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Model-Driven Engineering: Automatic Code Generation and Beyond

March 2015 Technical Note
John Klein, Harry L. Levinson, Jay Marchetti

This report offers guidance on selecting, analyzing, and evaluating model-driven engineering tools for automatic code generation in acquired systems.


Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number



Increasing consideration of model-driven engineering (MDE) tools for software development efforts means that acquisition executives must more often deal with the following challenge: Vendors claim that by using MDE tools, they can generate software code automatically and achieve high developer productivity. However, MDE consists of more than code generation tools; it is also a software engineering approach that can affect the entire lifecycle of a system from requirements gathering through sustainment. This report focuses on the application of MDE tools for automatic code generation when acquiring systems built using these software development tools and processes. The report defines some terminology used by MDE tools and methods, emphasizing that MDE consists of both tools and methods that must align with overall acquisition strategy. Next, it discusses how the use of MDE for automatic code generation affects acquisition strategy and introduces new risks to the program. It then offers guidance on selecting, analyzing, and evaluating MDE tools in the context of risks to an organization's acquisition effort through-out the system lifecycle. Appendices provide a questionnaire that an organization can use to gather information about vendor tools along with criteria for evaluating tools mapped to the questionnaire that relate to acquisition concerns.

The supplementary file available through the spreadsheet link below is the Questionnaire Template. It contains the questionnaire used in this study and is available for download and use to collect information from vendors for your own model-driven engineering tool assessments.