A visual language and environment for enterprise system modelling and automation

Lei Li, John Grundy, John Hosking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: We want to support enterprise service modelling and generation using a more end user-friendly metaphor than current approaches, which fail to scale to large organisations with key issues of "cobweb" and "labyrinth" problems and large numbers of hidden dependencies. 

Method: We present and evaluate an integrated visual approach for business process modelling using a novel tree-based overlay structure that effectively mitigate complexity problems. A tree-overlay based visual notation (EML) and its integrated support environment (MaramaEML) supplement and integrate with existing solutions. Complex business architectures are represented as service trees and business processes are modelled as process overlay sequences on the service trees. 

Results: MaramaEML integrates EML and BPMN to provide complementary, high-level business service modelling and supports automatic BPEL code generation from the graphical representations to realise web services implementing the specified processes. It facilitates generated service validation using an integrated LTSA checker and provides a distortion-based fisheye and zooming function to enhance complex diagram navigation. Evaluations of EML show its effectiveness. 

Conclusions: We have successfully developed and evaluated a novel tree-based metaphor for business process modelling and enterprise service generation. Practice implications: a more user-friendly modelling approach and support tool for business end users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-277
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Visual Languages and Computing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Business process execution language
  • Business process modelling
  • Business process modelling notation
  • Domain-specific visual languages
  • Process enactment
  • Web service generation
  • Zoomable user interfaces

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