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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Reader Comments:

Tue, Dec 30, 2003 Jer Twin Cities

I've worked with the 2003 version - my opinion: If you want a big piece of bloatware that will slow your IDE to a crawl, this is your tool. I'll wager most of the positive reviews of this product are by folks who never have used the tool in a real project. Cumbersome to use, horrible help & support. I'm not a big UMLer, but there's got to be a better UML modeling tool than this!

Tue, Nov 18, 2003 Al Anonymous

I have been using for XDE for some time. I have been unimpressed with this product. First, it does not provide support for modeling UML collaboration diagrams. 2nd the support for UML elements is horrible, to got good looking model is nearly impossible as there is a lack of resize capabilities. I find that models seem to resize all the time when resize mode is off. The documentation, or lack there of is fairly poor on property pages. The one star is attributed to the lack of features and the high price tag. For 3k, I’m sure there are products better than this; you are paying for the rational (or IBM) name. Not to mention the typical poor support for IBM products, of course the support will be good if you want the shell out the $$$ to them.

Thu, Jun 26, 2003 Mark Lundquist Denver

I have been trying to get the code patterns in Rational XDE to work. But I failed numerous times. There is no documentation and no support. The modelling part is (like on Rose) very poor. No real traceability, no way you can make a proper Sequence Diagram. Even a drawing tool like Visio gives better modeling support.
So how can this review say it is usefull.
Sometimes these things really make me angry. I would take a look at other tools that have proper modeling and proper .NET support (like sparx systems, borland, select business solutions or visual object modelers).
And sorry, coco: there is nothing rocking in v2003. still poor modeling.

Mon, Jun 9, 2003 coco Anonymous

check out XDE DataModeler in the v2003. it rocks!!!

Thu, Jan 30, 2003 Syteslu Anonymous

Poor review. XDE's data modeller sucks. How even someone can think of selling it. And that too at this price tag?

Tue, Jan 14, 2003 Zak London, UK

This review may help vindicate some conclusions of my evaluation, but does not really add any information of its own. A bit more depth and detail is required, as well as comments about XDE's short falls.

Thu, Dec 5, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

not much information or very in-depth, seems to finish abruptly

Thu, Sep 19, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous


Mon, Sep 16, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous


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