Analysts have warned customers against using the Unified Modelling Language (UML) to build large, mission critical applications because it is not yet mature or comprehensive enough.
Although UML is a major step forward from the three object oriented methodologies that it replaces - OMT, Booch, and OOSE - these methods are quite a lot weaker than the structured ones that came before them.
Work is still needed to make UML robust enough for enterprise use, according to the findings of a report from consultancy Ovum, entitled: 'Ovum Evaluates: Case Products'.
Mike Budd, an Ovum analyst, said: ?I don?t think UML is suitable yet for mission critical systems and I certainly wouldn?t bet my business on it. But, it?s fine for small scale, smaller business stuff where you?re using Booch or OMT already - you?ll gain the advantages of UML because they?re similar and if things go wrong you won?t get into too much trouble. If you want something for safety critical use though, I?d use existing structural methods.?
He added that there were still various holes in technology, which he felt was still immature and disappointing in several key areas.
UML does not allow you to specify an entire application in terms of required performance, and offers only a limited ability to specify capacity - for instance, the number of invoices the system will handle, he said.
It does not provide the syntax for expressions, which, in conjunction with diagrams, tell an application what to do rather than how to do it.
The methodology is also more complex than it needs to be. For example, it offers two ways to design communication between objects in the form of signal or operation invocation. But, the two different methods often blur into each other and yield little benefit in being referred to separately.
The standard symbols used in UML are not intuitive to try and provide some continuity with the past, but this means it is hard for newcomers to understand what they mean in a UML diagram.
Worse, the methodology?s syntax and symantics is not clearly or formally enough defined, which means that depending on different vendors? implementation of the methodology, two different Case tools can end up generating different applications.
But, UML does also not give any clear guidelines on how to generate a full application from the methodology, which means that each tool can go its own way because suppliers have to work out how to do it themselves.
There is also incomplete real time and safety-critical support, although a realtime version of UML is currently under development.
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