SeMFIS: A Flexible Engineering Platform for Semantic Annotations of Conceptual Models

Tracking #: 1192-2404

Hans-Georg Fill

Responsible editor: 
Philippe Cudre-Mauroux

Submission type: 
Tool/System Report
In this paper, we present SeMFIS -- a flexible engineering platform for semantic annotations of conceptual models. Conceptual models have been used in the past for many purposes in the context of information systems' engineering. These purposes include for example the elicitation of requirements, the simulation of the behavior of future information systems, the generation of code or the interaction with information systems through models at runtime. Semantic annotations of conceptual models constitute a recently established approach for dynamically extending the semantic representation and semantic analysis scope of conceptual modeling languages. Thereby, elements in conceptual models are linked to concepts in ontologies via annotations. Thus, additional knowledge aspects can be represented without modifications of the modeling languages. These aspects can then be analyzed using queries, specifically designed algorithms or external tools and services. At its core, SeMFIS provides a set of meta models for visually representing ontologies and semantic annotations as models. In addition, the tool contains an analysis component, a web service interface, and an import/export component to query and exchange model information. SeMFIS has been implemented using the freely available ADOxx meta modeling platform. It can thus be directly added to the large variety of other modeling methods based on this platform or used as an additional service for other tools. We present the main features of SeMFIS and briefly discuss use cases where it has been applied. SeMFIS is freely available via the website at \url{}.
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Solicited Reviews:
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Review #1
Anonymous submitted on 11/Nov/2015
Review Comment:

This paper presents SeMFIS an engineering platform which provides a set of meta models for visually representing ontologies and semantic annotations as models. The authors focus in this paper on the modeling, the query and the exchange functionalities. They clearly motivate their work and its importance through the literature review. The authors described their contribution through a detailed description and they took into consideration most of the comments of the previous review.

Quality: This paper is of good quality. The authors start by giving an overview of the literature by pointing out the lacks and on this base an architecture was designed and then they clearly explain the different features of the tools and proposed a use case.

Importance: The tools presented has its importance in the domain of engineering of conceptual model. This importance has been well described by the authors in the introduction part.

Impact of tool: The authors present different tools/works and distinguish themselves with new features regarding the semantics; they argued that PRO-SEAT permits to create semantic annotation but no open accessible version of that tool can be found. This is an advantage for their tools and the impact it may have since it can be reused; However their approach is based on a tools based on Windows which may alter the impact of the tool in a sens that not every organization would be able to use their tool. In my point of view the authors can add a section for performance and evaluation where they can state in a more qualitative way the effect of having this platform only available on Windows. By qualitative I mean to be able to provide more detailed information to explain complex issues/the reason behind the existing result. The way, the author adapted the paper answer the qualitative lack.

Clarity & Readability : The paper is very well written. Every section is clearly presented and motivated.

Illustration: The figures are well presented and self-contained. It would be preferable to provide a better view for the figures 3. in priority and the figure 2 if possible.

Review #2
Anonymous submitted on 29/Dec/2015
Major Revision
Review Comment:

This paper introduces SeMFIS, a tool(set) allowing semantic annotations of conceptual models. We like to structure the review based on the criteria for "Reports on tools and systems – short papers describing mature Semantic Web related tools and systems." ( Quality{1}, Importance{2}, Impact{3}, Clarity{4}, Illustration{5}, Readability{6}.

We see the high importance {2} of a toolkit which enables to interact with conceptual (legacy) models in a easy manner. We see the use of such a toolkit especially in the times of always changing organisation structures (e.g. a fusion of two companies).

The topic is quite abstract and only the analogy (to textual, video or audio resources) provided at the beginning of the Chapter 2 actually enabled me to understand the problem SeMFIS is tackling. The introduction would become more penetrable from a first high-level illustration, and most importantly a toy example. Especially for people not familiar in the realm of conceptual models this might ease the introduction significantly.

As this is a tool for a rather specialized task and therefore a small potential group of users we like the approach of presenting use cases a lot. The style and scope of this use cases are well chosen and help to understand in how the tool might be used. Unfortunately these use cases are not reflecting people outside of work done by the authors group which somehow mitigates the impact{3} measure. Also we do not think that students, which are as a part of assignments using SeMFIS, should be taken as impact. The proof of impact of SeMFIS outside the authors group might be immediate but is not yet visible.

We think that the paper is overall well written. The paper is clear{4} structured and separates the concerns of each chapter. It was not always evident what functionality is provided by the ADOxx platform and what is added through SeMFIS. As SeMFIS is only working on top of ADOxx we regard this as minor.

The readability{6} of this paper was good except of the chapter "Scripting and Analysis Features" which reads like a hastily written documentation. We estimate that the paper can gain most in quality by reworking this part. Mostly we propose to after one example fo the script language to omit further examples.

Overall we propose to pick one specific use case SeMFIS solves (especially well) and show the tools capabilities based on this use case.

Finally the size of 15 pages (without references) does not adhere to the short paper definition by SWJ (10 pages). Therefore this paper needs a major revision.

- Page 10: Copy-Paste errors: "
- Page 9: Program Code 6 is missing "CMD /c" before wget.exe ?

Review #3
Anonymous submitted on 02/Jan/2016
Review Comment:

The author of the paper has tried to address all my comments. The paper contains more details on the annotation metamodel, the constructs used for annotations and how they are associated with ontology terms on one hand, and the conceptual model constructs on the other hand. A discussion on how UML class diagrams can be annotated using their model has also been added, as opposed to business process (BPMN), which have been already addressed in the literature. The website of the tool also contains tutorials illustrating how the tool can be used.

I still think that the flexibility of the tool, in the sense that it attempts to tackle any conceptual model, is an impediment to its usage and adoption. It would have been better in my opinion to focus on given conceptual models. That said, given the major work done on the paper to address all the points raised in my previous review, I am inclined to recommend the acceptance of the paper.

Minor comments:
Page 3: in figure 1 -> in Figure 1