UML, good or bad?

Via Adriano Comai I stumbled upon Ivar Jacobson’s article  “Taking the temperature of UML” , an interesting view of one of UML founders on the UML.  One of the important quotes is:

Still, UML has become complex and clumsy. For 80% of all software only 20% of UML is needed. However, it is not easy to find the subset of UML which we would call the “Essential” UML. We must make UML smarter to use.

There is a strong point in UML being too big. I have been following UML since its inception, having worked 10 years on one of the first UML tools, Software Through Pictures. Over the time, I have more and more been favouring (textual) DSLs. One of the reasons are the intrinsic problems of graphical  modelling, so one of the quotes I cannot really agree to:

There are a number of good and easy to use tools.

The situation has gotten much better, but graphical modeling tools are very complex to get right and I’d support the statement on one of the speakers on the german Architektour podcast that there are few tools that I really like, only tools that I dislike less. However, in project settings, there might be some influencing factors that make  UML and UML tooling is the best solution. If you understand german, most of the arguments pro and con UML that I’d use are mentioned on the Architektour podcast.

I like Pedro J. Molina’s article in his post “Using the 20% of UML”.

So I don’t think an “Essential UML” would be the right way to go. Time is better invested to find the right DSL for your domain.

One thought on “UML, good or bad?

  1. I’ve been giving UML some thoughts recently as well. I agree with your comments and would also add that even the “20% essential UML”. Drawing diagrams is a very good/creative way to define and solve problems however having a formalized language around that detracts from that purpose. How often do you look at a UML diagram and all you can see is a sea of square boxes with various components. Contrast that with a diagram that has color, different shapes and images. If you wanted to represent a facade why not draw a picture of a mask (implies that there is more behind it that we don’t see), etc. I think UML has done the design community a huge disservice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *