Bridging WebML to model-driven engineering: from document type definitions to meta object facility
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Meta-models are a prerequisite for model-driven engineering (MDE) in general and consequently for model-driven web engineering in particular. Various web modelling languages, however, are not based on meta-models and standards, like object management group's prominent meta object facility (MOF). Instead they define proprietary languages rather focused on notational aspects. Thus, MDE techniques and tools cannot be deployed for such languages preventing to exploit the full potential of MDE in terms of standardised storage, exchange and transformation of models. The WebML web modelling language is one example that does not yet rely on an explicit meta-model in the sense of MDE. Instead, it is defined in terms of a document type definition (DTD), and implicitly within the accompanying tool. Code generation then has to rely on model-to-code transformations based of extensible stylesheet language transformations (XSLT). We propose a meta-model for WebML to bridge WebML to MDE. To establish such a meta-model, instead of remodelling WebML's meta-model from scratch, a semi-automatic approach is provided that allows generating MOF-based meta-models on the basis of DTDs. The meta-model for WebML accomplishes the following aims: first, it represents an initial step towards a transition to employ MDE techniques within the WebML design methodology. Second, the provision of a MOF-based meta-model ensures interoperability with other MDE tools. Third, it represents an important step towards a common meta-model for Web modelling in future.