Human centric Modelling

Some thoughts on Vincent Hanniet’s Agile & Modeling new way of life! :

If you ask people what concepts come to their mind when they think of modelling in software engineering, you usually hear things like “UML”, “Model Driven …”, “Autosar”, etc. Now these are big comprehensive topics, that one cannot handle without having spent some time getting into them.

In contrast, to me, modelling is a way of thinking, based on abstraction, a quite natural skill, and thus is also a quite natural thing to do for every human being, like when you’re abstracting the shape of the screen you’re just looking at as rectangular or using the word “screen” as a concept.

I do not say that seeing modelling one way is better than the other. Both are good to have. I see it like this: There is a modelling at the low-end, that all humans use every day a million times, and there is modelling at the high-end with comprehensive concepts like UML, MDD etc. Perhaps approaching the modelling topic from the low-end would make it easier accessible for most software practitioners.

Have fun

Compared to what has been published on UML, MDD etc, we still know very little about practical abstractional thinking in models, don’t we?

About modelpractice

Modeling Theory and Abstraction Awareness in strive for scientific rigour and relevance to information systems engineering.
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5 Responses to Human centric Modelling

  1. vhanniet says:

    Yes. That is probably partly aimed by Domain Specific Languages (, but we ought to focus on the not covered part: before manipulating very (domain) specific notions, how do we translate thoughts in models (which they often are by nature)?

  2. Alex Lagarde says:

    I could not agree more. Are you familiar with Conceptual modeling ? Mylopoulos defined it as “the activity of formally describing some aspects of the physical and social world around us for purposes of understanding and communication”.
    In conceptual modeling, the natural language aspect is vital, as it is the closer link between human concepts and formalized concepts (like DSLs).
    The Mylyn Intent open-source project ( tries to close the gap betwen explanations in Natural Langage and Models, so that you can start your conception by describing it in Natural Langage and then transform it into a model (i.e. transform your thoughts in models). We are still at the beginning of the project, but we really think it will help to transform “models at the low-end” into “models at the high-end”;

  3. Hi Vincent & Alex

    Recently read “Thalheim (2010) Towards a Theory of Conceptual Modelling”. Although interesting to read it somehow misses the actual point of ‘abstractional thinking’ as the key concept.

    Personally I think, there is much more to find out about abstraction in modelling. During modelling you discover lots of issues that make it rather obvious, that the model of abstraction itself is much richer than just the layers view, usually referred to.

    Yes, I think too, that DSL people are a very good source of such issues, e.g. “Völter (2011) DSL Best Practices”, Part I “Designing DSLs”. Collecting and formalising such ‘issues’ is what I would call a “Modelling Theory”.


    will take a look at the Intent project, on the first glance looks like an interesting approach to Traceability



  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi 🙂
    i’m newbi to modeling theory but interested especially in the low-end ideas.
    I would enjoy a typical example of that low-end modeling, ingenious like
    Did you MaKe any attempts to categorize the low-end ways of modeling?

  5. Hi,
    Collecting such examples is still in progress. Typical sources of inspiration are papers by people like Völter (above) and own experience. Of course, also other contributions from personal experiences are always welcome.

    Have fun

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