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Last modified: June 22, 2000
Architecture Description Markup Language (ADML)

[June 21, 2000] The Open Group has released an announcement for ADML: "The Open Group Announces Publication of Architecture Description Markup Language (ADML) Version 1. A Standard XML-Based Language for Describing Software Architectures to Enable Their Representation, Evaluation, and Analysis." The text of the announcement, in part: "The Open Group, a vendor and technology-neutral consortium dedicated to enterprise interoperability, today announced the availability of ADML Version 1, the first release of the Architecture Description Markup Language, an XML-based mark-up language for describing system architectures. A software architecture describes the structural properties of the software, typically the components and their interrelationships and guidelines about their use. ADML provides a means of representing an architecture that can be used to support the interchange of architectural descriptions between a variety of architectural design tools. ADML is based on Acme, a software architecture description language developed at Carnegie Mellon University and the Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California. ADML is an XML-based version of Acme developed by the Micro-electronics and Computer technology Consortium (MCC) as part of its Software and Systems Engineering Productivity (SSEP) project. MCC joined The Open Group Architecture Program Group and its members, including NCR and the U.S. Department of Defense, to develop ADML into an Open Group Technical Standard."

Documentation for the ADML DTD contains an Overview, User's Guide, Customizer's Guide, and Technical Reference. "SGML Architectures (as opposed to software architectures defined in ADML) allow automatic transformation of an XML document conforming to one DTD into an XML document conforming to a second DTD, by providing a mapping between the elements in the two DTDs. Such mappings of ADML documents can be used to define views of an ADML document. . .Beyond notation, ADML development intends to service a wider set of needs placed on industrial grade modeling tools. These needs can be simply summarized by the following list: (1) Representation - a model must be captured in a format which insures 'shelf life' and a format usable by multiple tools. (2) Views - a model must have the ability to 'morph' other views, including logical, physical, and organization views. (3) Collaboration - a model must have the ability to be partitioned across geograhically dispersed work groups. (4) Repository - a model must have fine-grained persistence. XML is an excellent format for providing these additional capabilities. See "The Merit of XML as an Architecture Description Language Meta-Language" for a more detail description of XML's use as a format for an architectural description language. Because ADML is a large DTD, it is quite common for organizations to use only a subset of its markup model. Similarly, because individual organizations often have specific needs that an industry DTD cannot reflect, many users also extend ADML's markup model. As a result, we expect that ADML will evolve as it is applied to more models, as more XML tools come into use, and as users gain more experience in working with it."

"Architecture Description Markup Language (ADML) Background: ADML is a representation language for architecture that was developed by the Micro-electronics and Computer technology Consortium (MCC) as part of its Software and Systems Engineering Productivity (SSEP) project. ADML has been used by MCC in collaboration with The Open Group to develop a proof of concept for a Building Blocks Description Language (BBDL). The Open Group intends this work program to provide a means of defining architectural building blocks in a way that allows their interactions with other building blocks to be captured, and that allows real products to be conformance tested and procured to fulfil the defined functions. The following informative presentations were delivered by MCC to The Open Group at its October 1999 meeting: (1) ADL Overview and (2) ADML. An ADML representation of the Building Blocks Example (originally "Appendix J") found within The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF) is also available on the MCC web site. ADML is directly based on ACME, an architecture description language. The principle language design and tool development work for ACME has been undertaken by David Garlan, Bob Monroe, and Drew Kompanek at Carnegie Mellon University, and Dave Wile at USC's Information Sciences Institute. ADML adds to ACME a standardized representation (parsable by ordinary XML parsers), the ability to define links to objects outside the architecture (such as rationale, designs, components, etc.), straightforward ability to interface with commercial repositories, and transparent extensibility."

Comments on the specification should be sent to: or The Open Group, 1010 El Camino Real Suite 380, Menlo Park, CA 94025-4345, USA.

"The Open Group is the leading vendor-neutral, international consortium for buyers and suppliers of technology. Its mission is to cause the development of a viable global information infrastructure that is ubiquitous, trusted, reliable, and easy-to-use. The Open Group creates an environment where all elements involved in technology development can cooperate to deliver less costly and more flexible IT solutions. The Open Group operates in all phases of the open systems technology lifecycle including innovation, market adoption, product development, and proliferation. Presently, it focuses on seven strategic areas: open systems application platform development, architecture, distributed systems management, interoperability, distributed computing environment, security, and the information superhighway."


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