Monday, May 16, 2005

Maia and Niam

For this second blog, it's a new subject and a blog dedicated to Maia, or MAIA (Méthode d'AIde à l'Analyse).

Maia is a modeling method designed and developed (with several CASE Tools) at the BNP Paribas, during the 1983-1986 period.

In these 80's year, it was a great battle between several modeling techniques in France, Europe and in North America.

Relational DBMS started to be used really in large IT organizations and the classical analysis methods were inappropriate.

Changes in modeling became mainly from DBMS modeling gurus with basically three approaches for the data modeling part:

  • The first one was to work at the logical level with mainly Bachman's diagram for Codasyl (IDS/2 and co) or hierarchical DBMS (IMS and co), and for some experts mathematical n-ary relational diagrams with a normalization/denormalization process around the 5th NF theory (Codd, Date, Kent, etc..).
  • The second one was to work at the logical/conceptual level with the Entity-Relation ships approach (Peter Chen in the USA, Merise (Hubert Tardieu, Yves Tabourier, Arnold Rochfeld, etc...) in France, IDA (François Bodart) in Belgium, etc..

    Even the boxology seems similar, a Merise MCD ("Modèle Conceptuel des Données") is different of an UML (Unified Modeling Language) Class diagram.
  • The third approach was to work clearly at the conceptual level with the Binary approach of Niam (GM Nijssen) at Control Data Corporation. Niam was inspired by the semantic network and the AI stuff.

We can observe the relativity of the IT marketing.
In this period the slogan, with the beginning of RDBMS market, was:

"The best is to separate totally the data and the process analysis. So the application should be able to be modified easily".

Few years (the frequency of each new technologic wave seems to be 5 years ...) after, the slogan was the opposite with the aficionados of the object approach with an encapsulation of the process (i.e. the methods) inside the objects.

The main approaches for the process modeling part were:

  • The first one was to work with data flow diagram decomposition (Yourdon, De Marco), like in SA, SADT (Douglas T. Ross), etc..
  • The second one was to work with Petri nets like diagram (Merise, IDA). It came from the European IT community.

BNP Paribas finished the project "Project control method" with the choice of SDMS as method infrastructure. The French name was MSP ("Méthode Standard de Projet") and was an adaptation of the US materials, with a lot information inside it.
And a lot of papers to manipulate....
Too much paper in one main reason developers aren't fan from methodology!

I was hired at the BNP Paribas by André Ruff to take the lead of the project "Modeling method".

This blog is the first of a set of blogs dedicated to this Maia project, for the 1983-1986 periods.

It was for me a very important period, because it was the beginning of my conceptual IT activities with Niam/Maia at the BNP Paribas, before GraphTalk at Xerox and Parallax Software Technologies.

I presented several years ago during a French modeling seminar some slides to explain the continuity of this two periods of my professional story, and the mapping we can made between Niam/Maia and GraphTalk. It will be developed later in other blogs


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