TOOL – A web browser-based modeling tool and observatory


In a nutshell, TOOL is a web application with a JavaScript-driven user interface (Web-browser-based frontend) and a Java EE (Enterprise Edition)-based server backend. Presently, TOOL implements two graphical modeling editors: (1) An editor for a variant of the Entity-Relationship Model (ERM) for data modeling and (2) an editor for a subset of the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) for business process modeling. For supporting modelers in general as well as learners of conceptual modeling in particular, the TOOL prototype implements an ad-hoc syntax validation to point to modeling errors as well as a feedback component to guide the modeling process by making recommendations for sensible and adequate labels based on Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques.

TOOL is not only a graphical modeling tool designed to make modeling processes more productive. For studying individual modeling processes both under laboratory conditions as well as in online settings, TOOL implements multi-modal observation and data generation techniques complementing different modes of observation of individual modeling processes. Currently, TOOL allows for (1) tracking modeler-tool interactions as timed-discrete events for visualizing modeling processes as heatmaps, dot diagrams, and to allow for stepwise replays of those interactions individually and in comparison with other modelers’ tracked interactions, (2) recording verbal data protocols of modeler’s thinking out loud following the tenets of think aloud research methods (including remotely in online studies), and (3) pre- and post-modeling surveying of studied subjects, e. g. about their prior modeling experience.

TOOL has been applied to both teaching and learning conceptual modeling, e.g., in university courses as well as to research studies on individual modeling processes, e.g., at the University of Hagen, the Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.


Chair EvIS | 13.08.2021