Model-to-Model Transformation

Inspired by ETL and ATL, Sigma provide a dedicated internal DSL that combines imperative features with declarative rule-based execution scheme into a hybrid M2M transformation language. Currently, the M2M transformation is a proof of concept on how a hybrid M2T transformation can be achieved in Scala internal DSL.

There are two flavors of the M2M transformation DSL:

  • Reflection-based - using reflection to execute the transformation rules.
  • ( experimental ) Type-safe - using regular method invocation to execute the transformation.

Reflection-based Transformation

In reflection based transformation, the rules are represented by methods that are introspected and registered at runtime. Each method representing a rule must start with rule prefix and have one of the following signature:

  1. def ruleName(source: S, target: T [, target2: T2, ..., targetN: Tn]): Unit

     def ruleClass2Table(cls: Class, tab: Table, pkey: Column) {
       // the instance cls, tab, pkey has been created by the engine
       // ...
  2. def ruleName(source: S, target: T [, target2: T2, ..., targetN: Tn]): Option[Unit]

     def ruleProperty2Column4(prop: Property, col: Column) =
       guardedBy {
         // a boolean expression
       } transform {
         // transformation block
  3. def ruleName(source: S): T

  4. def ruleName(source: S): Option[T]

     def ruleProperty2Column2(prop: Property) = guardedBy {
       // a boolean expression
     } transform {
       // transformation block that is responsible to create and return an EObject
  5. def ruleName: PartialFunction[S,T]

     def ruleProperty2Column = partial[Property, Column] {
       case Property(_, name, _, type_ : PrimitiveType, false) =>

where S is the type of the source element, T is the type of the primary target element and T2,...,Tn are the types of addition targets target2,...,targetN.

A rule method corresponds to an ATL/EGL matched rule. It can be further annotated by @Lazy to mark a lazy rule and @Unique to mark a unique rule. A lazy rule has to be called explicitly and will produce always a new set of targets unless @Unique is present in which case it returns always the same targets for a given source.

def ruleProperty2Column2(prop: Property)

Matching Target Elements

During the M2M transformation, there is often the need to relate the target elements that have been already (or can be) transformed from source elements. For this purpose, the DSL provides a unary operator ~ (tilde) that can be applied to both an instance of an EObject and to a collection of EObjects. At runtime, this operator looks up the rule that can convert the source into the target.

The operator is defined using implicit conversions in RuleMethods trait:

implicit class EObjectM2MSupport(that: EObject) {
  def unary_~[B >: Null <: EObject]: B

implicit class EListM2MSupport(that: EList[_ <: EObject]) {
  def unary_~[B <: EObject]

Type-safe Transformation

The idea behind the type-safe M2M transformation is to resolve the rule scheduling at compile-time as much as possible to reduce the possibility of failures occurring at runtime. Currently, this is an experimental work-in-progress.

Similarly to the reflection-based transformation, it represents the transformation rules as methods. Each method must be explicitly registered using following construct:

implicit val _ruleName = rule(ruleMethod _)

The reason is, that the implicit value will be later used for the ~ operator to relate target elements. This operator is redefined as:

implicit class EObjectM2MSupport[A <: EObject: ClassTag](that: A) {
  def unary_~[B >: Null <: EObject](implicit rule: Rule[A, B]): B

implicit class EListM2MSupport[A <: EObject: ClassTag](that: EList[A]) {
  def unary_~[B <: EObject](implicit rule: Rule[A, B])

The advantage is that if there is no such a rule between S and T, the compiler will complain at compile time with following error: “No conversion rule between S and T”. This message has been defined on the Rule:

@implicitNotFound(msg = "No conversion rule between ${S} and ${T}.")
trait Rule[S <: EObject, T <: EObject] {
  // ...

This is the same principle that is used in the Scala collection library using the CanBuildFrom.

Note: currently, the type-safe transformation is rather experimental and contained in its own package fr.unice.i3s.sigma.m2m.experimental. We are currently looking into type macros to alleviate some of the inconveniences such as explicit rule registration and code duplication (for each possible rule method combination, there has to be a rule registration methods).