Platform independence in MDA

One key aspect of MDA is platform independence. However, even some of the brightest people in our industry misunderstand what platform independence means in MDA.

Platform independence has a different meaning in MDA than it has, for instance, in Java. Java promotes platform-independence by providing a common environment that insulates the application from platform details such as the instruction set and system API (for instance, for memory allocation, file system manipulation, networking, GUI, threading, etc). The application still has to address all these concerns, but it does that through API and mechanisms that work the same way regardless the actual underlying platform, and thus can run on any platform the Java environment is available. In other words, the Java environment is the platform.

MDA promotes platform-independence by adopting a design-centric approach. Models are removed from implementation related concerns and thus are inherently platform independent: a single design can be reused for building the same system for multiple target platforms. The implementation details are taken care of by target platform specific templates. The templates are applied to the user models then generating concrete platform-specific artifacts (running code, documentation, database schema, configuration files). Differently from Java (even if Martin Fowler says so), MDA does not promote another platform. What it does is to promote a clear separation between problem domain concerns and implementation concerns (as covered before here in the inaugural series entitled “Where we are coming from“).

The benefits of this separation are many: from unprecedented levels of reuse to better opportunities for work specialization. I plan to cover these benefits in detail on future posts.


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