The OMG marches on

The Object Management Group (OMG) is undoubtedly one of the most successful standards bodies that the IT industry has seen and it has done considerable work in furthering the cause of standards. Last week it made a number of important decisions.


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The OMG marches on
The Object Management Group (OMG) is undoubtedly one of the most successful standards bodies that the IT industry has seen and it has done considerable work in furthering the cause of standards in general, as well as defining particular standards such as CORBA and UML.

Last week, the OMG had a major meeting at Orlando in Florida, and it made a number of important decisions. In particular, the group's Analysis and Design Task Force voted to recommend adoption of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) 2.0 Infrastructure, Object Constraint Language, and Diagram Interchange Protocol.

What this means is that, in effect, these specifications have now taken their final form, even though this is only a recommendation at this stage. Further, the adoption of revision 2.0 of the UML Superstructure is expected at the next OMG meeting in June.

This may require some explanation. UML 2.0 is basically about tidying up some of the internal structures of UML and supporting MDA (model driven architecture) and it is rather less about new functionality per se.

Because this was such a big job it was split into two parts: Infrastructure and Superstructure, where the former is concerned with internal representation and the latter is concerned with visualization (that is, what the various diagrams look like). In the case of the Superstructure there will be some additional diagrams supported in version 2.0. It should be note that that the Diagram Interchange Protocol is really an extension to the existing XMI (XML Metadata Exchange) designed to make the transfer of models easier.

Apart from the UML Superstructure, the next meeting of the OMG is also expected to finalise revision 2.0 of the MetaObject Facility (MOF). The fact that both of these standards will then be in version 2.0 is no accident as a part of the OMG's consideration is to ensure necessary correlations between MOF and the UML infrastructure at lower levels, while the UML Superstructure builds on it at the top. According to the OMG, MOF and UML combine to form a complete modeling universe, supporting analysis and design on a family of tools from multiple vendors interoperating via the XMI standard.

Apart from these developments, the OMG also announced a number of other new recommendations including a number of distributed computing infrastructure specifications including a data distribution framework for real-time systems; an interoperability framework connecting the CORBA notification service with the Java Messaging Service; and a foundation for modeling what it calls Super Distributed Objects.

The OMG describes these as "the numerous networked devices that are becoming ubiquitous around businesses and homes". Not in my home they're not. There were also some specialist recommendations from The Space Task Force, the Finance Domain Task Force and the Life Science Research task force.

What is notable by its absence its anything from the Business Rules Group, which is concerned with Business Process Modeling (BPM).

For some time there has been discussion about extensions to UML to specifically cater for BPM and there are some facilities for supporting such although these are by no means comprehensive. However, as the OMG points out, the business process space is in a state of flux right now, with proponents of different approaches currently arguing their case.

It looks as if the OMG is intending to stand above the fray and aims to support whatever emerges as a winner.


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