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UML Drawing Tool?

 
Greenhorn
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Hello all,

I'm having a very frustrating time :^(

But aren't we all? Hehe.

Here's my deal... I've been sketching UML diagrams, by using the pencil and paper method, but would now like to produce some nicer, more professional looking drawings. So, about two-weeks ago, I downloaded Poseidon and have been trying to work with it.

I find Sequence diagrams very frustrating using Poseidon. I can't even do simple things with it, like drag a 'synchronized' arrow up or down. Am I the only one having this type of problem?

At this point, I don't want to spend any more time with it. I simply need a tool to draw nice UML diagrams and save them. I don't need code generation nor reverse engineering. Also, it shouldn't force adherence to UML 'rules.' It's just gotta be flexible, even if my UML looks like who-done-it-and-ran from a technical perspective ;^)

Some copy and paste features would be good.

Can anyone please give me some suggestions? Maybe a library extension for OpenOffice?

I look forward to seeing your suggestions. Thanks in advance!

Kristian
 
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There are plenty of tools out there.

Take a look at:

Visual Paradigm

It is a very nice tool, but I do not like the licensing program very much. They have a Community Edition that is actually a Trial Version. And the prices for some editions are affordable for mere mortals.

Power Designer

This is my favorite, you can download a trial. Sadly it just run under Windows and it is very expensive.

When it comes to coding I'd rather use a diagraming tool that integrates with the IDE. In that sense I like to use the diagraming tools that come with JDeveloper, which by chance, it's completely free.

There is also the traditional Rational Rose.

I think the people from Computer Associates have some interesing options.
[ May 07, 2006: Message edited by: Edwin Dalorzo ]
 
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Where is the need for a "more professional look" coming from?
 
Kristian Kringleheimer
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Edwin Dalorzo--Thanks! I've downloaded JDeveloper. I didn't even know it has a diagramming component. Hope it suits our needs. Too soon to say for sure. I'll report back later...

Ilja Preuss--We are having too much difficulty reading each other's scribblings. Plus we need to present our drawings to management (as if they know how to interpret them) so we can convince them to increase our funding $$. For this, our drawings can't look like 2nd grade art class ;^)

Generally though, I haven't cared for CASE tools until now, because they'd been expensive and consumed too much time. If our projects had been bigger, then we'd have been able to benefit more from them.

If JDev doesn't work, then I'm thinking about creating some shapes in either OOo or Excel. I really just need basic presentation functionality--with no fancy features.
 
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MagicDraw (www.magicdraw.com) and also MS Visio )) Reverse engineering is nice. You can produce tons of diagrams from existing code for people who will not read them anyway *giggles*.
 
Ilja Preuss
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Originally posted by Kristian Kringleheimer:
We are having too much difficulty reading each other's scribblings.



I see

If that's a problem I gather that you are not working very closely together?

Plus we need to present our drawings to management (as if they know how to interpret them) so we can convince them to increase our funding $$. For this, our drawings can't look like 2nd grade art class ;^)



It might depend on how you present them - "we could have used hours and an expensive tool to draw some fancy diagrams. Instead we decided to make better use of your money and spend the time we saved by drawing those diagrams manually producing valuable software. We'd like to produce even more software for you, but for that, we'd need more $$$..."

Anyway, take a look at UMLet. Seems to work well if the diagrams don't become too complex. It's not perfect - but then I've tried a dozen or more tools in my life as a developer, and all were far from perfect...
 
Kristian Kringleheimer
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Vladas Razas�Thank! I like Visio because it actually works. But I've never tried UML plug-ins with it. That said, I'm not crazy about using M$ products with all those proprietary formats. In fact, I don't even have M$-Office installed on my workstation. I use OOo and also hope for a migration to Linux soon. I find M$'s whole product registration scheme kind of creepy. Plus, they always over-engineer everything, so that only idiots are happy with it.

It started with those pull-down menus that don't open fully until you hold your pointer over the 'expand bar.' It's just gone downhill from there. It's as if there's always someone at M$ who needs to justify his existence by inventing some new crappy feature.

Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:
If that's a problem I gather that you are not working very closely together?


True, we fit the 'introverted' and 'antisocial' profile that is so common in this profession. However, it wouldn't make much difference, even if we were to work more closely. We found that we can't even read our own respective work, after too much time elapses. We need machine generated text and drawings, just to keep ourselves sane lol


Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:
It might depend on how you present them - "we could have used hours and an expensive tool to draw some fancy diagrams. Instead we decided to make better use of your money and spend the time we saved by drawing those diagrams manually producing valuable software. We'd like to produce even more software for you, but for that, we'd need more $$$..."


Yes, we've been using that approach for quite some time. In fact, we fully subscribe to the motto �If you can't Dazzle them with Brilliance, then Baffle them with Bullshit!�

Problem in this case is that if something goes wrong�or if our project appears to malfunction somehow�then our managers will ask each other, �Hmmm, do you think we should have trusted those guys with the sketchy pencil drawings?�

So, as you can see, it's all "Smoke and Mirrors." Politics. If you want to 'get along', you have to 'go along.' Or something like that...

Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:
Anyway, take a look at UMLet. Seems to work well if the diagrams don't become too complex. It's not perfect - but then I've tried a dozen or more tools in my life as a developer, and all were far from perfect...


Thanks, I just looked at it. If I understand correctly, it's a plug-in for Eclipse (and not a standalone app). I'm using NetBeans now, but maybe I'll download Eclipse to see how it works...

Generally, I agree with you about some of the tools out there. I've found that the best way to kill productivity is to use a �productivity tool.� If we were to ever incorporate some of those fancy things that are available, then we'd need to hire some genius to explain how they work.

Honestly, dealing with 'software development tools' makes me want to find a different career. They really take the fun out of it.

�brigens, Dein Englisch ist ausgezeichnet, mein Freund ;^)

Kristian




_
[ May 10, 2006: Message edited by: Kristian Kringleheimer ]
 
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Thanks, I just looked at it. If I understand correctly, it's a plug-in for Eclipse (and not a standalone app). I'm using NetBeans now, but maybe I'll download Eclipse to see how it works...



Actually, it runs as either an Eclipse plugin, or as a standalone app (just run the jar file for the standalone behaviour)
 
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ah, UML tools. The new IDE wars of the 21st century

UML can be a handy tool, but you should not use it for its own sake.
And yes, I know that in many companies that's exactly what happens. They introduce "UML" and make it mandatory without knowing what it's for, they just heard a buzzword. Place I work now is like that, CEO heard that UML improves the quality of the software you produce so in a few months (when the new QA department is up and running, another buzzword with no substance at least in our implementation) it will become mandatory.
Only 2 people have ever worked with it, and only one of them is a programmer. Worse, it will be introduced into a non-OO environment where 90% of the software is GUIs with tons of embedded business logic (yes, yes, don't even start about it).

I've warned against it (being the one programmer who's used it in the past), but my concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

As to good tools, several have been mentioned. Together is excellent but rather expensive.
I'm personally using Enterprise Architect now (http://www.sparxsystems.com.au).
Rational Rose I'd avoid like the plague (having used it in the past) unless your company uses RUP fully and strictly and is mated to IBM in every way.
 
Kristian Kringleheimer
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Originally posted by Frank Carver:
Actually, it runs as either an Eclipse plugin, or as a standalone app (just run the jar file for the standalone behaviour)

Thanks for mentioning it. I will try it.

I've been using JDeveloper for the past few days. For the most part, I like it. But I'm uncertain about how to model Conditional Logic. It doesn't seem to have any frame component for wrapping alternate paths. Anyone know how to do this?
 
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Originally posted by Kristian Kringleheimer:
It started with those pull-down menus that don't open fully until you hold your pointer over the 'expand bar.'


Point taken. Gotta love Microsoft � always pandering to the lowest common denominator and the mindless masses. Advanced users don't mind playing hide-and-seek with the useful features.

Tools->Customize->Options
Check "Always show full menus".
 
Ilja Preuss
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Originally posted by Kristian Kringleheimer:
True, we fit the 'introverted' and 'antisocial' profile that is so common in this profession.



Don't give up. The most introverted developer of our team four years ago (he would sit there starring at a blank wall for hours, and then start coding the solution and often he wouldn't even notice for minutes that you are talking to him) is now the one who fills the pair programming matrix on the white board each monday, just to make sure that he doesn't have to work alone so much!


However, it wouldn't make much difference, even if we were to work more closely. We found that we can't even read our own respective work, after too much time elapses.



How much time would that be? I typically find that a diagram becomes out of date after a few weeks, anyway...


�brigens, Dein Englisch ist ausgezeichnet, mein Freund ;^)



Danke!
[ May 12, 2006: Message edited by: Ilja Preuss ]
 
Kristian Kringleheimer
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Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:
How much time would that be? I typically find that a diagram becomes out of date after a few weeks, anyway...


Currently, I see our diagramming less as part of a living process, and more as historical documentation. Our core diagrams haven't changed much in about 2-years, but I need to convert them to a neater, more readable format.

For now, we code first and diagram later. That'll change as I gain more confidence at planning our work.

Don't give up. The most introverted developer of our team four years ago (he would sit there starring at a blank wall for hours, and then start coding the solution and often he wouldn't even notice for minutes that you are talking to him) is now the one who fills the pair programming matrix on the white board each monday, just to make sure that he doesn't have to work alone so much!


I actually DO work together with our retiree developer. He comes in once per week and we sit and discuss algorithms and other complicated things that are part of our legacy software, which he developed aeons ago.

He's the smartest one on our team, but he doesn't know anything about Java nor UML diagramming�and he'd sooner use the term 'Agile' to describe one of our secretaries, than for something associated with software development. But he does find Java and all its related methodologies interesting, so he enjoys sitting there and watching me code and diagram his ideas.

Our second-smartest team member sits in his office, either chain smoking or chewing tobacco (yuck!). A real stinker. Sure, we're in a non-smoking building, but his office roommate is also a smoker, so they collaborate to ensure that the hallway outside of their door smells like a cheap hotel. I communicate with him via E-mail whenever possible.

Number three ICQs his Russian girlfriend, who lives in Moscow, all day long. He's only effective when listening to 'alternative' music at high volume. However, I consider it an alternative TO music, so it's best to leave him off the �pair programming matrix� altogether. Fortunately, he's an exceptionally talented amateur musician--such as our 'big boss' aspires to be. In short, this dynamic keeps our funding solid.

Then there's me. I'm the dumbest one in the group and rely heavily on those mentioned above. Nevertheless, I'm in-charge of dreaming-up our concepts and keeping things on-track. I spend most of the day switching between coding, diagramming and surfing the net for porn and things related to my religion: recumbent bicycling. You DON'T want me in your �matrix� because I'll lull you to sleep with stories of my weekend bike tours. Here I am.

So, as you can see, we're an eclectic bunch, and each of us requires a significant amount of personal Lebensraum, if you know what I mean ;^)



Hey, by the way, I'm having some luck with JDeveloper. Oracle seems to have the right idea, although their graphical elements are a bit limited.

I tried UMLet, but it acted kind of quirky. For example, I drew a frame over one of my sequence diagrams, but wasn't able to remove it without destroying my previous work. I get the impression that many of these community projects aren't ready for prime time yet; at least not their sequence diagramming features. I have hope for some of these projects though.

Kristian



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[ May 12, 2006: Message edited by: Kristian Kringleheimer ]
 
Kristian Kringleheimer
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Just thought I'd report back on JDeveloper...

I really like the product, so far. It's easy to use--creating elements and moving them without hassles works fine--and it makes a clean presentation. The only snag was not being able to Copy & Paste elements (lifelines, arrows, etc.) to other Sequence diagrams. That particular lack of basic functionality caused me some extra work. It's still easier than pencil-sketching though, and I think Oracle is planning to implement Cut & Paste in a future release.

Thanks for suggesting it!

Kristian
 
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I noticed that someone, somewhere in this thread mentioned NetBeans, if you are a NetBeans user then you may want to check out either the Enterprise Pack for NetBeans 5.5 Beta or Sun Java Enterprise Studio. Both contain some nice UML tools and both are free.
 
Kristian Kringleheimer
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Originally posted by Chris Johnston:
I noticed that someone, somewhere in this thread mentioned NetBeans, if you are a NetBeans user then you may want to check out either the Enterprise Pack for NetBeans 5.5 Beta or Sun Java Enterprise Studio. Both contain some nice UML tools and both are free.

Thanks, I just tried the Enterprise Pack for NB. In my opinion, JDeveloper has a nicer feel--at least for Sequence diagraming. I spent about an hour creating lifelines and dragging arrows around in NB. It displayed some awkward behavior, but maybe it'll improve over time. For now, it seems like JDeveloper has the most refined user interface. To me, it's the most like Visio--I've had good experiences with Visio; nonetheless, as I indicated earlier in this thread, I'd like to move away from M$ products.
 
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