For some domains, it is possible to derive a representation scheme that is at once conceptual and formal (i.e., one that both describes and prescribes). Moreover, for relatively mature domains it may be possible to transform automatically the formal model into its implementation. If this can be done, then the software process reduces to a conceptual modeling activity where the model serves as an as-built specification of the target system. (In contrast, the three-step process views the formal model as a build-to specification.)
The domain of interactive information systems is sufficiently mature to support this development paradigm. During the past 14 years, this fact has been demonstrated with an environment that (among other things) has been used to build and maintain a million-line clinical information system that supports life-threatening decision making. This environment maintains a data base (described as relations) that contains the conceptual model and the transformations used to realize the implementation.
This talk considers the knowledge necessary for the automatic generation of applications, how such knowledge may be classified and organized, and the implications of adopting this alternative paradigm. Experience with the Johns Hopkins Oncology Clinical Information System (OCIS) is summarized.