The Open Model Project is an initiative to collaboratively develop reference models for everyone to use, modify, copy, and distribute in an open and public process.

This page provides further details about openmodels.org and the Open Model project. It is intended for a general audience and does not presume a background in enterprise modelling.

What are the vision and goals of the project?

The primary goal of the Open Model Project is to collaboratively develop reference models for everyone to use, modify, copy, and distribute in an open and public process. Therefore, the project seeks to build an open modelling community and to initiate an open modelling process. This website is intended as the central hub for the open modelling community.

The project also aims at developing a software infrastructure for collaborative modelling which includes version management of models and associated documentation, facilities for model review, and more. In its current initial state, the project needs a thorough requirements analysis and thus an open discussion about its vision, goals, problems and issues.

A possible long-term vision is to build a repository of reference models for use in organisational planning and modelling, software development, teaching, and research. As enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are one prime example of the need for and use of reference models, our vision is to eventually cover many different aspects of the enterprise, e.g. accounting, manufacturing, finance, marketing.


What is the project's state?

The Open Model initiative is currently just that, an initiative by a small group of researchers who proposed a first vision of a future Open Model project at the Open Source Systems 2006 conference in a contribution titled Conceptual Modelling as a New Entry in the Bazaar: The Open Model Approach. The paper is available for download and (hopefully) easy to read and understand by a general audience.

This website, openmodels.org, serves as a first step to build an open modelling community. Currently, the website provides means to register as a user and to post in a discussion forum.

Currently, it is helpful to express your opinion about the project's goals and vision, its alleged problems, issues, and success factors and other ideas after registration in the forum.

Please note that the Open Model Initiative has an academic flavour and is currently run by a group of researchers. Academic communities are very similar to, yet distinctly different from typical open source software communities in several respects, e.g. in terms of funding, hierarchies, and named credits.


Who should participate?

The community needs visionaries, software developers, modellers, reviewers, writers, and evangelists.

If you know how to create process, data, or object models, you can help by creating new models and by refining (not yet) existing models.

If you know an industry inside-out, you can help by making suggestions for new models and by reviewing existing models.

If you consult with others, you can help by promoting the use of open models and by using open models in your work.

If you like to code, you can help by designing and implementing model versioning, in-browser model reviews, and other necessary tools.

Generally, if you are interested in contributing, you have two options:

  1. you can post in the forum, or
  2. you can contact us

We encourage you to become part of the community by registering. Due to recent experiences with spam, we now require you to register in order to post in the forum.


How to participate?

At the current state of the project, it is helpful to express your opinion about the project's goals and vision, its alleged problems, issues, and success factors and other ideas after registration in the forum.


Why is the initiative called "The Open Model Project"

The Open Model Project is inspired by the successes of open source software development projects as the prime example for collaborative community processes by geographically dispersed participants, hence the title. The artefacts created by the Open Model Project are "open reference models" or "open models" for short.


What does the "open" in "open models" mean?

The "open" in "open model" refers to the licensing terms of models in reference to those used for free, libre, open source software. An "open model" is licensed under terms which provide the licensee with unrestricted access to all model representations and documentations as well royalty-free, non-exclusive rights to copy, redistribute, use and modify the model and the model documentation.


What are reference models?

A reference model is a conceptual model that comes with the claim to suit not just one system, but a whole range of systems, e.g. a generic process model for contract processing in the insurance industry. The claim pertains to two aspects. On the one hand, reference models are intended to provide appropriate generalisations of existing domains. On the other hand, reference models are aimed at delivering blueprints for good system design. Thus, reference models are descriptive and prescriptive at the same time. Reference models are a reification of a very attractive vision: They promise higher quality of information systems at less cost. However, adapting reference models for actual system implementation often requires significant adaptations for a specific application.

A reference model typically is a conceptual model. On a conceptual level, models represent abstractions of real-world phenomena relevant to a specific modelling task and valid for a specific time frame. Conceptual models are aimed at providing representations of software systems that are accessible not only to modellers and software developers, but also to domain experts and prospective end users. For this reason, they focus on general concepts commonly used within a certain domain abstracting from technical aspects.

By allowing for various abstractions, e.g. data abstraction, object abstraction, and process abstraction, they contribute to the reduction of complexity and risk. On the other hand, they take into account certain characteristics of implementation-level languages. Thus, conceptual models help to overcome the notorious cultural chasm between developers and end users. At the same time, they support the communication among software developers, thus contributing to more efficient coordination in software development projects.

Furthermore, conceptual models are the instrument of choice to prepare for integrating applications by defining common concepts for a set of applications. Also, abstracting from technical details renders conceptual models better suited for re-use than source code.