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MoDisco: A Model-Driven Software Modernization Framework

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Hugo Bruneliere, Jordi Cabot, Frédéric Jouault from the AtlanMod Research Team and Frederic Madiot from MIA Software recently published a short introduction on the MoDisco project, a generic and extensible open source reverse engineering solution. They explain:

Almost all companies are facing the problematic of having to manage, maintain or even replace their legacy systems. Many times, the first problem they need to solve is to really understand what are the functionalities, architecture, data, etc of all these often huge legacy applications As a consequence, reverse engineering still remains a major challenge for software engineering today.
The major challenge is to be able to discover and understand the functionalities, architecture, data... of the legacy systems and reverse engineer them into a meaningful representation that can be later on manipulated and re-implemented. 
MoDisco intensively uses MDE principles and techniques to improve existing approaches for reverse engineering.

They explain that one of the key issue in reverse engineering is the heterogeneity of legacy systems and one of the key goals of MoDisco is to:

Model Driven Reverse Engineering (MDRE) is about switching from the heterogeneous world of implementation technologies to the homogeneous world of models.

 MoDisco is built around two phases: Model Discovery and Model Understanding. 

[Model Discovery] consists in obtaining a model that represents a view on the legacy system (or at least parts of it) from its source code, raw data, available documentation, etc. This model provides a uniform representation of the system, which conforms to a given metamodel expressing the chosen viewpoint.
During [the Model Understanding] phase, the content of these models is analyzed and computed , in particular using model transformations, until we obtain the final desired representation/data (i.e. source code, documentation, structured data, etc) of/on the system

MoDisco is an Eclipse open source project which provides an extensible and customizable MDRE framework to develop model-driven tools supporting different reverse engineering scenarios such as legacy migration or modernization, quality assurance, retro-documentation, etc.

Today, MoDisco components include:

  • a model browser (for large models),
  • a model extension and customization mechanism,
  • a model query manager,
  • a discoverer manager and associated workflow,
  • metrics visualization facilities.

MoDisco also provides and uses concrete implementations of Knowledge Discovery Metamodel (KDM) and Software Metrics Metamodel (SMM). It also offers extended technology-specific support for Java reverse engineering (including a full Java metamodel and corresponding discoverer) and XML reverse engineering (for some JEE framework configuration files such as Struts or Hibernate ones).

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