What to Look For in a Tool? - UML

Given the above comments, here's a summary of some advice when choosing a UML tool, based on what clients - often in hindsight after spending too much money - have shared with me.

  1. First, try a free UML tool. There are several options. Only buy a tool after the free options have been exhausted.
  2. Once you've chosen a tentative tool, especially in the context of a company - standard tool or a large purchasing decision, try it on a real project with as many developers as possible, before making a decision. Decide based on the guidance of your developers who have really used it for a long period, not based on the opinion of architects or others who have only made a cursory investigation.
  3. Choose a UML tool that integrates into your favorite text - strong IDE.
  4. Choose a UML tool that supports reverse engineering sequence diagrams from code. Or, if an otherwise satisfactory free tool doesn't support this, use the free tool for most developers, and buy just a few copies of a commercial tool that does, for when you want to understand call - flow patterns.
  5. Choose a tool that supports printouts to a plotter, on large plotter paper, in large font and diagram sizes, so that large - scale visualization is possible.

If Sketching UML, How to Update the Diagrams After Coding?

If you are using a UML tool integrated with an IDE, working alone, and not doing wall sketching, then synchronizing the diagrams is a simple reverse - engineering operation in the IDE. But what if you are working with a small team and want to spend a modeling day each iteration at the whiteboards, applying UML as sketch. Consider this scenario:

  1. At the start of a three - week timeboxed iteration, there was a modeling dayinvolving UML wall sketches.
  2. This is followed by about three weeks of code and test.
  3. Finally, it's time to start the next iteration's modeling day.

At this point, if you wanted to do some wall sketching again, based on the existing state of the code base, how to proceed? Here's a suggestion: Just before the modeling day, use a UML tool to reverse engineer the code into UML diagrams - package, class, and interaction diagrams. Then, for the most interesting ones, print them large on long plotter paper, on a plotter. Hang them relatively high in the modeling room on the walls, so that during the modeling day developers can refer to them, sketch on top of them, and sketch below them on whiteboards or static cling sheets.


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