UML 2.0 spec to come this fall

A new version of the UML (Unified Modeling Language) specification will be submitted to the OMG (Object Management Group) this fall and will include enhancements that make model-driven development easier — but most developers won’t even see the changes.

The forthcoming specification for UML 2.0 will build on the industry’s experience with UML 1.x, and the aim is to simplify model-driven development, according to Grady Booch, chief scientist of Rational Software Corp., in Lexington, Mass., which is the author of UML.

“A lot of what is happening in [Version] 2.0 will actually be utterly invisible to most mortal developers. But a lot is happening under the surface to make it easier for tools vendors to move in the direction of model-driven development,” Booch said.

The idea, Booch continued, is to bring the UML as a higher-level language that transcends most textual languages and enables both code generation and reverse engineering, perhaps even to the point of direct executability in some UML models.

Frank Gillett, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Mass., said that while UML is useful, it is not for every developer.

“UML seems to have done better than all of the individual modeling languages that came before it,” Gillett said. “But it’s not something I see at this point burgeoning beyond the groups of architects that think strategically about the big picture.”

UML, however, is gaining traction among tools vendors. In addition to Rational, the specification is supported by companies including Microsoft Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., IBM Corp., Oracle Corp., Borland Software Corp., and Compuware Corp., which are all members of the consortium driving it. “Every tier 1 major IDE has some form of modeling built into it,” said John Meyer, an analyst with Giga Information Group Inc., in Cambridge, Mass.

Meyer continued, saying that for UML to become mainstream, however, the specification needs an injection of RAD (rapid application development) capabilities.

“The thing that is missing is the RAD. You need [to add] some ease of use to what is a lengthy process when you’re using UML,” Meyer said.

Meyer said that the advantage of using UML is that companies are thinking about and visualizing the code before embarking on large projects.

Rational’s Booch said that once the specification is submitted, it will be open to discussion by consortium members, and those talks likely will take place late this year or early next year.

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