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Software & Service Technologies

A Newsletter about SW&ST in FP6

Issue n° 2, April 2003


News & Events
Project Information
Readers' Opinion

This newsletter is a supplement to the Web site above for the domain of Software Technologies within the Community RTD programme for creating a user friendly Information Society (IST Programme). Through the IST Programme, the D3 unit in DG Information Society continues previous efforts under the Esprit and FP5-IST programmes in supporting software and service technologies in Europe. Here you will find snapshots of our activities at regular intervals. More details are available on our Web site, including a list of events.

D3 Scientific Staff
(listed with main domain)

Jacques Bus
Head of Unit
(email removed)

David Callahan
Software Technologies and Related Policie s
(email removed)

Peter Diry
Service Technologies: Open Platforms
(email removed)

Jean-François Junger
Software Technologies: Free/Open Source Software
(email removed)

Vassilis Kopanas
Software Technologies: CBSE, Process Improvement
(email removed)

Michel Lacroix
Software Technologies: Open Platforms
(email removed)

Charles Macmillan
Service Technologies: Agent Technology
(email removed)

Angelo Marino
Software Technologies: Dependability, Architecture
(email removed)

Vassilis Kopanas

All comments are welcome.
Please send your comments to: (email removed)

If you want to receive this newsletter regularly, just send an e-mail to this address, putting as subject "Subscribe to newsletter".

The aim of this newsletter is to enhance public access to information concerning some of the initiatives of DG Information Society. While an attempt is made to bring only timely and accurate information, the European Commission does not accept any responsibility or liability whatsoever regarding the content.


FOREWORD by Jacques Bus, Head of Unit D3

With the occasion of the signature of the Accession Treaty in Athens earlier this month, the April issue of our newsletter is a special issue on the participation of Associated Candidate Countries (ACC) in IST and more specifically in the area of Software Technologies.

Already in FP5, IST paid particular attention to the proper integration of ACC organisations to the programme. Through the special provision alone, of adding ACC partners to running IST projects (available after call 5) 130 IST projects submitted proposals for ACC extensions involving 426 ACC organisations. A good part (75 proposals) have been retained for funding, resulting to 14.7 million Euro being allocated to 221 ACC organisations.

In the area of Software Technologies, during FP5, a total of 22 projects with ACC participation were contracted. In these projects, 40 ACC organisations participated as contractors (40% universities and research institutes and 60% industrial and commercial organisations and public administrations) sharing a total budget (cost) of 6.5 million Euro and total EC contribution of 3.9 million Euro. The projects covered a wide spectrum of themes including software engineering, service engineering, information management and Free/Open Source Software.

In FP6 the rules of participation specify equal rights and obligations between Member State and ACC organisations. Enhanced participation rights (as compared to FP5) combined with the acquired experience from FP5 participation should lead ACC organisations to an even more successful participation in FP6.

ACC organisations might very well find their place in IPs and NoEs in FP6. What they should certainly not underestimate is the opportunity offered by the 'smaller' instruments (STREPs, CAs, SSAs) which anyway represent on average a good 30% of the budget of different Strategic Objectives. These instruments do not require the heavy management and administration infrastructure of IPs and NoEs and might very well accommodate and certainly be coordinated by ACC organisations.

In the 'Projects' section of this special issue we present a sample of six FP5 projects in Software Technologies where ACC participation has proven to be very beneficial both for the project and the ACC organisation itself. All six cases demonstrate the high level of technical competence of ACC researchers and the serious and professional attitude of ACC participants involved in collaborative research work.

We hope that these cases will act as a source of inspiration and encouragement for ACC organisations wishing to participate to FP6 and help removing any doubts from consortia wishing to accommodate ACC participants in joint proposals. The common final objective should anyway be the deeper an more substantial integration of ACCs in IST FP6 and the success of the IST Programme itself.



Information Day on 'Open Development Platforms for Software and Services' (June 4-5, 2003 - Brussels)

This event will be the main information day organised by unit D3 for call 2. It will include presentations on general issues such as FP6, IST, and guidance of potential proposers, coupled with more specialised sessions related to the Strategic Objective addressed. Issues related to contractual matters, IPR and licensing, as well as cross-programme issues related to Free/Open Source Software will be addressed through dedicated sessions. Ample time will be set aside for attendees and especially potential proposers, to present and discuss project ideas and establish partnerships. The event will be soon announced officially in /ist/events/events.htm .



Component+: Run-time testing of software components

Component+ ( ) developed a new technology and methodology for built-in-testing (BIT) in software components. The main activities were: to develop a theoretical framework for BIT in CBSE, develop a practical technology for implementing BIT software components, verify the feasibility of the BIT technology in case studies and verify the usability of the BIT technology in pilot projects.

Component+ had initially seven partners from six countries. In the summer 2002 the project was extended with five partners from four ACC. They were:

  • 4D Soft, Hungary, a software house with two profiles: development of integrated component-based software and research in software engineering and testing tools.
  • ISoft, Bulgaria, a software house, which develops systems for the enterprise, science and administration arenas.
  • Rodan Systems, Poland, one of the major developers of information systems in the country.
  • Tallinn Technical University, Estonia, a university for high-level research and development in technology, science and management.
  • University of Rousse, Bulgaria, a state autonomous educational and scientific institution for research and education in fundamental, applied-technical and humanitarian sciences.

The new partners entered the project to carry out five new pilot projects. The technical goal with the ACC participation was to assess the BIT technology for software components and to verify the methodology for assessment and evaluation.

Metrics for the new projects were well defined and reworked based on experience from initial work on assessment and evaluation in Component+. The metrics used were: effort, size and defects in development of components in the partners real-world software systems. Components were developed in both a BIT and a non-BIT version, when a partner did not have old measurement data for comparison.

The evaluation of the project with the extended measurements from the ACC partners showed that the BIT technology is much more than a new technology for testing components. The BIT technology has impact on almost all parts of the development process as well as most parts of the developed components. Developers have to think about testing early in the development process. Furthermore, it was shown that the BIT technology can help increase the quality of the components and decrease assembly effort with about 50 %.

The inclusion of the ACC partners worked very smoothly and there was generally consensus on what to do, what to measure and how to evaluate. Through the work of the ACC partners: five additional organisations have used the technology successfully, the pilot projects gave good measurements, valuable opinions were provided about benefits and drawbacks of the technology and five real-life working systems were produced.

Some of the lessons learned include the following: European projects is a good idea offering people from different countries with different culture, education and experience the opportunity to work together. It is always difficult to have a group of people to go in the same direction. Finally, software measurements is a difficult task.

ExPlanTech : Agent-based Production Planning

The major objective of the ExPlanTech Trial ( ) was to introduce and customise a novel multi-agent production planning technology (the ProPlanT system) in two specific industrial cases, in Greece and the Czech Republic, demonstrating a new quality of project-driven production planning that builds on multi-agent engineering and distributed processing. This multi-agent technology, as compared to the traditional solutions, offers new opportunities to adapt the industrial manufacturing to the more demanding customer needs while optimising resource utilisation, decision processes and supplier chains. Moreover, the aim was to integrate the customised ProPlanT prototype into the existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems at end-user sites.

ExPlanTech was almost equally balanced as far as partnership was concerned with partners from Greece and Czech Republic. The Czech partners were:

  • The Gerstner Laboratory of the Czech Technical University (CTU FEE) as Technology Supplier for the Multi-Agent Systems technology, with the responsibility to manage the transition from the classical planning and scheduling mechanisms to the process of negotiation, job delegation and task decomposition within a community of autonomous agents,
  • CertiCon from Czech Republic as IT Solution Provider, which adopted the ProPlanT technology and was responsible for its integration in a real environment
  • Liaz Pattern Shop from Czech Republic, which acted as end-user who benefited from the application of this new technology.

The technology transfer exercise for the Czech partner Liaz has been successfully carried out due to close cooperation and communication between all partners having been established since the beginning of the project.

The technology transfer from the technology provider (Gerstner Laboratory) to the technology user (CertiCon) was carried out smoothly within the project (ProPlanT prototype and documentation, agent technology consultation, FIPA and JADE technology training). Both partners collaborated together in ProPlanT technology deployment at the Liaz pattern shop site. Full support from the Liaz management has been an important factor for the success of the project.

All Czech partners managed to deploy the technology by integrating the ExPlanTech multi-agent system within the enterprise resource planning and material management systems at Liaz. The technology transfer experiment was successfully tested and evaluated at the Liaz factory.

Throughout the project, CertiCon has been exposed to the agent technology and multi-agent systems, that represent the latest technological advancements in the software industry and computer and information science. Gerstner Laboratory provided CertiCon with solid, comprehensive and ready-to-deploy knowledge and know-how, which would have been hard to acquire by the software company without the close collaboration with the academia.

Apart from the technology, CertiCon has gained expertise in software development and solutions in the field of manufacturing through successful implementations of production planning and scheduling systems. Even though the ExPlanTech multi-agent system has been tailored to production requirements and specifics of the Liaz manufacturing site, CertiCon intends to disseminate and further deploy the technology within local and European companies, particularly in the automotive industry.

MiningMart : Knowledge discovery in very large databases

The MiningMart project was about supporting the pre-processing part of knowledge discovery in very large databases. This pre-processing phase consumes normally up to 80% of the efforts in knowledge discovery, but has not been supported by commercial products.

The MiningMart system supports pre-processing for data mining in three ways:

  • a set of operators for data transformation including sampling and feature selection directly accesses very large databases
  • meta-data about business data, application concepts, and a sequence of pre-processing steps (a case) are described in a language M4 and stored as database tables
  • graphical user interfaces present a case with its steps, hence easing the design, documentation and adaptation of successful knowledge discovery processes.

The MiningMart system provides users with successful cases of knowledge discovery which can be adapted to users' needs. Currently, three such cases are available through the internet interface of the MiningMart project. A case is described at the meta-level. The meta-data of a case consist of three components: the data model, the conceptual model, and the case model with all the operators in a sequence. A successful case can be applied to new business data corresponding to the same conceptual model.

Given the meta-data about the concepts and the case, the user links the description of the new business data with the conceptual model. A compiler then generates running SQL code. Hence, successful cases together with the abstract conceptual model can be exchanged without neglecting the confidentiality of business data.

The ACC partners who joined the project are the University of Economics of Prague and the National Institute of Telecommunications at Warsaw. At Prague, operators for grouping and discretisation have been developed. At Warsaw, the MiningMart system was applied to a knowledge discovery task which is in actual use at the institute. The comparison between handling the task using SAS and using MiningMart was the first real-world evaluation of the system and was extremely successful.

The collaboration with the ACC partners was stimulating and productive from the very beginning. Since the new partners did not experience the initial discussions inside the project, they could prove how understandable and easy to use the system is. The Polish partner used the system as an end-user and they provided the project with a realistic evaluation. The Czech partner enhanced the system with new operators demonstrating how easy the extension of the system is and how the system must be described in order to facilitate its further extension.

Hence, both the ACC partners offered the project a valuable "outsiders view" even during the development time. Of course, they ended up with an "insiders view" and became true and acknowledged team members in the consortium. For more information on the project and the consortium see

P2People : Developing open source tools for 'Common Interests Search' and collaboration

P2People ( ) is an IST funded initiative aiming at developing open source "common interest" user search tools and a full collaboration platform based on an emerging peer-to-peer (P2P) protocol stack known as JXTA. While most innovation efforts in P2P focus on sharing of files and other resources, P2People's focus is on people. The project investigates innovative ways to allow users discover other users with whom they share "common interests". On this basis collaborative/communication sessions can be further established.

The initiative is being led by Quality Objects, a Spanish based software company, which has organised a consortium that also comprises the University of Murcia from Spain, the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas/ Informatics & Telematics Institute from Greece and a team from the University of Ljubljana (UoL).

The P2People teams are designing an open framework that will allow for a user to publish information about his own profile containing a description of his interests and the applicable collaborative channels used to communicate with other users. The platform also focuses on fundamental issues such as privacy security, reputation and anti-spam mechanisms in a distributed system. In order to facilitate user-to-user and user-to-group collaboration, the tools developed by the P2People consortium provide the technology to create and manage all queries and negotiations between users in a user transparent way. The system does not require a user's interaction in order to search for "compatible" peers; instead the system searches and negotiates peer relationships autonomously based on the rules defined in the user profile.

When group formation brings people together, new modes of collaboration are requested. The P2People approach for exploring these issues is based on the concept of the "common interest group". A common interest group is a virtual community of users who share common interests, knowledge areas, business etc. Potential users of P2People may vary from Universities and science groups, professionals, non-profit organisations, file sharing enthusiasts, fans groups, corporations, etc. In order to enable collaboration of users that have previously established their relationships, the following collaboration channels are available: instant messaging, user presence/status discovery, e-mail, audio- and videoconferencing, file transfer, file sharing, screen sharing with remote control and the ability to establish micro-payment sessions (e-payment layer).

The University of Ljubljana is the biggest higher education institution in Slovenia. It consists of 20 faculties and 2 academies that currently offer courses to over 50,000 students in all major research fields. The team from UoL that contributes efforts to the P2People project comes from the laboratory for digital signal processing (department of telecommunications) of the faculty of electrical engineering. Although the theoretical background of the team is in signal processing theory, its researchers have gained considerable experience in networking, multimedia systems and service architectures, interactive TV systems and software development through participation in international research projects during the last decade.

The UoL team is responsible for developing all the collaborative services necessary for user collaboration with the exception of the e-payment layer. The team is taking existing functionality that is known from the client-server world, redesigning it and redeveloping it using the JXTA protocol stack. Although the collaborative services provided by P2People offer familiar user experience, this is not true for the underlying service architecture, since several architectural and implementation aspects need to be rethought when porting existing functionality into the distributed peer-to-peer world where centralised servers do not exist.

Although P2People is currently only in the middle of its development phase, the UoL team has already provided initial working prototypes of all requested modules that are being refined following an incremental design/implementation procedure adopted by the project. Furthermore, the UoL team contributes to the system architecture and provides relevant solutions to technical problems on a regular basis. In short, the lesson learned from the participation of the UoL team is positive. The team has both a strong theoretical background in their fields of expertise and the ability to develop quality open source software.

MECASP : Maintenance and adaptation of applications

MECASP ( ) is a development environment oriented towards maintenance, adaptation and follow-up of application upgrades. Through the appropriate tools, it aims to reduce the corresponding work loads. It enables these composite applications to be diffused more easily in ASP mode. Based on an open meta-model and using new technologies (XML), the project creates a universal development framework for the integration of existing and future tools and applications. It adds original automated merging tools when the components are upgraded in multiple directions. MECASP addresses professional developers and end-users, to whom it offers the possibility of creating new services intended for small and medium-sized groups (professional services, groupware and personal applications) and obtaining productivity gains related to cost, diffusion, reactivity, access.

The National Institute for Research and Development in Informatics (ICI), founded in 1970, is the leading Romanian centre of excellence in Information Technology (IT). Currently, by undertaking the scientific and technological priorities of this domain, ICI has become actively engaged in consolidating its prime position and in fostering its growth potential as a promoter of the knowledge-based information society in Romania. The main ICI object of activity consists in the elaboration of research and technological development in the area of information technology and data communications. In order to reach this target, ICI's experts carry out the following types of activity:

  • advanced and applied research in the framework of national as well as European research & development programs
  • system integration for large scale informatics projects
  • IT consulting services (feasibility studies, strategic planning, technical specs)
  • "turn - key" systems tailored to fit clients' specifications
  • development of general-purpose application software

ICI's technical staff consists of 50 senior researchers and 80 analysts and programmers, all of them specialised in a wide range of operating systems, programming environments, DBMSs and networking technologies.

Starting in 1993, in the framework of ESPRIT, EC-PECO, COPERNICUS, SAVE and IST programmes, ICI has been involved in over 40 European research activities (projects, networks of excellence, working groups). In 1997, ICI was appointed by Euro CASE as a contact-point for the European IST Prize. ICI is ISO 9001 certified for its scientific research and development activities.

As a partner in the MECASP project, the ICI team was essentially involved in all the work-packages completed so far, while being responsible for 3 of them (WP1, WP 2 and WP 5). The ICI team contributed on the following:

  • Investigation and analysis of the market offer with regard to existing tools and environments (a) similar to MECASP, (b) suitable to be used for MECASP development, (c) suitable to be integrated with MECASP as plug-in or add-on
  • Selection of the development platform for MECASP and, in particular, for the XML repository manager
  • Definition of the basic technical requirements concerning MECASP repository and repository manager
  • Design of the XML-based structure of the (generic and application) software (XML meta-models and models) in the MECASP repository
  • Study of the open source software suitable for the development of the XML repository manager
  • Specification, design, implementation and testing of the XML repository and repository manager for MECASP
  • Cooperation with the partners for the integration of the repository and repository manager with the browser and vertical tools
  • Elaboration of deliverables (fully or in cooperation with the partners) and elaboration of the dissemination and marketing plan for Romania
  • Dissemination of MECASP objectives and research results through papers submitted (some already accepted) to national and international conferences, workshops, symposia and through posters and presentations at exhibitions

The most important result of the Romanian team has been the definition and implementation of the XML repository manager architecture. It is based on open source products such as: CASTOR, Xindice, XML:DB, Slide. The repository manager has been implemented and tested in close cooperation with the development of the vertical tools. ICI from Romania was proven to be a serious and reliable partner and the MECASP partners are ready to set-up together with ICI further projects.

NEPTUNE : Checking and documenting UML models

NEPTUNE ( ) is an IST project managed by CS, in collaboration with the Universitat polytechnica de Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain), the Institut de Recherche Informatique de Toulouse (Toulouse, France), the University Babes-Bolyai (UBB, Cluj, Romania) and the companies GTD (Barcelona, Spain) and Novasys (Montreal , Canada).

The main objective of the NEPTUNE project (Nice Environment with a Process and Tools Using Norms and Example) is to develop a method and tools (complementary to existing software environments) based on the use of the UML notation to enable a) static check of UML models for their coherence and b) generation of professional documentation resulting from the transformation of models. This being compliant with the context of the UML notation and taking into account user's requirements. The method and tools developed in this way facilitate the application of the UML standard and promote its use in various fields including software development and business processes.

The UBB-CSRL laboratory ( ) was founded at the end of 1990 aiming at promoting research in the field of object-oriented technology and the actual involvement of the best students in this activity. All the members of the UBB team, except the head of the laboratory, were students at the time they were employed. If we refer only to the period 1995-1999, eleven of the members of the laboratory were granted, through selection, Ph.D. scholarships abroad (in Europe, US and Canada).

The average age of the UBB team is very young. All the members of the laboratory (except the head) are between twenty-two and twenty seven years of age but with a very high level of scientific competence in their field. Most of them are winners of national and international contests in Computing and Mathematics (e.g. Radu Lupsa won the first prize at the International Olympic Contest of Computer Science).

UBB-CSRL has a great experience in Object Oriented Projects, especially in the domains of case tools, UML, and formal checks. Prior to NEPTUNE, the main products designed and implemented in the UBB laboratory were the m FOOPS environment and the ROCASE tool. The first was meant to compile m FOOPS specifications and to translate them in C++ or Eiffel code. The second (ROCASE) is an object-oriented case tool designed first to support OMT, and later Syntropy methods. Now, ROCASE supports UML. The ROCASE 0.91b version presented at the 1998 edition of the International Information Technology Conference and Fair (CERF) obtained 'the best Romanian software' award. In September 1998, the same version, obtained the award for 'the best software implemented in a Microsoft environment' at the Romanian Software Producers Exhibition and Meeting.

The main UBB-CSRL contribution to the NEPTUNE project was:

  • to specify, design and implement a tool supporting UML model checking against a set of rules based on the consortium specifications and
  • dissemination of results in Romania and Eastern Europe (conferences, papers, publications and demonstrations).

The Romanian team designed and implemented the NEPTUNE OCL Checker and specified a new set of WFR for UML 1.4 and 1.5 versions. The implemented Checker takes into account 80% of the Consortium needs and is included in the NEPTUNE Tool as an add-on. Part of the obtained results were presented and published at International Conferences (ISM 2001, UML 2001, UML 2002, ECOOP 2002).


"ACC participation in FP5 and opportunities in FP6"

Dr. Miklos BIRO (email removed)

Technology Transfer Centre, BUESPA, Hungary

One of the recognised strengths of Associated Candidate Countries (ACC) is the generally high level of academic training in disciplines related to software, systems and services [1]. This strength has already been made good use of in hundreds of Information Society Technologies (IST) projects under the 5th Framework Programme (FP5). On the other hand, there were only few projects which were actually coordinated by companies form ACC in the past [2]. This is largely due to a weakness whose root is in the past economic systems of most ACC's, that is the relative lack of large scale managerial skills. The 6th Framework Programme (FP6) will not mean any relief in this respect. The new instruments, Integrated Projects (IP's) and Networks of Excellence (NoE's) require even more professional managerial skills and as early as the proposal preparation stage.

ICT companies having a good management in ACCs are mostly overwhelmed with two types of projects. The first type consists of software development outsourced from countries with higher wages exploiting the rise of the globally integrated knowledge economy. The second type consists of systems integration and customisation services the demand for which is high in the rapidly growing ACC countries, and which are difficult to perform elsewhere because of the need for local familiarity and cultural barriers [3].

These ACC companies, mostly SMEs can hardly spare resources for writing proposals whose success rate was around 20% in FP5 and will probably be lower in FP6. In fact, the same is often valid for Member State SMEs. This attitude leads however to a dead-end, since ICT is developing at a very high pace under the simultaneous pull effect of market needs and the push effect of major ICT provider businesses. Consequently, if SMEs in the ICT sector want to sustain their market position, they need exposure to the advanced requirements existing or surfacing in major ICT developer businesses. And it is this exposure which is one of the most significant benefits ACC SMEs could have obtained from participation in FP5.

One example of successful IST project with ACC participation among many others related to software technologies under FP5 was WG-ECUA (European COTS User Working Group). COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) software components were becoming an economic and strategic necessity for European organisations in a wide variety of application areas. The COTS User WG analysed the COTS market, assessed current practice and identified common problems in acquisition, management and integration of COTS, provided and shared solutions, co-ordinated the definition of requirements for COTS related projects at European level, promoted the achievement of consensus towards the definition of standards regarding COTS usage, and represented the interests of COTS users (especially SMEs) in international standardisation organisations. Participants at the WG-ECUA workshops could even benefit of US and Canadian experiences in addition to those of European members.

In FP6, an IP or NoE will probably involve or will even be coordinated by a major ICT organisation. This guarantees the exposure to advanced requirements and experiences which are necessary for long-term survival of an SME. But the same kind of exposure is also crucial for university ICT education and research whose inherent mission is to meet the needs of ICT industry providing graduates with appropriate knowledge and skills in the key components of ICT development: people, process, technology.

In summary, the key for obtaining these advantages is joining a winning IP or NoE. This is not an obvious job however. Good luck!


[1] IST Programme: Report of the IST Advisory Group concerning Software Technologies, Embedded Systems and Distributed Systems, A European strategy towards an Ambient Intelligent Environment (2002).

[2] Biro,M.; Ivanyos,J.; Messnarz,R. Pioneering Process Improvement Experiment in Hungary. Software Process: Improvement and Practice (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.) Volume 5, Issue 4, 2000. Pages: 213-229.
( )

[3] Biro,M; Messnarz,R; Davison,A.G. The Impact of National Cultural Factors on the Effectiveness of Process Improvement Methods: The 3d Dimension. Soft. Quality Professional (ASQ~American Soc. for Quality) Vol.4/4 (Sep.02)pp.34-41. (



Information Day for ACC (April 2, 2003 - Budapest)

This event was particularly meant for the Associated Candidate Countries and focused on the area of Software Technologies and Distributed Systems. The info day was attended by 96 persons: 50 from Hungary, 18 from EU Member States and the rest from other ACC (Slovenia, Romania, Poland, Turkey, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech Republic). Eleven attendants presented ideas for proposals and research interests, which was followed by lively discussions and networking. All presentations given during the info day are available at

A European Survey on CBSE

The CBSEnet project ( ) is conducting an international on-line survey on Component-Based Software Engineering (CBSE). The aim is to identify the current state-of-practice, as well as prospects and problems related to CBSE adoption in Europe. If your organisation is interested in the development or use of components, you are invited to fill-in the form found at . Your input will be treated confidentially and the analysis will be performed anonymously. If you provide an e-mail address, CBSEnet will send you the summary of the final outcome of the survey.