Sunday, January 16, 2011

A new start

Friday was my last day at Mia-Software.

I started working at the Sodifrance group fifteen years ago already. And it has been a very exciting experience!

In 1995, I was working in Paris and I was looking for a new job. As I was hesitated between two propositions, I decided to call Jean Bezivin, who taught me Object-Oriented technologies three years before at Nantes. He asked me "Why don't you come back to Nantes? Yves Lennon, a good friend of mine, is developping software engineering tools in Smalltalk there. He is looking for developers like you". I immediately called Yves, we met, and he hired me.

My first project at Sodifrance was for MMA, an insurance company. This project, called SIGMMA, was a very ambitious re-development of the products and contracts management system in Smalltalk. I worked for three years on this project. I was responsible for designing the database schema and its mapping with the business objects implemented in Smalltalk. As these business objects was defined in Rational Rose with the Booch notation (UML was not existing yet), I developped lots of tools to exploit these models and generate Smalltalk code and Oracle queries.

When I left the project, I had the idea to develop a template-based code generator which could facilitate the development of specific code generators. I proposed this idea to Yves Lennon who said "Go!". In the same time, Java was taking off, with tools like VisualAge. I decide to use Java to develop my new tool which I called Scriptor. Thanks to internal projects which experimented the tool and helped me to improve it, Scriptor was selected in 1999 by Transpac, a France Telecom subsidiary, to generate VB code. It was the first one of a long list of other customers (Thales, Banque Populaire, BNP-Paribas, MAAF, Crédit du Nord, SNCF, etc).

In 2004, we created Mia-Software, as a Sodifrance subsidiary, to structure the R&D and to give a better visibility to the product. I took the CTO position. We renamed Scriptor to Mia-Generation. We added two other modules (Mia-Transformation, for model-to-model transformations and Mia-Documentation for documentation generation) and group these tools in a suite called Mia-Studio. We created also a new tool suite called Mia-Insight to package and distribute tools already developped by Sodifrance for application portfolio management and application mining.

In the same time, Sodifrance, which is the french leader in Software Modernization, has developped a new expertise in Software Migration by using Mia-Insight and Mia-Studio. Based on Model-Driven Engineering, the principle is to extract models from existing systems, to transform these models into models of the new system and to regenerate code from these new models. This approach has been used on lots of projects, for example to migrate VB6 code to C#, or Oracle Forms to JEE.

In 2006, we started a new research project called Modelplex, funded by the European Community. One of the partners was AtlanMod, the research lab leaded by Jean Bezivin. He had just created MoDisco, a new Eclipse project dedicated to the extraction of models from legacy systems. I proposed to Yves Lennon to take the opportunity of the Modelplex project to start developping open-source components and to contribute them to MoDisco. The objective was to develop a reference platform for software modernization projects based on Eclipse and OMG standards. Once again, Yves said "Go!".

Last year, MoDisco 0.8 has been released with Helios. We have presented the project to several Eclipse conferences already, and we know that many users are using its components (such as the Model Browser and the Java Discoverer). The Mia-Software team working on this project (Gabriel Barbier, Nicolas Bros, Grégoire Dupé, Fabien Giquel and Nicolas Guyomar) is very motivated, and Sodifrance has started to provide feedback from real modernization projects (for example to refactor JEE source code).

But after all these years working at Sodifrance and Mia-Software, I felt that I needed a new challenge.

That's why I accepted the Obeo proposition to be their Product Manager. I will mainly focus on Obeo-Designer and Obeo-Agility.

It was not an easy decision to take, but it has been well understood at Mia-Software. The transition went very well, and I'm confident that the products (Mia-Studio, Mia-Insight and Mia-Quality) and the Eclipse projects (MoDisco and EMF facet) are in good hands!

Now, I'm ready to take a new start!


  1. Good luck with the new start! And it was very interesting to read about your previous lives.

  2. Good luck, Fred, and welcome to the market!