Models are now part of an increasing number of engineering processes (such as software engineering). However, in most cases, they are still confined to a simple documentation role instead of being actively integrated into the engineering process.

As opposed to this passive approach, the field of Model-Driven Engineering (MDE) aims to consider models as first class entities. It also considers that the different kinds of handled items (such as the tools, the repositories, etc.) can be viewed and represented as models. The model-driven approach supposes to provide model designers and developers with a set of operations dedicated to the manipulation of models.

In this context, model transformation appears to be a central operation for model handling: it aims to make it possible to specify the way to produce a number of target models based on a set of source models. In the scope of the model-driven engineering, it is assumed that model transformations, as any other model-based tool, can be modeled, which means that they have to be considered themselves as models.

This section aims to provide an overview of the main MDE concepts, with a particular focus on model transformation. To this end, it first presents the organization of the model-driven architecture. This first section addresses the model definition mechanisms that constitute the core of the MDE area: it introduces the notions of models, metamodels and metametamodels, as well as the conformance relation that relates these different artifacts. The second part of the section more particularly deals with model transformation. It provides an overview of the conceptual model transformation architecture and details the way this conceptual architecture is matched to the ATL language.