Intentions for CE 8.0 and beyond

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Intentions for CE 8.0 and beyond

Postby bdemchak » Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:45 pm

Hi --

I have been a loyal/paying CE 6.x user for a couple of years. My renewal is due today. For the last several weeks, I have been trying to contact Gentleware support to determine whether there is a future for Poseidon, or whether I should turn to alternatives such as Enterprise Architect. I have asked other questions as well. Unfortunately, I never received any response, and was about to deinstall Poseidon and switch to EA. Now I see this new posting regarding CE 8.

It looks interesting, but it also looks like it may be maturing ... and not a good tool for someone needing reliability and robustness. Additionally, it seems like Poseidon is under new management.

I need to choose between CE 8 and EA ... and I don't have time to run a head-to-head trial.

To me, the sudden appearance of CE 8 raises as many questions as it answers. Can you take a minute and explain how the current developers/management has acquired this franchise/charter, the cost/upgrade options are for CE 6 customers, the support plans for this product, and how/when it will be announced to current licensees?

Software out of context is just software ... but I need a relationship.

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Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:26 pm

Postby [gw]Marko Boger » Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:17 pm


first, let me thank you for your post. We are eager to hear from our users and to provide the best support we can.

Let me start with your question regarding the management. I am the founder and head of Gentleware. I started Gentleware in November 2000 and have ever since been the CEO. The management has not changed. But the markets and our strategies have changed over these past 10 years.

When we started the company, UML was perceived as the lingua franca of software development, and the industrie had high hopes in forward and reverse engineering using UML to increase productivity and raise the level of documentation. And UML has indeed become the language that all software engineers can read and write to express their design intentions. But it was lacking the precision and was in many cases too far away from the domain.

UML 2 was supposed to improve this situation, but for many it has only made the problem worse, UML 2 is a large language that tries to be the one-size-fits-all for software engineering. It turned out that custom made modeling tools and domain specific code generators were able to improve productivity much more than UML 2 was able to. Gentleware has served this market in the past 4 years and we have built many custom made modeling tools and code generators.

But only few customers or large projects could afford the effort of having a custom made modeling tool. That is why we are now coming back with a framework that can successfully address this issue. With the experience of having built a general purpose tool for UML and large set of custom made tools we went back to the drawing board and created a new kind of tool that is now able to support both needs on the same platform.

The new Poseidon is built using the same techniques we have used successfully in customer projects to create large scale architectures from models. The entire tool is built from a set of very focused modeling languages that focus on the very specific needs we had to describe a modeling tool.

Using this technique we can now create modeling tools. These can be very generic as in the case of UML. Or very specific. The term in the industry for this is "domain specific language", or more specifically graphical DSL. UML in that sence is not any different to us anymore, to us it is just one DSL, that happens to have a very broad domain. But with the very same techiques we can develop modeling tools that are very very customer specific.

To achieve this, we have developed a completely new architecture. We took the pieces that are well accepted in the industrie and served us well, most prominently EMF, which is a wonderful model repository which is open source, fully integrated in Eclipse, at the same time independant of Eclipse, and can be used as the hub in modeling between modeling tools and generators for example.

But we were unhappy with the set of tools we used in our custom projects to generate DSL, specifically GMF and Eclipse itself. Eclipse turns out to be a difficult environment to build a modeling tool. Is is so very much text file oriented in its very nature that it is a difficult environment for a graphical modeling tool. We were also disappointed with GMF, a framework that proposed a great idea, namely to model DSLs and to generate the tools from these models. But the runtime turned out to be so difficult that any addition to the norm proved to be extra hard to develop.

So we basically took that good idea of generating modeling tools but implemented a runtime that was specifically built for that purpose. That then gave us great freedom and excellent results. We can now model the largest part of the tool but we can also extend the functionality very flexibly.

And with the experience we had from earlier developments for Poseidon we knew exactly what to look out for and how to avoid pitfalls. The new architecture is very robust. Although Poseidon 8.0 is built on a completely new code base, it is already more robust than Poseidon 6.0 was. It is also very fast. The startup time is really short, it depends on the machine you run it on of course but it usually starts up in about 4 seconds. It is also very scalable, we now know how to handle even large models and keep the tool smooth and fast.

Also, we completely redesigned the user interface. We wanted it to be as plain as possible. Most modeling tools today are so overloaded with stuff that it is difficult for a new user to get to know the tool. The main focus is on the drawing area and the ability to continue work for almost all modeling activities within the drawing pane. We very much encourage feedback on the UI, we really want to know how you like it and how we can improve it further.

So all in all we think we have created a really nice tool and an excellent framework aswell. Now this does come at a price. Since we did go through the trouble of rewriting everything, there are some functionalities of the old Poseidon we have not been able to transpose yet. Some of these features are currently being implemented, some others will be dropped altogether. Your feedback can help us decide which features to go after.

We are currently implementing sequence diagrams, partitions, orthogonal states and the ability to import from older versions (yes, the saving format has changed also). Candidates to implement are documentation generation, auto-layout, round-trip engineering, multi user support, support for the newer kinds of programming language and more. But also we are really keen on providing support for other modeling notations and languages and for custom made DSLs.

The price model will likely stay just as it is, we will have a Community Edition, a Standard and a Professional Edition with different sets of functionality. These will be released over time when we are happy with the level of functionality for each of the Editions. The point of time also depends on the feedback we get.

You might have noticed that the address of the company has changed, we are now based in the very south of Germany on the shores of the Lake Constance while we were based in Hamburg in the north of Germany for the past 10 years. This is because I have accepted a call as Professor at the University of Applied Science in Constance for Software Architecture, and model driven software development is one of my core lecture and research topics. This did have an influence on our strategy and it will likely lead to a more innovations driven approach. It will also have a positive effect on the longevity of the product and our strategy for it. But what I have learned from the past 10 years is that it is hard to predict the future.

What I can tell you is that we consistently focused on modeling tools, model driven software development and excellent software architectures. The software development team has been very stable and is very commited to our tools and strategy. We love what we are doing and want to be proud of the outcome. I hope we continue to win your trust and can build a lasting relationship.

Best regards, Marko Boger
[gw]Marko Boger
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Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2005 10:37 am
Location: Germany

Postby bdemchak » Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:08 am

Thanks, Marko, for the great reply.

You have my curiosity up, and I'm very interested in the DSL aspects of the discussion. I'll try this out in the next couple of days to see where it leads.

Have a great week!
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Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:26 pm

Postby paulfinn31 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 8:28 pm

I totally agree.
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Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2009 6:13 pm

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