Pithy Ambler:Whats New in UML 2

Scott Amblers Agile Modeling and Agile Data websites are quirky – at times Scott is breathtakingly on the mark and other times hes like Toronto Raptors Vince Carter – not bringing the full game. Its as if the huge quantity of material and work Scott takes on also takes a toll – some of the stuff is clearly first draft material.

Well rereading Scotts Agile Edge, Whats New in UML 2, from the February 2004 issue of Software Development Magazine finds Scott in very fine form. He is assessing UML 2 and finds that it is moving in the right direction in some cases – moving towards a broader, intersystems or enterprise architecture viewpoint – especially with Activity and Component diagrams. But the architecture diagrams of the SOA-Service OrientedArchitecture, OASIS with BPEL-Business Process Execution Language, and ESB-Enterprise System Bus people are way ahead of OMG-Object Management Group, the caretakers of the UML.

But of even greater import is the direction that the UML has taken. UML had 9 diagrams versus the new UML 2 having 12 diagrams (depending on who is counting) but with several variations. UML, already complex, is becoming even more so. And to what end ? Scott tells us :
At last … the OMGs long awaited release of UML 2.0! Why has this version lurked on the horizon for so long ? Three simple words: Model Driven Architecture(MDA). Most of the work put into UML aimed to increase its precision and consistency so vendors could implement complex modeling tools that presumably will decrease our reliance on programmers. Having seen integrated computer-assisted software engineering (I-CASE) tools crash and burn in the 1980s , and considering the shallow pool of expert modelers, I hold little hope for MDA. Unfortunately, these are the cards the IT industry has dealt itself; so we will have to live with this version of UML for awhile..”
Unfortuately, in that while, even with Microsoft creating Software Factories and generation tools sprouting up everywhere in the Java and EJB world, UML may simply fall out of favor with only a few of the diagrams being actively used by architects and designers. Why ? Again, Scott is right on the mark:
“Why is the release of UML 2.0 a non-event ? Because it doesnt address any of UML 1.xs gaping holes. Every single system that Ive ever built implements business rules and a user interface and uses a database to persist objects – yet these three issues havent been addressed [in UML 2].”

Right now enterprise business rules, object persistence and UI interface design are the 3 hottest topics in application development. Architects are advancing SOA, BPM, ESB and other Enterprise Integration Architectures. Likewise designers are arguing/battling over persistence schemes (look at JDO, SDO, EJB variants just in the Java world ). Ditto for developers and the presentation wars unfolding in the UI space with Client Server (JSF, ASP, JSP, etc) versus Rich InternetApplications (Flash+XML, DHTML, Java+XML, etc) versus Smart Clients (think Avalon, J2ME, and mobile software culture). What diagramming discipline or design insights does UML 2.0 bring to these debates – lets be charitable and say “Whuh??”. But read the full article for yourself at Software Development and do take a look at the agility Scott is fostering at his two sites.


1 thought on “Pithy Ambler:Whats New in UML 2”

  1. Jacks observation that some of the material posted on the site reads like an initial draft hits the mark perfectly because a lot of the material is in fact the
    first draft of material that would later appear in books. The Agile Modeling site ( presents initial material, sometimes summarized,
    from my books Agile Modeling, The Object Primer 3rd Ed, and The Elements of UML Style (the second edition is coming out in March). The Agile Data site
    ( contains material summarized from Agile Database Techniques and The Object Primer 3rd Ed.

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