OMF (Ontological Modeling Framework) Core Functional API

OMF (Ontological Modeling Framework) Core Functional API

Build Status Download






OMF is a functional API for ontological modeling in the sense that it specifies:

  • abstract types
  • operations on abstract types

Ontological modeling combines two notions:

  • modeling a system in the sense of the Object Management Group (OMG) modeling specifications (e.g. the Unified Modeling Language (UML) and the Systems Modeling Language (SysML))
  • describing a system according to a analyzable vocabulary for creating and reasoning about such descriptions in the sense of the World-Wide Web (W3C) Ontology Web Language (OWL) standard.

JPL developed frameworks and techniques to leverage the unique benefits of ontological modeling accross JPL's projects that have embraced the new paradigm of model-based systems engineering (MBSE). Currently, there is no standard for MBSE per se; however, there is a strong need for the analysis of systems models developed in the practice of MBSE. To address this need, JPL's Institutional Model-Centric Initiative (IMCE) developed an integration of the two leading standards for modeling (i.e. OMG's UML and SysML) and for ontologies (i.e. W3C's OWL, version 2). This integration involves several conventions, restrictions and patterns for using these standards to yield an analyzable coherent description of a system: an ontological model of that system. Evolving this integration to address the needs of JPL's MBSE practitioners led to the recognizing the need for a concise specification for ontological modeling; particularly one that does not require technical familiarities with the details of W3C's OWL standard or OMG's UML/SysML specifications. The OMF is precisely this concise specification of ontological modeling according to JPL's experience gained in the IMCE initiative.

The OMG core functional API adopts techniques from the field of functional programming languages, particularly Scala, for specifying the vocabulary of ontological modeling as a set of abstract types (that is, no commitment implied or assumed about any implementation of these abstract types) and a set of functional operations on these abstract types (that is, operations in the mathematical sense of pure functions that compute output values based on input values). This functional paradigm for specifying a domain allows a clean separation between the domain of ontological modeling (i.e., the focus of the OMF Core Functional API) from specific bindings for standards-based technology frameworks such as W3C's OWL, OMG's UML/SysML and, potentially, others. More importantly, the functional nature of this OMF Core API allows decoupling algorithms for analyzing, constructing, auditing, verifying, reasoning about OMF ontological models independently of the particular technology in which these ontological models are represented.

OMF: Schema, Tables & API

  • The OMF Schema specification defines the abstract syntax of OMF models via an Eclipse Xcore metamodel.

    In OMF a model is a terminology box graph; a particular configuration of a model is a terminology instance graph. Briefly, a terminology box graph describes classifiers of concepts, relationships & data. A terminology instance graph specifies particular individuals classified by definitions in a terminology box graph along with values of their data properties.

    The abstract syntax vocabulary pertaining to terminology box graphs is summarized in 3 diagrams:

  • The OMF Schema & Provenance Tables

    This is a polyglot library currently cross-compiled for two kinds of environments:

    • JVM, for Java and/or Scala applications
    • NPM, for JavaScript Node applications

    This library provides support for serializing and deserializing OMF models to/from Json representations of the 4th normal form OMF schema tables.

    For transformations to/from the OMG Tool Interoperability API, this library provides support for serializing and deserializing OMF to OTI Provenance represented as Json pairs of OMF & OTI identification keys.

  • The OMF/Core API (this project) is a strongly typed generic Scala API parameterized by an implementation type.

    Note that the OMF/Core API is currently behind w.r.t. the OMF Schema & Tables.


The OMF Scala Core relies extensively on techniques for functional programming in Scala. This project is built with Java 1.8 and Scala 2.11.4

Online training:

Books about Scala

Simple Build Tool, SBT

This project is built with SBT 0.13.7

To install SBT, use a package manager for your system (Linux, MacOSX, Windows,...), see:

Books about SBT

SBT Plugins used in this project

Building the OMF Scala Core

  • with the SBT command line
sbt -DJPL_MBEE_LOCAL_REPOSITORY=<directory path for a local Ivy2 repository (will be created if necessary)>

The SBT prompt will show:

omf-scala-core(<GIT branch>)>
  • with IntelliJ

File > New > Project from Existing Sources... Then choose SBT (not Eclipse,...) In SBT, configure the VM parameters to include:

-DJPL_MBEE_LOCAL_REPOSITORY=<directory path for a local Ivy2 repository (will be created if necessary)>

Then IntelliJ should be able to import the project properly.

Updating the license header

The text of the license header is in the build.sbt file, to force updating all source files, use the follwing command:

sbt formatLicenseHeaders

Building with SBT

sbt compile

Building with Eclipse

This is deferred: it is unclear how to use Eclipse to develop projects with artifact-based dependencies where project publish artifacts. Eclipse lacks a flexible artifact-aware build system like SBT.

There are artifact-aware build systems for Eclipse (e.g., Eclipse Maven Integration, Eclipse IvyDE, Eclipse Buckminster) However, these typically require using a very verbose XML-based Maven POM file; definitely much more cumbersome and complicated to maintain than an SBT build specification.

Finally, the reason is that very few open-source Scala projects use Eclipse alone. The vast majority of open-source Scala projects use SBT, in which case support for Eclipse is addressed via the SBT/Eclipse plugin, see:

Unit Tests

Just as the OMF Scala Core is a parameterized functional API, the unit tests are also parameterized. This means that the unit tests cannot be executed in the OMF Scala Core project as-is. However, these unit tests can be executed by binding the type parameter; see the OMF Scala binding projects for details.