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DSL3S - Domain Specific Language for Spatial Simulation Scenarios

Goal: DSL3S is a model-driven domain specific language for Spatial Simulation in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). DSL3S synthesises relevant concepts of spatial simulation in a UML profile, thus allowing the design of simulation models through the arrangement of graphical elements. An implementation of this language, named MDD3S, has been developed relying on Model Driven Development (MDD) tools distributed with the Eclipse IDE. MDD3S includes a code generation infrastructure, that produces ready to run simulations from DSL3S models, supported by the MASON simulation tool-kit.

Methods: Model-Driven Development, Model-Driven Architecture

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Luís Moreira De Sousa
added a research item
This article presents the results of a usability evaluation initiative conducted on the Domain Specific Language for Spatial Simulation Scenarios (short name DSL3S) and its supporting tools. This language applies a Model-Driven Development approach to spatial simulation, providing model development through the composition of graphical elements and the subsequent transformation to source code. Potential users trained in disciplines related to Geographic Information Systems were exposed for a first time to the language with an introductory exercise. After installing the supporting tools and developing a simple spatial simulation model, participants then evaluated the language and its tools by answering a questionnaire. The results of this evaluation point to a good degree of usability, with particularly positive appreciations of the DSL3S supporting tools. Notwithstanding, participants also show some reluctance in adopting such a development framework, hinting at some reminiscent scepticism towards domain specific modelling languages and Model-Driven Development. © 2018 The Author(s). This open access article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 4.0 license.
Luís Moreira De Sousa
added a research item
Cellular automata and agent-based modelling techniques have long been used for spatial simulation in the Geographic Information Systems field. However, they largely rely on code libraries and pre-compiled models, either requiring advanced programming skills or imposing scope constraints. Several domain specific languages have been proposed in this context, but mostly resulting in new textual programming languages. DSL3S is a domain specific language for spatial simulation, synthesising concepts in a UML profile, permitting the design of simulation models through graphical elements. MDD3S is an implementation of this language relying on model-driven development (MDD) tools built around the Eclipse IDE; it produces ready to run simulations from DSL3S models, supported by the MASON simulation tool-kit. These assets have proved sufficient to developed classic models in different GIS application fields.
Luís Moreira De Sousa
added 2 research items
This article describes DSL3S, a domain specific modelling language for Spatial Simulation in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Techniques such as cellular automata and agent-based modelling have long been used to capture and simulate the temporal dynamics of spatial information. Tools commonly employed to implement spatial simulation models include code libraries and pre-compiled models; the former require advanced programming skills while the latter impose relevant constraints on application scope. Previous attempts to produce domain specific languages in the field have invariably resulted in new textual programming languages (e.g. SELES, NetLogo, Ocelet) that are platform specific and in some cases with weak GIS support and interoperability. DSL3S synthesises relevant concepts of spatial simulation in a UML profile, that allows the design of simulation models through the arrangement of graphical elements. An implementation of this language is also presented, that relies on Model Driven Development (MDD) tools distributed with the Eclipse IDE. This includes a code generation infrastructure, that produces ready to run simulations from DSL3S models, supported by the MASON simulation tool-kit. Finally, DSL3S models for three simple and classical simulations allows to better illustrate and discuss the usage of the language.
Cellular automata and agent-based modelling techniques have long been used for spatial simulation in the Geographic Information Systems field. However, they largely rely on code libraries and pre-compiled models, either requiring advanced programming skills or imposing scope constraints. Several domain specific languages have been proposed in this context , but mostly resulting in new textual programming languages. DSL3S is a domain specific language for spatial simulation , synthesising concepts in a UML profile, permitting the design of simulation models through graphical elements. MDD3S is an implementation of this language relying on model-driven development (MDD) tools built around the Eclipse IDE; it produces ready to run simulations from DSL3S models, supported by the MASON simulation tool-kit. Additionally , this article shows the usage of DSL3S through a set of simple models that portrait classical constructs in spatial simulation.
Luís Moreira De Sousa
added a research item
Techniques such as cellular automata and agent-based models have long been used in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to capture and simulate the dynamics of change of spatial information. However, spatial simulation has been largely absent from traditional GIS software pack- ages, unlike most other spatial analysis techniques. The relative complexity of spatial simulation has resulted in a myriad of independent tools, each with different features, in many cases focusing on highly specific contexts. Contrary to other disciplines (e.g. systems engineering) a simulation tool for GIS, with a wider variety of application domains, but accessible to non-programmers seems largely lacking. Between code libraries and pre-compiled models, the spatial analyst faces a non trivial choice among a vast number of spatial simulation tools available today. Early on a compromise for wider application range with a code library or ease of use with a pre-compiled model must be made, with relevant consequences throughout the analysis process. Various domain specific languages (DSLs) have been attempted to fill in this gap between code libraries and pre-compiled models (e.g. SELES, NetLogo, Ocelet). However, these have invariably resulted in new textual programming languages, still requiring some level of programming skills without raising the level of development abstraction. Moreover, portability and GIS interoperability are often issues with these languages. This dissertation proposes a Model Driven Development (MDD) approach to spatial simulation in the field of GIS. This approach includes a DSL and a companion framework/tool. The language is DSL3S, the acronym for “Domain Specific Language for Spatial Simulation Scenarios”, that captures relevant simulation concepts in a graphical language. DSL3S is formalised as a UML profile, that allows the design of simulation models through the arrangement of graphical elements. Furthermore, a prototype implementation of this language was developed, relying on the MDD tools distributed with the Eclipse IDE. This prototype is named MDD3S, the acronym for “Model-Driven Development for Spatial Simulation Scenarios”. It includes a model-to-code transformation infrastructure, that pro- duces ready to run simulations from DSL3S models, supported by the MASON simulation tool-kit. These tools are packaged as plug-ins that may be seamlessly added to Eclipse. In addition, various assets were produced facilitating the usage of the language and the prototype: a web-based manual, a series of tutorial videos and a collection of simple models illustrating the usage of DSL3S in classical applications such as wildfires or urban sprawl. An evaluation programme was conducted during which experts in GIS and related fields were subject to a first exposure to DSL3S and the accompanying MDD3S framework, and then required to answer a questionnaire. This evaluation points to a good degree of ease of use, with the first quartile in positive territory for all questions related to the language and the framework. The results are less positive for the MDD approach in general, but still point to some adoption potential.
Luís Moreira De Sousa
added a project goal
DSL3S is a model-driven domain specific language for Spatial Simulation in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). DSL3S synthesises relevant concepts of spatial simulation in a UML profile, thus allowing the design of simulation models through the arrangement of graphical elements. An implementation of this language, named MDD3S, has been developed relying on Model Driven Development (MDD) tools distributed with the Eclipse IDE. MDD3S includes a code generation infrastructure, that produces ready to run simulations from DSL3S models, supported by the MASON simulation tool-kit.