Sunday, January 28, 2007

StarUML is Looking Good

I've done quite a bit of UML modeling. Up to recently, the tools for this were inadequate or overly expensive. However, in my constant search for improved tools, I've recently run across StarUML.

This one looks to be a keeper. Not only does the tool offer broad support for UML 2.0, including the 11 most commonly used document types; not only can it import from Rational Rose or XMI and export to XMI. It is also capable of reverse engineering UML models from existing code written in Java, C++, or C#. And it can generate code for these languages. The project features are interesting, in that you can select from several different "approaches", including the Rational approach. These are extensible as well, as is illustrated by the AML (Agent Modeling Language) profile that's available for download.

In addition, StarUML can generate templates for Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. I confess I'm not thrilled that only the Microsoft Office templates are supported for these design documents, but I certainly recognize the need for it. The good news is that since StarUML is extensible, it should be possible to add modules to perform the same tasks for OpenOffice.org or StarOffice as the demand for these products increases.

I haven't had a lot of time to play with this yet, so this is certainly a qualified endorsement at this point. However, it generates beautiful diagrams and offers extensive functionality. It all looks very interesting, but I'll have to set aside some "quality time" for a complete road test. As I have more time to evaluate it I'll tell you more.



While I'm discussing free software, I'd like to remind you about an excellent replacement for Microsoft Project. Open Workbench from Niku simply rocks! This is not just another Gantt chart diagramming tool. This is a fully featured product that surpasses MS Project in many ways. If you're a project manager looking to control your budget, you owe it to yourself to give this a try.

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