Engineering complex distributed system is a real challenge documented in recent literature. Novel paradigms such as Autonomic Computing (AC) approaches appear to be the fittest engineering model in order to face performance instabilities of systems inserted in open and non-deterministic environments. To this purpose, the availability of appropriate development environments will facilitate the design of such systems. Standard agent development platforms represent a good starting point, but they generally lack of rigorous ways to define central AC-related concepts such as the prominent role of feedback loops and knowledge integration in decision making processes: we therefore believe that Agent Oriented Software Engineering (AOSE) can be substantially enriched by taking into account such concepts.
In this paper, a novel extension of the well-known JADE agent development environment is discussed. This extension enhances JADE in order to address the engineering process with Autonomic Computing support. It is called Autonomic Computing Enabled JADE or shortly ACE-JADE. The behavioral model of ACE-JADE will be thoroughly described in the context of a case study (NASA ANTS project).