Everyone recognizes the importance of formal modeling activities as support for software development. These models must use an appropriate abstraction level in order to describe systems without unnecessary details. The main objective is to describe the domain (concepts and relations) and the actions using a formal representation. For that, ontologies have been used and domain specific languages (DSL) have been created. The implementation of new DSLs implies the construction of new language-based tools. This can be done automatically using traditional language processing techniques based on grammars.

This special issue contains revised and expanded versions of selected high quality papers presented either at the Conference on Compilers, Programming Languages, Related Technologies and Applications (CoRTA’2010) or at the Fourteenth East-European Conference on Advances in Databases and Information Systems (ADBIS 2010) or at the workshop integrated in this last one called MDASD - Model Driven Approaches in System Development. One of the invited papers comes from the International Workshop on Formalization of Modeling Languages (FML 2010).

The first conference, organized by the University of Minho, took place on September 09-10, 2010, in Braga, Portugal. The latter was organized in co-operation with Faculty of Sciences and Faculty of Technical Sciences from University of Novi Sad and took place on September 20 - 24, 2010, Novi Sad, Serbia. FML 2010 was collocated with ECOOP 2010 and took place on June 21, 2010, in Maribor, Slovenia.

CoRTA2010 (4th edition) is a forum where researchers, developers, educators present their work under development and exchange new ideas and information about language design, processing, assessment, and application (http://corta2010.di.uminho.pt/). CoRTA2010 was a track under INForum -- Simpósio de Informática: http://inforum.org.pt/INForum2010.

ADBIS 2010 provided a forum for the dissemination of research work and it promoted the interaction and collaboration between the database and information systems research communities. MDASD workshop (http://perun. pmf.uns.ac.rs/adbis2010/workshop-mdasd.php) gathered researchers working on Model-Driven (MD) languages, techniques and tools, as well as DSLs. These techniques were applied in information system and application development, databases and related areas. So, MDASD participants could exchange their experience, discuss new ideas and evaluate and improve MD approaches.

The purpose of FML 2010 was to provide a forum to discuss challenge areas in formalizing modeling languages and constructing automated tools from such formalizations (http://www.cis.uab.edu/FML2010/).

There are several common topics between CoRTA, MDASD, ADBIS and FML like:

- Modeling languages and model-driven development;

- Automatic generation of modeling tools;

- Specification of domain specific languages;

- Ontologies as a formal model to develop languages and tools;

- Paradigms, concepts, methodologies, and novel constructs on programming languages;

- Language quality assessment and grammar metrics.

At the end of all these events, some of the high quality submitted papers were selected for possible publication in a special issue of ComSIS and their authors were invited to prepare extended versions of their papers. These extended versions were then reviewed by experts in the field. In order to ensure the best possible quality, the improved papers were then submitted to a second round of reviewing.

This special issue includes two invited papers. The first one “Challenges and Directions in Formalizing the Semantics of Modeling Languages” by Barrett Bryant, Jeff Gray, Marjan Mernik, Peter Clarke, Robert France and Gabor Karsai, discuss semantics-based approaches for the formalization of modeling languages and the automatic construction of modeling tools. The tools for model-driven engineering are usually based on manual processes. In order to automatize their development it is necessary to formalize the modeling language underlying. A semantics-based approach for that purpose is described in this paper.

“Software Agents: Languages, Tools, Platforms” by Costin Badica, Zoran Budimac, Hans-Dieter Burkhard and Mirjana Ivanović is the second invited paper. It presents a very complete survey about agent-based software development. Significant languages, tools, platforms and development activities are described.

The first regular paper has the title “SPEM Ontology as the Semantic Notation for Method and Process Definition in the Context of SWEBOK” and the authors are Miroslav Liška and Pavol Návrat. This paper presents a meta-model ontology that adds a semantic notation for software process definition. This approach provides concepts for knowledge based software process engineering and it was applied to several case studies.

“Ontology Driven Development of Domain-Specific Languages” by Ines Čeh, Matej Črepinšek, Tomaž Kosar and Marjan Mernik is the second regular paper and it explains a new approach to develop DSLs where the design phase is based on ontologies. The main idea is to present a set of rules that allow the automatic translation of ontology concepts into grammar symbols. Preliminary results of the Ontology2DSL framework are presented.

The next paper “Domain-Specific Language for Coordination Patterns” by Nuno Oliveira, Nuno Rodrigues, Pedro Rangel Henriques presents the development of a new DSL to specify coordination patterns of system components. The main objective is to separate the architecture decision features from other code in order to improve the system comprehension process.

In “From DCOM Interfaces to Domain-Specific Modeling Language: A Case Study on the Sequencer” by Tomaž Kos, Tomaž Kosar, Jure Knez and Marjan Mernik a domain-specific modeling language developed to enable domain experts to program or model their own measurement procedures is described. This approach turns them independent from the measurement system producers. Some experiences were performed to prove the effectiveness of this new domain-specific modeling language.

The paper “A DSL for PIM Specifications: Design and Attribute Grammar based Implementation” by Ivan Luković, Maria João Varanda Pereira, Nuno Oliveira, Daniela da Cruz and Pedro Rangel Henriques, presents the design and implementation of a new DSL that will allow to specify easily Platform Independent Model (PIM) specifications. These specifications are used by a model driven software tool (IIS*Case) for system modeling and prototype generation.

The next paper “UML Profile for Specifying User Interfaces of Business Applications” by Branko Perišić, Gordana Milosavljević, Igor Dejanović and Branko Milosavljević, presents a DSL-based approach to perform automatic generation of user interfaces. Since the new DSL created is based on UML, it can be easily integrated with other application UML models.

“Formalizing Business Process Specifications” by Andreas Speck, Sven Feja, Sören Witt, Elke Pulvermüller, Marcel Schulz addresses formalisms to specify business processes in particular the use of temporal logic. In order to avoid the complexity of temporal logic, a graphical notation is proposed and semantic specializers are used to identify and check element types.

Raimundas Matulevicius, Henri Lakk and Marion Lepmets in “An Approach to Assess and Compare Quality of Security Models” describe an approach to perform a comparative study of security models in order to assess their quality.

In the paper “GrammaPolarSlicer”, the authors SérgioAreias, Daniela da Cruz, Pedro Rangel Henriques and Jorge Sousa Pinto propose an approach to ensure the software quality on reusing processes. The paper introduces the concept of “caller-based slicing” as a way to certify the integration of components into legacy systems and proposes the use of visualization techniques to improve the approach.

“Animation of Tile-Based Games Automatically Derived from Simulation Specifications” by Bastian Cramer, Jan Wolter and Uwe Kastensis is concerned with the implementation of visual languages using Devil. When the language has an execution semantics the gap between program depiction and program execution disappears. This tool allows the rapid development of simulations and animations based on several kinds of visual languages: diagrammatic, iconic and graph based ones.

Concerning the Language Processing subject, a new technique to solve LR parsing conflicts is presented by Luis Garcia-Forte and Casiano Rodriguez-Leonin “Solving Difficult LR Parsing Conflicts by Postponing Them”. The main idea is to avoid grammar modifications when reduce-reduce conflicts are detected. The solution is based on a postponing approach.

The paper “Detecting Concurrency Anomalies in Transactional Memory Programs” by João Lourenço, Diogo Sousa and Bruno Teixeira presents a framework for detection of both low and high-level anomalies in transaction memory programs. The tool was applied to a set of programs and the authors proved the effectiveness of using static analysis in the process of anomalies identification.

On behalf of the Editorial Board and the ComSIS Consortium, we would like to thank the authors for their high-quality contributions, and also the reviewers for the effort and time invested into the preparation of this issue of Computer Science and Information Systems journal.

Guest Editors
Ivan Luković, Mirjana Ivanović and Maria João Varanda Pereira