose programming language. A properly chosen DSL expresses the original problem more naturally for both domain and information technology experts, and thus, this approach makes the whole development process, especially requirements engineering and requirements analysis, more efficient and less prone to human errors. There are code generator frameworks and so-called language workbenches available that make the development of code generators for DSLs easier. In this paper, we report on our own code generator framework, called Meta3. Meta3 is based on our code generator development experience. We believe that this experience report will be useful for developers of code generators and language workbenches interested in building more flexible and robust code generators as well as better tools that support the construction of the latter.


Domain-specific modeling Code generation Architecture 



This work was performed in the frame of FIEK_16-1-2016-0007 project, implemented with the support provided from the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund of Hungary, financed under the FIEK_16 funding scheme. This work was partially supported by the CONCERTO (ART-2012-333053) EU-Artemis project, co-financed by the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking and the Hungarian National Research, Development and Innovation Fund. This paper was supported by the János Bolyai Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and supported by the ÚNKP-16-4-III. New National Excellence Program of the Ministry of Human Capacities.


  1. 1.
    Fowler, M.: Domain-Specific Languages. Addison-Wesley, Boston (2010)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Aho, A.V., Lam, M.S., Sethi, R., Ullman, J.D.: Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools, 2nd edn. Addison-Wesley, Boston (2006)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bettini, L.: Implementing Domain-Specific Languages with Xtext and Xtend. Packt Publishing, Birmingham (2013)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kuhn, A., Murphy, G.C., Thompson, C.A.: An exploratory study of forces and frictions affecting large-scale model-driven development. In: Model Driven Engineering Languages and Systems. MODELS 2012. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 7590. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg (2012)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kövesdán, G., Asztalos, M., Lengyel, L.: Modeling cloud messaging with a domain-specific modeling language. In: CloudMDE, A Workshop to Explore Combining Model-Driven Engineering and Cloud Computing. In Conjunction with MODELS 2014 (2014)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Steinberg, D., Budinsky, F., Paternostro, M., Merks, E.: EMF: Eclipse Modeling Framework, 2nd edn. Addison-Wesley Professional, Boston (2008)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Parr, T.: The Definitive ANTLR 4 Reference, 2nd edn. Pragmatic Bookshelf, Dallas (2013)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kövesdán, G., Asztalos, M., Lengyel, L.: Polymorphic templates. In: XM 2014 Extreme Modeling Workshop, in Conjunction with MODELS 2014 (2014)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Voelter, M.: Jenerator-generative programming for Java. In: Workshop on Generative Programming, OOPSLA (2001)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Sugar4j Website. Accessed 27 Mar 2018
  11. 11.
    Baracchi, L., Mazzini, S., Puri, S., Vardanega, T.: Lessons learned in a journey toward correct-by-construction model-based development. In: Reliable Software Technologies—Ada-Europe. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 9695, pp. 113–128 (2016)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bergmann, G., Dávid, I., Hegedűs, Á., Horváth, Á., Ráth, I., Ujhelyi, Z., Varró, D.: Viatra 3: a reactive model transformation platform. In: Theory and Practice of Model Transformations. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 9152, pp. 101–110 (2015)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Frankel, D.S.: Model Driven Architecture: Applying MDA to Enterprise Computing. Wiley, New York (2003)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Thomas, D.: UML—Unified or Universal Modeling Language? UML2, OCL, MOF, EDOC—the emperor has too many clothes. J. Object Technol. 2(1), 7–12 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kelly, S., Tolvanen, J.-P.: Domain-Specific Modeling: Enabling Full Code Generation. Wiley-IEEE Computer Society, New York (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Jörges, S.: Construction and Evolution of Code Generators—A Model-Driven and Service-Oriented Approach. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 7747. Springer, Berlin (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Edwards, G., Brun, Y., Medvidovic, N.: Automated analysis and code generation for domain-specific models. In: Working IEEE/IFIP Conference in Software Architecture, IEEE, 2012, pp. 161–170. IEEE (2012)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Reiter, T., Kapsammer, E., Retschitzegger, W., Schwinger, W., Stumptner, M.: A generator framework for domain-specific model transformation languages. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems (ICEIS), Paphos (2006)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Schmitt, C., Kuckuk, S., Kostler, H., Hannig, F., Teich, J.: An evaluation of domain-specific language technologies for code generation. In: Proceedings of International Conference on Computational Science and its Applications. IEEE Computer SocietyGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Erdweg, S., van der Storm, T., Völter, M., Tratt, L., Bosman, R., Cook, W., Gerritsen, A., Hulshout, A., Kelly, S., Loh, A., Konat, G., Molina, P.J., Palatnik, M., Pohjonen, R., Schindler, E., Schindler, K., Solmi, R., Vergu, V., Visser, E., van der Woning, J.: Evaluating and comparing language workbenches: existing results and benchmarks for the future. Comput. Lang. Syst. Struct. 44, 24–47 (2015)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Bravenboer, M., Kalleberg, K.T., Vermaas, R., Visser, E.: Stratego/XT 0.17. A language and toolset for program transformation. Sci. Comput. Program. 72(1–2), 52–70 (2008)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Visser, E.: Declare your own language. Online book. Accessed 27 Mar 2018
  23. 23.
    Naujokat, S., Lybecait, M., Kopetzki, D., Steffen, B.: CINCO: a simplicity-driven approach to full generation of domain-specific graphical modeling tools. Int. J. Softw. Tools Technol. Transf. (2015). Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Eclipse Graphiti Website. Accessed 27 Mar 2018
  25. 25.
    The Meta Programming System Website. Accessed 27 Mar 2018
  26. 26.
    MetaEdit+ Website. Accessed 27 Mar 2018
  27. 27.
    The Visual Modeling and Transformation System Website. Accessed 27 Mar 2018
  28. 28.
    DMS Software Reengineering Toolkit Website. Accessed 27 Mar 2018
  29. 29.
    Ensō Website. Accessed 27 Mar 2018
  30. 30.
    Rascal Website. Accessed 27 Mar 2018
  31. 31.
    AnyDSL Website. Accessed 27 Mar 2018

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Budapest University of Technology and EconomicsBudapestHungary

Personalised recommendations