Product Reviews

Rational XDE Modeler v2002 Release 2

Modeler is the member of their XDE (Extended Development Experience) family of products that is aimed at architects and designers who need to work as part of a group on large object-oriented products. Running in three different modes (integrated with Visual Studio .NET, integrated with IBM WebSphere Application Developer, or standalone), Modeler generates platform-independent models that can be handed off to developers using the full XDE product on either VS .NET or Java platforms. The target audience for Modeler is people who must communicate both up and down the software management ladder. It can create completely free-form diagrams that demonstrate overall architectural decisions, for use in slide shows to upper management. But at the other end, it can also generate complete UML models that can be handed off to developers for implementation. All of the models can be interlinked, so you can drill down to whatever level of detail you need at a particular moment.

There are too many features here to list, but here are some of the more interesting bullet points:

- A drag-and-drop UML and freeform drawing environment
- Full integration with source code control. You can break a model up into subunits that you can check in and out independently.
- Web publishing and reporting, so models can be shared easily with those who don't have one of the XDE products installed.
- Pattern integration that lets you identify and reuse architectural patterns.
- Integration with other parts of the Rational line including Rational RequisitePro and the Rational Unified Process.

Of course, the full XDE Pro tool ($2995) includes developer capabilities that are missing from Modeler. These include data modeling with forward and reverse engineering, and round-trip Visual C# generation. If you need that level of implementation ability, you'll need to buy the full product instead of modeler. But the people who need those facilities are generally developers, not architects.

I had a chance to test-drive Modeler in the Visual Studio .NET shell, and Rational has done a fine job of integration. Models are added to a solution in a Miscellaneous Files folder, and can be mixed with other project types. A new "Model Explorer" added between Solution Explorer and Class View lets you drill into models in any depth necessary. The drawing tools work well, and the selection of shapes and diagrams is extensive. The Web published version appears to have complete fidelity to the original, and comes with a treeview that maintains the model organizatino. Overall, this is a tool that just lets you work without getting in your way. If you're an architect or designer versed in UML with developers that target VS.NET or WebSphere as their development environment, you're likely to find this one useful indeed.

[This review originally appeared in

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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