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How Standard is Standard UML?

What does it mean to have a standard UML, and why the standard doesn't standardize as many things as people think it does..

March 1999


Few things in the UML cause more consternation than aggregation and composition, in particular how they vary from regular association.

17 May 2003



Usually you don't show the collection on the class diagram as a class. All you do is show an association between the album class and the track class. By marking the association with a * multiplicity you imply that a collection is in play.

12 May 2003



Consider a simple example, you have a class that represents a rectangle and you want to know its height, width, and area. How do you show that the area is derivable from the height and width?

25 December 2003



The simple answer to this is that you don't. I don't remember a case where I've seen a need to do this. Where I've seen it done, it hasn't communicated much that's useful.

6 October 2003



Model Driven Software Development (MDSD) is a style of software development that considers itself as an alternative to the traditional style of programming. The approach centers itself on building models of a software system. These models are typically made manifest through diagrammatic design notations - the UML is one option. The idea is that you use these diagrams, to specify your system to a modeling tool and then you generate code in a conventional programming language.

14 July 2008



One of the big claims about Model Driven Architecture (MDA) is that it allows you to develop a system in a Platform Independent Model (PIM) that can then be transformed into Platform Specific Models (PSM) for technologies such as .NET or Java. An alert reader should say to this: "hang on a moment, isn't the whole point of Java to be platform independent? So why would I want some platform independent technology that generates another platform independent technology?"

12 September 2003



In UML Distilled, I bemoaned the fact that there isn't a good book on teaching UML's activity diagrams. There still isn't, but I recently came across Conrad Bock's articles on UML 2.0 . Amongst these there is a series of articles on activity diagrams that go into more depth than I was able to cover in Distilled. (For those who don't know, Conrad Bock is one of the leaders of the activity diagram work in UML 2.)

8 March 2005



Yesterday I was poking around a code base, looking at the domain model part of the code. When exploring a code base, I like to take notes to help me remember what I'm learning. For some code bases, in particular domain models, I find it handy to sketch UML class diagrams.

28 April 2011



In this UmlMode developers use the UML to help communicate some aspects of a system. As with blueprints you can use sketches a forward engineering or reverse engineering direction. Forward-engineering draws a UML diagram before you write code, while reverse-engineering builds UML from existing code in order to help understand it.



I draw a lot of UML diagrams, but I don't use CASE tools. The reason is that I'm interested in UmlAsSketch, not in all the repository stuff. So far my regular choice has been Visio. Although Visio comes with UML templates I don't use the built in ones - I prefer those of Pavel Hruby.

16 June 2004



Use cases are a technique for organizing and eliciting requirements. They were originally popularized by Ivar Jacobson in the late 80's and early 90's.


Defining the UML Kernel

Scott Ambler, Peter Coad, Martin Fowler, Cris Kobryn, moderated by Roger Smith

At UML World in 2000 we had a panel discussion on whether we should have a kernel for the UML. SD Magazine turned it into a surprisingly coherent article (there's nothing like a good editor!) Take a look to see how frighteningly small I would make the kernel.

1 October 2000


One of the new notations that appeared in UML 2 was the socket notation to show interfaces required by a class. The origins of this was the 'lollipop' notation that was popularized by Microsoft to show a class implementing multiple interfaces. So I can show that the Array class implements multiple interfaces like this.

3 February 2005



In general, you use an association to represent something like a field in a class. The link is always there, in that you can always ask an order for its customer. It need not actually be a field, if you are modeling from a more interface perspective, it can just indicate the presence of a method that will return the order's customer.

17 September 2003



UML use case diagrams define a bunch of relationships between use cases. The two best known are include and extend. There seem to be more questions on these two relationships than on any other part of use cases, perhaps even anything in the UML.

5 June 2003



Some people think that Model Driven Architecture (MDA) will be biggest shift in software development since the move from assembler to the first high level languages. Others think that it's nothing more than Night of the Living Case Tools. I'm in the latter camp but feel the need for more than a slick saying.

2 February 2004



When data modeling methods talk about relationships, they use the term cardinality to indicate how many entities may be linked together. So you might have a relationship between order and customer and say that the cardinality of the relationship is one-to-many. Or you might hear that the cardinality of customers for an order is 0-to-many.

12 August 2003



Last week the OMG adopted the superstructure document for UML 2. In practice this means that UML 2 is agreed on. There are numerous changes to the UML in UML 2 - it represents the biggest overhaul to the UML since the UML was originally agreed on. For general users the most obvious changes are probably:

8 June 2003



For a long time engineering influenced software processes have looked for a way to express software designs in such a way that the designs can be handed off to a separate group to write the code, much as blueprints are used in building bridges. This would allow rare and expensive software designers to concentrate on the blueprints while many cheaper coders concentrate on construction.



If you can detail the UML enough, and provide semantics for everything you need in software, you can make the UML be your programming language. Tools can take the UML diagrams you draw and compile them into executable code.

The promise of this is that UML is a higher level language and thus more productive than current programming languages.



While I was looking at UML 2, it occurred to me that people differ about what should be in the UML because there are differing fundamental views about what the UML should be. As I thought about this, I came up with three primary classifications for thinking about the UML: UmlAsSketch, UmlAsBlueprint, and UmlAsProgrammingLanguage. (Interestingly Steve Mellor independently came up with the same classifications.)

28 May 2003



The UML means different things to different people, which is why I find the notion of people using a different UmlMode useful. Most people I talk to are interested in UmlAsSketch and this group isn't very impressed with UML 2.

3 November 2003



This is a common question, and not one that has a generally agreed on answer. Many people in the XP community consider stories to be a simplified form of use cases, but although I used to hold this view I see things differently now.

18 August 2003