MDD pays off in the mid-term: an industrial experiment

Glass’s Law (discovered here ) states that any new tool or technology makes you INITIALLY less productive.

MDD is not different so nobody should expect to see the benefits of applying MDD in his first project. But the question is whether MDD pays off at some point in time.

In this sense, this paper: “Generating blogs out of product catalogues: an MDE approach” by Oscar Díaz AND Felipe M. Villoria from the ONEKIN group presents an interesting experiment that sheds some light on this issue.

They compare the cost (in labour hours) of developing a “catalogue blog” application (a specific kind of blog aimed at being “a conduit for customer feedback as well as fostering community construction around products”) both through manual coding or code generation.

As shown in the following figure, the break-even point is at around 50 projects since their empirical study showed that the cost of manually creating and configuring the blog application was about 2h while the upfront investment to define the MDD process to generate them automatically (starting from an initial blog model where the user can indicate the desired characteristics for the blog) was around 80 hours plus a very small increment for each generated blog.

Of course, the break-even point depends a lot on the complexity of the application under consideration. The more complex the application the more we can gain if we automate its development process. I’d say this experiment is almost a worst case scenario for MDD since the manual coding alternative is really quick. In general, I expect a better ROI for MDD. Anyway, a nice experiment that I think it is worth to share with you. Opinions?

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