Product Reviews

Visual UML

Drag-and-drop UML diagramming.

There are quite a few UML environments out there these days. Here's another one, which comes in quite a few flavors. This version is in the middle of their product lineup; if you spend a bit more you can get VBA as a scripting language for the application, if you spend less you can get the Standard Edition with some features trimmed.

Visual UML offers a drag and drop drawing environment that can handle any of the standard UML 1.3 or 1.4 diagrams, including Class, Object, Use Case, Deployment, Sequence, and many others. The diagrams can be built up into nested hierarchies and organized in a treeview that's part of the IDE. Everything has a property sheet with options galore; indeed, Visual UML will probably be overwhelming to the UML beginner.

Visual UML has good support for interacting with other applications as well. You can import and export in a variety of standard formats including XMI. You can also generate code in a bunch of different languages: C++, VB.NET, VB 6, Java, C#, and more. There's reverse engineering from applications and databases, as well as some integration with Visual Studio .NET (an add-in controls interactions between VS .NET and Visual UML, but the editor runs in a separate window rather than in the VS .NET shell).

Visual UML's documentation is quite extensive, and includes such nice touches as documentation of the way that the code generation and reverse engineering facilities map code to UML and vice versa. There's not a lot of tutorial material, though you will find a bit on their Web site. I wouldn't choose this as a first UML application for most people, but when you're ready to get serious about incorporating UML in your process, it should definitely be one of the products evaluated. You can download a full-featured trial version from their Web site.

About the Author

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

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