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UPDATE: My word, what a lot of typos! I blame the bright sunlight and the glare it created on my Tablet PC. And I wasn't gonna move, because bright sunlight in Michigan is a rare treat right now. Fixed!

In our last Episode, The UML Guy and Geek Girl explored how State Diagrams help you to model the rich range of flow in a user interface. Today, The UML Guy has an announcement. (Click picture for a larger image.)

Ulterior Motive Lounge Intermisuion 3

To this point, the Lounge has been somewhat random and piecemeal. (In other shocking news, rain has been somewhat wet!) I approached UML topics as I found them important or interesting, or when a particular film inspired them. Sometimes I approached them because of specific questions from readers.

One thing common to many good UML books is that they want to show you that UML is a language, not a process. I approve of that, in theory. But as an instructor, when I tried to structure my UML classes that way, students struggled with this approach. Without a process, they didn't know why they would draw a particular diagram, or when. Eventually, I decided they needed to learn UML in the context of a "just enough" process. From that decision and a lot of thought, I ended up with my minimalist Five Step UML process: Define, Refine, Assign, Design, Repeat.

  1. Define your customer's goals and requirements in Use Case Diagrams. Add Class Diagrams as a visual glossary.
  2. Refine those requirements into processes and rules using Activity Diagrams for the Use Cases. Use State Diagrams, Sequence Diagrams, or Communication Diagrams if they help; but primarily rely on Activity Diagrams.
  3. Assign the steps in those rules to parts of the system by adding Swimlanes to the Activity Diagrams.
  4. Design the relations of those parts through Class Diagrams. You may also need Object Diagrams, Component Diagrams, or Deployment Diagrams. We haven't seen those in the Lounge yet; but they're enough like Class Diagrams that you should be able to read them if you can read Class Diagrams.
  5. Repeat the process across Use Cases. Then repeat at different scales: with Classes, or across Components or Processors. Look at more detailed Use Cases. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

This has proven much more successful as a teaching tool, and also as a light-weight process. Even an Agile process. It's just enough UML to help you ask and answer questions. You'll learn more as you apply it and grow with it.

But even just showing students a UML-based process in the abstract doesn't do much. They need to see UML in action. What they need is a Case Study.

And very early on, I knew that some day, the Lounge would need Case Studies. The Back to the 80s series (here and here and here and here) is something of a mini-Case Study; but for Volume II, I wanted something meaty: a single film that would serve as a complete project, with a wide range of development disciplines and tasks. After discussion with Editor Bill and feedback from Curtis Gray, we think we've found the ideal film. It's not quite an 80s film; but let's face it, it's not like I've ever enforced that rule in the past. And the potential in this film is just too good to pass up!

All right, all right, I'll be honest... I get to draw freakin' dinosaurs and UML! There was no way I could pass this up once I thought about it.

So join The UML Guy, Geek Girl, The Reader, and a bunch of new cast members and old friends as they head off to the tropics. But fair warning: assuming you know how this story will play out could be hazardous to your health. I don't control this strip any more. The characters have minds of their own; and so do the dinosars...

Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 1:55 PM Ulterior Motive Lounge , UML , Development Processes | Back to top

Comments on this post: Ulterior Motive Lounge Intermission 3: Plan for the Future, Learn from the Past

# re: Ulterior Motive Lounge Intermission 3: Plan for the Future, Learn from the Past
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Leapin' Lizards, Batman! The UML Guy is going to the Land of the Lost. ...

Oh, not that one, eh? Thank goodness.

This should be interesting.



Left by Mitchell Allen on Nov 19, 2008 8:20 PM

# re: Ulterior Motive Lounge Intermission 3: Plan for the Future, Learn from the Past
Requesting Gravatar...
Heh. No, Mitch, not that one! Though I swear, if I could find a way, I'd use it. I was one of those kids in our generation who was glued to the tube whenever Marshall, Will, and Holly went over those falls.
Left by Martin L. Shoemaker on Nov 19, 2008 8:54 PM

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