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OSEE/Developers Guide


Client Architecture

The central feature of OSEE is an extensible framework called the OSEE Application Framework. Default applications distributed with the OSEE framework are OSEE Define (for requirements management) and OSEE ATS (the Action Tracking System, for configuration management).

OSEE ArchitectureThe Application Framework provides all the necessary services to allow the applications to persist and share data in a common, version controlled object database. Just as Eclipse provides the ability to add a plugin to the existing Eclipse environment, so OSEE allows other applications to add plugins and share the common data store.

And just like Eclipse RCP allows an application to be built and deployed using the Eclipse framework but not include all the standard applications like JDT, OSEE allows an application to be built and deployed using the OSEE Application Framework without including such applications as OSEE Define and OSEE ATS.

Client/Server Architecture

In order to attain a greater degree of scalability, the Open System Engineering Environment (OSEE) has been slowly migrating into a distributed architecture where clients interact with an application server, which is in charge of managing access to an OSEE data store.

Additionally, in an effort to provide load balancing, failure recovery, and code compatibility, clients consult an arbitration server before connecting to an application server. The arbitration server's responsibility is to keep track of all the application servers interacting with a common data store and direct clients to a healthy application server compatible with the client's OSEE code version. In this arrangement, arbitration servers act as the initial access points into the OSEE server cloud where a collection of application servers manage client requests to access and operate on a common OSEE data store. Figure 1 shows an example of the OSEE Client/Server network.

Figure 1

In Figure 1, three application servers interact with a single OSEE data store. The data store is comprised of a relational database and a remote file system used to store binary data. It is not necessary for the database and the binary data to exist on the same machine; the only requirement is that the application servers have access to both resources. Upon start-up, each application server registers himself on the data store's server lookup table by entering its host address, port, supported code versions, and its unique id. When the arbitration server receives a request to find an application server to support a client connection, the arbitration server reads the data store's server lookup table and selects the best match for the client. The client requests this information from the arbitration server upon start-up or whenever it can't communicate with an application server. It is important to note that the arbitration server does not have to be a different server than an application server. All application servers are able to act as an arbitration server. An application server is referred to as an arbitration server when clients interact with it in this context. Figure 2 depicts the sequence of events involved in the arbitration process.

Figure 2

Once a client receives an application server's address and port information, the client must authenticate with the application server before it can gain access to the OSEE data store. During the authentication process, a client submits to the application server the current user's credential information and the authentication protocol id to use during the process. The application server verifies the user via the selected protocol and grants access to the data store by creating a session for the user. From this point forward, the application server will be responsible for managing access to the data store by identifying the user via the session id. Whenever a client wants to interact with the application server, it will need to submit its session id in order to gain access to the OSEE data store. Figure 3 shows the sequence of events involved in the authentication process.

Figure 3

Data Model

The OSEE framework is built around a user configurable and extensible data model consisting of attributes, artifacts, and relations. An attribute is a key-value pair representing a single data element such as a description, a date, a number, or a file. These basic data elements are grouped into artifacts. Artifacts can be configured to have any number of attributes. By default, an artifact will always have an attribute of type name. In addition, artifacts can be related to one another via relations. By default, an artifact will always have a default hierarchy relation type. This allows artifacts to be connected together in a tree. In the example below, two instances of the basic artifact type are shown. Artifact 1 has an attribute of type name set to string data "X". Artifact 2 has an attribute of type name set to string data "Y". These two artifact instances are related via the default hierarchy relation type. Artifact 1 is Artifact 2's parent artifact.

Basic artifact.png

Now that we have a basic understanding of the model, lets take a closer look at attributes and how they are defined.

An attribute is defined through its attribute type. The attribute type is a blue print for constructing attribute instances. It defines the type of data the will be held by the attribute, the data source or who provides it, how many instances can be created, default value to use during creation, whether the attribute can be tagged for word searches, and if the attribute holds file data, its file extension.

By default, data contained in the attribute can be represented through OSEE's basic data types:

  • String Attribute
  • Boolean Attribute
  • Integer Attribute
  • Floating Point Attribute
  • Date Attribute
  • Enumerated Attribute


OSEE provides three attribute data providers: the default attribute data provider, URI attribute data provider, and the Clob attribute data provider.

  • The default attribute data provider is used for data containing less than 4000 characters in length. Data is stored and retrieved from the OSEE relational database. Most attribute types will use this data provider to handle its data content.
  • The URI attribute data provider is used for large data. The provider communicates to the OSEE application server to store and retrieve data.
  • The Clob attribute data provider is a hybrid provider using both the OSEE relational database and the application server to retrieve and store data. When the data contained by the attribute has less than 4000 characters, the provider uses the relational database. If the data exceeds the 4000 character limit, then the application server is used.

Configuration Properties

OSEE can be configured by setting certain Java system properties when launching Eclipse and by setting various attribute values on the Global Preferences artifact in the datastore. Java system properties are key/value pairs and can be passed as launch arguments in the form of -D<key>=<value> (i.e. -Dosee.authentication.protocol=trustAll). These -D options can be specified directly in the command to launch Eclipse or in the corresponding .ini file for the eclipse executable used.

Datastore Preferences (via Global Preferences artifact)

Do a Quick Search on the Common branch for "Global Preferences" and open the resulting artifact in the artifact editor. The available attribute types for this artifact define what can be configured. Each attribute is self-documenting, because the attribute tip text documents how to use each one.

Common Java System Properties

System Property Name Values Default Description
osee.connection.info.uri [FILE SYSTEM PATH] File system path or uri containing custom database connection information.
osee.db.connection.id <db identifier> Default from db.connection file Specifies which database OSEE should connect to. This id references connection information specified in the ...db.connection.xml file. Refer to the Database Connection Information section for more information.
osee.jini.forced.reggie.search true, false false If true, adds the lookupList to the global lookup list such that a refresh will try to locate the service again
osee.jini.lookup.groups user defined group name the Jini Group that all OSEE provided Jini services will register with
osee.log.default FINE, INFO, WARNING, SEVERE WARNING the default logging level for all loggers
osee.port.scanner.start.port 1 - 65535 18000 the first port number to test for availability when a new port is needed

Application Server Java System Properties

System Property Name Values Default Description
org.osgi.service.http.port 1 - 65535 -1 Port the client will use to communicate with the OSEE Application Server
osee.application.server.data [FILE SYSTEM PATH] User Home A directory on the file system to be used by the application server to store and serve artifact binary data.
osee.derby.server [<address>:<port>] When specified, this system property sets the URL used to launch a derby database server.
osee.application.server.data [FILE SYSTEM PATH] User Home A directory on the file system to be used by the application server to store and serve artifact binary data.
osee.version [<"version 1">;<"version 2">] When specified, this system property sets the application server's supported client versions. NOTE: version string can use regular expressions
osee.check.tag.queue.on.startup true, false false When specified, this system property allows the application server to check the tag queue and begin tagging and pending tag jobs.

Client Java System Properties

System Property Name Values Default Description
osee.application.server [http://<address>:<port>] When specified, this system property sets the URL used to reference the application server and arbitration is bypassed.
osee.arbitration.server [http://<address>:<port>] The arbitration server address and port to use. This system property must be specified for the system to gain access to OSEE data. If the application server property is set then that address takes precedence and arbitration is bypassed.
osee.authentication.protocol protocol name protocol to be used by the client to authenticate with the server
osee.choice.on.db.init choice name the predefined database initialization choice
osee.file.specified.schema.names.on.db.init true, false false Specifies whether OSEE database initialization should use the schema names specified in the schema.xml files instead of using the connection schema. Using the connection specified schema is the default behavior.
osee.import.from.connection.id.on.db.init [FILE SYSTEM PATH] Specifies where table data should be imported from during OSEE database initialization. The default is to use the database connection id specified in the schema.xml files.
osee.import.on.db.init true, false false Specifies whether OSEE database initialization should import database data as part of its tasks.
osee.local.application.server true, false false When set to true launches an application server upon start up. Uses org.osgi.service.http.port arg to determine port to use.
osee.local.http.worker.port <port> Port Scan starting from 18000 Port to use for local worker server.
osee.prompt.on.db.init true, false true Specifies whether to interactively prompt the user during database initialization for init choice
osee.record.activity true, false true Specifies whether user activity should be logged
osee.ote.benchmark true, false
osee.ote.cmd.console true, false Specifies whether to enable the OTE command console
osee.ote.server.title free text name name given to the OTE server which is displayed in the test manager
osee.ats.ignore.config.upgrades true, false

Database Connection Information

To define a custom database connection for the application server, a path to an xml with the following format is required when launching the application server. This path will need to be specified using the osee.connection.info.uri and osee.db.connection.id JVM arguments on launch.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>

<DatabaseInfo id="postgresqlInfo" >
   <DatabaseHome key="#DBHOME#" value="DATABASE HOME LOCATION" />
   <DatabaseName key="#DBNAME#" value="DATABASE NAME" />
   <DatabaseType key="#TYPE#" value="postgresql" />
   <Prefix key="#PREFIX#" value="jdbc:postgresql" />
   <UserName key="#USERNAME#" value="DATABASE USERNAME" />
   <Password key="#PASSWORD#" value="DATABASE PASSWORD" />
   <Host key="#HOST#" value="@AvailableDbServices.hostAddress" />
   <Port key="#PORT#" value="@AvailableDbServices.port" />

<ConnectionDescription id="postgresql" >

   <Server id="ANY NAME" dbInfo="postgresqlInfo" 
           hostAddress="DATABASE IP ADDRESS" port="DATABASE PORT" 
           connectsWith="postgresql" isProduction="false" />

The sample file above defines PostgreSql connections but it can be changed easily to define oracle or derby connections.

The file is divided as follows:

  • Database Info: This entry describes the database to connect to by defining the database name, database home location and user name (or schema) and password to use during connection. When using the OSEE PostgreSql installation instructions, the fields should be set to the following:
    • DATABASE HOME LOCATION: not used therefore remove the value field from this attribute
  • Connection Description: This entry describes how the database connection url should be assembled. At connection time, the fields enclosed in ## are substituted with the information defined in the database info section. There shouldn't be a need to change this unless you want to connect to a database other than PostgreSQL.
  • Available Database Services: This section contains entries for each database server and connection option needed at launch time. An entry is referenced at launch time by calling out the entry id in the osee.db.connection.id argument. When using a local OSEE PostgreSql install, the attributes on a server entry should be set to the following:
    • id: any meaningful name to identify this entry
    • hostAddress: localhost
    • port: 5432 (the default PostgreSql port)
    • isProduction: false unless you want to prevent clients from initializing the database

Custom Data Model

The data model in OSEE is extensible and user configurable. Users can define new artifact, attribute, and relation types and their constraints such as multiplicity and applicability. Type inheritance allows similar types to be defined and modified without tedious redundancy because similar types inherit what is common from their super type.

The OSEE data model is defined using a tabular format involving 5 tables. See the following xml spreadsheet ProgramAndCommon.xml for an example.

The full data model can be defined using a single spreadsheet or be divided among multiple spreadsheets that can reference types defined in any spreadsheet.

Artifact Type Table

Column Name Description
Artifact Type Name any valid UTF-8 characters with a max length of 75 bytes
Super Type Name The super artifact type from which this type will inherit associated attributes and relations. Another concrete artifact type or an abstract one that exists only in data model definition.

Artifact Factory

When defining new artifact types, by default, the Java class used to create the artifact at runtime is org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.artifact.Artifact. When a specialized subtype of Artifact is desired, the extension point org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.ArtifactFactory can be used to contribute an artifact factory that extends the class org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.artifact.ArtifactFactory. The factory's isResponsibleFor(String artifactTypeName) method determines if a particular factory will be used to construct an artifact of a given artifact type. Thus the artifact factory extension point can be used to case user defined artifact types to be constructed at runtime using a custom Java class that extends Artifact.

Attribute Type Table

Column Name Description
Attribute Base Type

Fully qualified java class name of a class that extends org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.attribute. The typical and simplest case is to specify one of the built-in types:

  • org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.BooleanAttribute
  • org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.CompressedContentAttribute
  • org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.JavaObjectAttribute
  • org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.DateAttribute
  • org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.FloatingPointAttribute
  • org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.IntegerAttribute
  • org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.StringAttribute
  • org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.EnumeratedAttribute
  • org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.WordTemplateAttribute
  • org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.WordWholeDocumentAttribute

If a custom java type that extends Attribute is needed, then that type should be specified here.

Attribute Data Provider The attribute data provider is responsible for storing and retrieving attribute data. Fully qualified java class name of a class that implements org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.attribute.providers.IAttributeDataProvider. org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.DefaultAttributeDataProvider may be used when the data to be stored does not exceeded 4000 bytes, otherwise org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.UriAttributeDataProvider may be used.
Attribute Type Name Any valid UTF-8 characters with a max length of 500 bytes
File Extension Any valid UTF-8 characters with a max length of 50 bytes; only applies when using the org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.UriAttributeDataProvider
Tagger ID If the attrbiute’s content is to be included in the search index for the quick search, use DefaultAttributeTaggerProvider, otherwise leave blank.
Default Value The initial value given an attribute upon initialization, this may be left blank
Validity Xml For the attribute base type org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.EnumeratedAttribute, specifies the valid enumerations. For example, <Page_Type><Enum>Portrait</Enum><Enum>Landscape</Enum></Page_Type>
Min Occurrence The framework with prevent having lest than this number of this attribute type on a single artifact
Max Occurrence The framework with prevent adding more than this number of this attribute type to a single artifact
Tip Text Text to describe an attribute. Any valid UTF-8 characters with a max length of 4000 bytes

Artifact Type / Attribute Type Mapping Table

Column Name Description
Artifact Type Name Exact name of an artifact type defined above (or previously)
Attribute Type Name Exact name of an attribute type defined above (or previously) to be associated with the corresponding artifact type

Relation Type Table

Column Name Description
Relation Type Name Any valid UTF-8 characters with a max length of 50 bytes
Side A Name Descriptive name for the A side of the relation. Any valid UTF-8 characters with a max length of 50 bytes
A to B Phrase An optional phrase that describe the relation between the artifacts from the side A perspective. Any valid UTF-8 characters with a max length of 50 bytes
Side B Name Descriptive name for the B side of the relation. Any valid UTF-8 characters with a max length of 50 bytes
B to A Phrase An optional phrase that describe the relation between the artifacts from the side B perspective. Any valid UTF-8 characters with a max length of 50 bytes
Short Name Five or less characters is typical. This abbreviated name is used in the user interface when space is at a premium
Ordered Yes to have artifacts on the same side of this relation type use a user defined ordered, otherwise No

Artifact Type / Relation Type Mapping Table

Column Name Description
Artifact Type Exact name of an artifact type defined above (or previously)
Relation Type Exact name of an relation type defined above (or previously)
Side A Max An artifact of type "Artifact Type" can be on side "A", "Side A Max" number of times for relation links of type "Relation Type"
Side B Max An artifact of type "Artifact Type" can be on side "B", "Side B Max" number of times for relation links of type "Relation Type"

Importing an OSEE Data Model

To import changes to the data model for an existing OSEE database:

  1. Navigate to the Project Explorer (Resource Perspective) or the Package Explorer (Java Perspective)
  2. Select a file or folder containing the OSEE data model
  3. Right click and select Import...
  4. Under the OSEE category, select OSEE Types

To automatically import the data model during database initialization use the extension point org.eclipse.osee.framework.skynet.core.OseeTypes

Configuring ATS for Change Tracking

Configuring ATS for Change Tracking

Custom OSEE Operations using BLAM

the extension point org.eclipse.osee.framework.ui.skynet.BlamOperation can be used to contribute a custom OSEE operation that provides the developer a very quick way to define the graphical interface that supplies the operation with the user specified parameters. org.eclipse.osee.framework.ui.skynet.blam.operation.ChangeArtifactTypeBlam provides a simple example.

Building OSEE using PDE Build

Install Eclipse

Download and install the Eclipse Classic Download available at the bottom of this page. Do this even if you already have an install of Eclipse or OSEE, in order to avoid mysterious build problems later on.

Install Plug-ins

Open the Install utility (Help > Install New Software...).

  • SVN Connectors:
  • SVN PDE Build:
  • Install BIRT:
    • Go to http://download.eclipse.org/birt/downloads/ and click the yellow "Framework" button to download a .zip file containing the BIRT update site.
    • Extract the zip file to a temporary directory.
    • From Eclipse's software installation utility,
      • Select Add..., and then Local...
      • Find the temporary directory containing the contents of the .zip file and select the eclipse directory it contains.
    • Select the feature "BIRT Chart Framework".
    • Install and restart.
    • The .zip archive and temporary directory can now be deleted.
  • Install GEF:
    • Go to http://www.eclipse.org/gef/downloads/ and download the All-In-One Update Site.
    • In Eclipse, go to Help > Install New Software... > Add...
      • Click Archive... and select the .zip file retrieved from the GEF download page.
      • Select:
        • Graphical Editing Framework Draw2d SDK
        • Graphical Editing Framework GEF SDK
        • Graphical Editing Framework GEF Zest Visualization Toolkit
      • Install and restart.
  • Install XText:
    • Work with: http://download.itemis.com/updates/milestones
    • Check Group items by category
    • Select all of the following features:
      • EMFT COMPARE SDK (Incubation) 1.0.0RC5b
      • emft-mwe 0.8.0M2
      • m2t-xpand 0.8.0M2
      • tmf-xtext 0.8.0M2
      • Xtext Antlr Support 0.8.0M2
    • Install and restart.
  • Install EMF:
  • Install Mylyn Wikitext support:

If Using Windows

  • Get the Subversion Binaries: http://subversion.tigris.org/getting.html
  • Put SVN in the path:
    • On Windows:
      • Go to Control Panel > System > Advanced > Environment Variables and scroll down to Path in the second combo box.
      • Click Edit.
      • Add the path to the SVN bin directory. Paths are semicolon-delimited.
  • Configure SVN's proxy settings:
    • In Explorer, open the %APPDATA%\Subversion folder.
    • Edit the servers file in Wordpad.
    • At the bottom, under [global], enter your proxy host and port. For example:
http-proxy-host = www-my-proxy.mydomain.com
http-proxy-port = 99999

SVN Checkout

In Eclipse, open the SVN Repository perspective and check out the following SVN project:


Execute the following from the command line to build:

eclipsec -nosplash -application org.eclipse.ant.core.antRunner -buildfile <workspace path>\org.eclipse.osee.support.build\support\osee_client_build.xml -DdownloadOrbitPlugins=true
eclipse -console -nosplash -application org.eclipse.ant.core.antRunner -buildfile <workspace path>/org.eclipse.osee.support.build/support/osee_client_build.xml -DdownloadOrbitPlugins=true

Helpful links

Design Questions

Is OSEE an application framework or an application?

The simple answer is BOTH. OSEE Application Framework is created to allow applications to be built on top and share the common data model. This can be used independently of any OSEE applications. In addition, there are applications that are delivered with and use the OSEE Application Framework. This includes a full featured Requirements and Document Management System (OSEE Define), a powerful change tracking and configuration management application (OSEE ATS - Action Tracking System), a fully customizable peer-review module and other project, reporting and metrics tools. These application can be used out-of-the-box and new applications can be created or integrated on the framework to share and contribute to the same data.

Other products sound similar. Why OSEE?

  • Open Source Extensible Platform
  • Open Eclipse Project w/ Collaboration
  • Tight Integration Around A Common Data Model
  • Full Lifecycle Engineering Environment

Is OSEE only for Avionics Engineering?

No. OSEE's was created by The Boeing Company in support of the Apache AH-64 Attack Helicopter flight control software. Although it was created to handle the complexity of a large US Department of Defense program, it was architected to support any systems engineering project from a simple application built for a single customer to a large complex application like the Apache flight controls. In addition, since OSEE is an independent application, the OSEE development team uses OSEE to develop, deploy and maintain OSEE.

What is Skynet?

Skynet is a legacy term for the persistence portion of the OSEE Application Framework.

What are Artifact Framework types?

OSEE provides Artifacts, Attributes and Relations that are strongly typed. This means that the user can create their own artifact type, for example a "Software Requirement" to represent the requirements at a software level and their own attribute types, for example a "Qualification" attribute or a "Safety Criticality" attribute and event their own relations, for example a "Software Requirement to Allocation" relation. These types are defined in the Artifact Framework and can be created dynamically in the system during database creation or while running. This allows the end user to expand the data that is being stored in OSEE without providing a new release.

What is the Action Tracking System (ATS)?

The Action Tracking System is the tightly integrated configuration management system built in OSEE and very tightly integrated with the OSEE Application Framework. It uses a powerful workflow engine to provides a fully customizeable workflow to track improvements, problems and support for any number of teams/tools/programs simultaneously. This gives the user a single point view into all the work that they are required to do.

Why build yet another bug tracking tool like the Action Tracking System (ATS)?

Although there are a number of open source and commercial bug tracking systems available, OSEE's goal to integrate workflow management and provide a tight integration with the Application Framework, and the applications built on top, required us to develop ATS. ATS is meant to be more than simple bug tracking since it can be used to manage multiple teams working on multiple products or support simultaneously. This means that you can create a single "Action" to "Fix the XYZ capability" that will create the necessary workflows for all the teams that need to perform work. For example, a workflow may be created for not only the Software Development team, but also the test team, documentation team, integration team and even facilities like labs or conference rooms. Each team then moves independently through its workflow to perform the work necessary for the common "Action". In addition, ATS enables complete customization of different workflows for each configured team. This means that the documentation team can follow their own "process" which may contain 5 different states while the application developers can follow their own more complex "process" which may contain 30 different states.

How does OSEE handle traceability?

Traceability is handled in OSEE through the use of Relations. These relations can be defined in OSEE according to their need and the users can then add and remove these relations throughout the lifecycle of the requirements or other artifacts. Deliverable documents or any report generation would also use this traceability.

What is Define?

OSEE Define is OSEE's advanced Requirements and Document Management System. OSEE Define can be used to track a simple application's requirements, code and test or configured to support a large program doing concurrent development with multiple parallel builds and manage requirements for multiple product lines simultaneously. Although any application file (document) can be stored and managed, OSEE Define is tightly integrated with Microsoft Word(c) to store and manage individual requirement objects (stored in XML) and provide advanced features like index based searching and showing differences between historical changes. Integrated tightly with the Action Tracking System, OSEE Define can be configured to provide advanced configuration management for any set of requirements object.