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xOWL Graphical Modeling Environment User Guide

This document introduces to Domain Experts the xOWL Graphical Modeling Environment. This document aims at giving a general idea about how to use a domain-specific modeling environment.


This tutorial introduces the general concepts used in the xOWL Graphical Modeling Environment (GME). It specifically aims at domain experts. Regardless of the particular domain and notation available to you, the Environment has a set of general principles common to all notations. For example, adding new elements with drag and drops and drawing connectors is done the same way.

In this tutorial you will need a distribution of the xOWL GME. You can use the one provided to you by your supplier or this generic one. Note that screen captures below are from the generic one. In order to run the xOWL GME you need the Java 7 JRE. Contact your local computer help desk or supplier in case of problem.

This tutorial is split into four sections:
  • The xOWL Graphical Modeling Environment
  • Work Organization
  • Editing a Diagram
  • Looking at the Data

xOWL Graphical Modeling Environment

The xOWL Graphical Modeling Environment (GME) lets you build a model using a visual notation specific to your domain. Depending on your specific work environment, people from other domains may interact with the same model through different visual notations. You should be provided a distribution of the xOWL GME tailored to your needs with at least one kind of visual notation. A distribution of the xOWL GME is called a workbench. Each workbench defines a set of visual notations, which are called views, because multiple views in the same workbench define different visual representation of the same set of data.

In order to launch the xOWL GME software, double-click on the XOWLGMIEnvironment.jar file in your distribution, or use the following command line:
java –jar XOWLGMIEnvironment.jar

After a quick load, the main window should appear. By default, the left pane show a project area where you will be able to manage your projects. On the right, the toolbox pane will display the relevant toolboxes when the time comes.

Work Organization

In the xOWL GME, a project represents a single model, that is to say, a coherent set of data. A model can be visualized through different views (notations). Consequently, a project contains multiple diagrams that represent multiple points of view on the same model.

In order to create a new project, click on File>New Project … menu. Enter the name of your project and validate.

The new project shall now appear in the project area.

Now we want to create new diagrams for this project. Do so by clicking on the menu File>New Diagram … You can also right-click on your project in the project area and selecting New Diagam …

Type in the name of your diagram, select the view that will be used (that is to say the visual notation) and validate. With the generic xOWL GME Environment, choose Task View.

In the project area, a new node shall have been added under your project. This node represents your new diagram. The new diagram shall also have been automatically opened. With the toolbox pane visible, you should now see the toolboxes for this diagram as follow:

Editing a Diagram

Drag and Drop

Depending on your particular notation, the elements you can add to a diagram are different. In the generic distribution, you are now able to add a new Task. By doing so, drag the Task element in the toolbox to the central area and drop it.

An area signals whether you can drop a particular element within it with light hatchings:

If you try to drag an Interface element in this example, the main area will not be highlighted, telling you it cannot be drop there.

You now have a new Task element represented by a white rectangle with a title:

Moving your mouse over the task element, it is highlighted with a blue aura. The xOWL GME always let you know if you can interact with an element by highlighting it in blue:

You can try to move around the element by dragging it. The area where it can be drop is again highlighted with red hatchings.

The general area where you put your new Task in this example is called a free positioning area because the elements within them can be put wherever you want. Other areas may take care themselves of the layout of their elements in order to put them on a line or a column.

Ordering with Drag and Drop

Some area allows you to define the order of the element within them. In this example, add a Read Action element to a Task. When above the Task element, the Task’s inner area is highlighted with hatching to indicate the new element can be drop. In addition, a cursor is shown to indicate where the element will be inserted.

Adding new elements demonstrates how a new element can be inserted between two others.

Input fields

When the value of a field is yet to be defined the “<empty>” string is displayed instead in italic to let you know the value is undefined.
Now, moving your mouse over the “<empty>” string, a small area is highlighted in green. This tells you that this area can be edited to type in a new value. The xOWL GME let you know you can modify a value by highlighting it in green when the mouse is over it.

In order to edit the value, place the mouse over it so that it is highlighted in green and double-click on it. The xOWL GME then makes available a field for you to type in the new value you want. In order for you to focus on it, the rest of the diagram becomes veiled and inactive.

To validate your input press enter or click on the V button under the field. If you wish to cancel your input, press escape of click on the X button also under the field.
In this way you can change the title of your new task in the generic distribution of the xOWL GME.

Tracing connectors

When two elements are placed in a free positioning area, they can be seen as nodes on a graph. Depending on the visual notation, it may be possible to trace connectors between those nodes. In our example, it is possible to trace a connector between two Task elements.

In the toolbox, click on the Relation element. It is then highlighted in green to indicate which connector is selected. In this mode, the only elements that will be highlighted when the mouse is over them are the elements that can be at the origin of the selected connector.

Place your mouse over the element that will be the origin and drag. Doing so, the origin element is highlighted in green. At this point the only elements that will be highlighted when the mouse is over them are elements that can be at the target of the selected connector.

Place your mouse over the element that will be the target and release the button. The connector will then be traced.

Looking at the Data

Last edited May 8, 2012 at 8:16 PM by lwouters, version 3


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