UModel is a UML tool for software modeling and application development. By its general nature, UML is a complex set of models that can be used to describe and design software. For that reason, UML is something that is loved or hated depending on your point of view on the topic of application design modeling. UModel was developed with the interest of making the UML process easier.
The version of Umodel 2008 that I am reviewing is the Enterprise version. There is also a Professional version available. If you would like to view the differences, you can check out the feature comparison list over on the Altova site.
What is UModel? It is a graphical modeling designer that will allow you to visually design application models in UML and generate Java, C#, or Visual Basic .Net code, and project documentation. It will also allow you to reverse-engineer existing programs into UML 2 diagrams, fine tune them, and then regenerate the updated code.
While the UML is a complete modeling language, but it does not discuss the methodology for the development, code generation, and round-trip engineering process. Therefore UModel has been designed to allow you the maximum flexibility during these processes.
So what's new with UModel 2008?
• Support for OMG Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) – now gives you the ability to draw business processes in a workflow. BPMN diagrams are understandable by all business stakeholders such as analysts, developers, managers. This is one of the standards maintained by OMG, the administrators of UML.
• Diagram Layers – these are new in this version. This is a feature that works like the layers functionality that is present in many graphics applications and is supported by a new layers helper window. This will let you create and control layers in any diagram type. Each element can be assigned to a different layer, and layers can be made invisible, as well as have the ability to be locked to prevent changes.
• Enhanced auto-completion capabilities – will help in the creation of operations and properties for classes. An auto-completion window automatically pops up after the user types an operation or property name within a class. Selections can be filtered to include primitive types, data types, enumerations, as well as class, interface, or datatype templates.
• Merging multiple projects – now lets you merge changes made by different developers to individual copies of an UModel project file back to a single project.
• Support for Java 6.0, C# 3.0 and Visual Basic 9.0 – is now available for code generation and reverse engineering for the latest release of these languages.
• Support for MS Visual Studio .NET 2008 – now available for the latest release of Microsoft's Visual Studio.
• Importing multiple XML Schemas from a directory – will let you create UML style XML Schemas for multiple Schema's stored in a directory as opposed to importing each one separately.
• New diagramming refinements – include user-defined Stereotype styles, automatic generation of Component Realizations, support for object nodes on activity diagrams, and the use of collection associations to resolve sets, arrays, and other types containing more than one member.
UModel provides simplicity at an affordable price. By taking a step-by-step approach, you can create UML documents much easier than ever before. While UML is still a complex topic, Altova, through UModel, has made it more accessible and easier to use.
Obviously the support for the latest version of common languages and the seamless integration with Visual Studio .Net is a great enhancement, but the support for Business Processing Modeling Notation and Diagram layers makes this and even better update.
UModel 2008 is available from Altova. It is $229.00 USD for the Enterprise edition, and $149 for the Professional edition. It is also part of the combination MissionKits that are also available. Still unsure? You can download a 30-day trial version as well.
Like any UML modeling tool, there is a learning curve to using UModel, but once you get the hang of it, it is pretty intuitive. There is a lot of online help and a PDF User and Reference manual that is over 400 pages in length. If you are still not sure if this product is for you, there is also a video that steps you through what all UModel can do. If you want to get into UML modeling, then UModel 2008 is a perfect solution.