Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sequence Diagrams from UML

Recently I've been taking another look at UML. Perhaps it was the result of talking to a software ARCHITECT for the first time in a while, or sub-consciously inserted from the news that Visual Studio 2010 will have some important UML features.

Many of the projects I work on involve first familiarizing myself with legacy code. To me this is almost always fascinating, like "This Old House". I have rarely found two programmers who code the same way. If there is similar architecture to something else I've come across, it almost always turns out to be auto-generated from Microsoft.

I have improvised various note-taking schemes over the years, which is great in that it allows me flexibility to deal with the idiosyncracies of the particular project at hand. On the other hand, one does long for some standards to be handed down. This would be all the more important when working on an excavation as a team.

So, I was delighted to become reacquainted with (because I'm sure I saw it somewhere before but didn't appreciate it) Ivar Jacobson's Sequence Diagrams. When dealing with a highly optimized object oriented architecture that lacks any documentation whatsoever, this is exactly the kind of approach you'd want to take in dissecting some codebase. Sure it was intended for design, but for my purposes, it is probably even more useful in reverse engineering.

Yet, as it seems with all UML models, there is an enormous lack of creativity when it comes to the drawing of symbols. I hope to find an implementation of Sequence Diagram models that has something more creative than a stick person.

Just learned that the UML creation tools in Visual Studio 2010 only come with the Ultimate version, not either the Professional nor the Premium. Bummer.

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