Thursday, May 10, 2007

JDeveloper Class Modeler Revisited

About two years ago I published a couple of white papers about UML, unit testing, and source control, and how to do that using JDeveloper 9.x / 10.1.2. These white papers still can be found on the white paper archive on OTN and are:
  • Getting Started with Use Case Modeling
  • Getting Started with Class Modeling
  • Getting Started with Activity Modeling
  • Getting Started with Unit Testing
  • Getting Started with CVS
As since then the world has turned around a couple of times I took the time and started revisiting them and bring them up-to-date with JDeveloper 10.1.3.

The first paper I have revisited is the one for UML class modeling. To be honest, not much has changed. The only thing I find worth mentioning is that for a class attribute you now can specify if and when it can be updated, using a new property called Changeability. Do I hear a big "Wauw!"? No? Hmm.... Well, you know, of all the UML modelers it is the most mature one, as it also is the base of the Java class, ADF business components, and database modelers, which are (implementation specific) specializations of the UML class modeler.

Only thing that really bugs me is that you still cannot specify unique identifiers for a UML class. I must admit, it's not in UML 2.0 as well, but we are a company that happens to sell relational databases (among other things) and for many of us specifying a unique identifier is like riding a bike is for Lance Armstrong! One of the consequences is that it still is a bad idea to transform a UML class model to ADF business components, because (as I explain in the white paper) ADF entity objects require primary keys and the transformer therefore alphabetically picks the first attribute, and that is not necessarily the right one. The result is a lot of (error prone) work fixing the ADF model, making that I advice against transforming a UML class model to ADF business components. And that's too bad as most people I know use ADF.

"But hey, you are talking JDeveloper 10.1.3, and is that not already an archived version?", I hear you say. Well, almost folks. Recently the JDeveloper 11g - Technology Preview has been released, and YES! the new features overview tells me there is a major change regarding the UML class modeler.

From a feature point of view there still is not much to tell, although one of my enhancement requests from two years ago has been implemented, being that attributes can now also visually be order logically (instead of alphabetically) allowing you, for example, to put the most important ones at the top and attributes that logically belong together above each other. Is that a big deal? Believe me, you want to review a big UML class model it is!

But yet I do have the impression the UML modelers of JDeveloper are going to be taken more seriously than before, as the new features page also state that the UML class modeler has been rewritten on a new graphical engine that provides better better performance and scalability. And not only that (and I quote): "Future releases will see other modelers being re-hosted on this new framework". Initially we will most benefit from this as it will greatly improve the usability of the modelers, not only from an editing point of view but also regarding publishing the models. And whoever has been on a project that involved more than just a few tables knows how important that can be.

Can't wait to get my hands dirty on that! But first I need to revisit the other modelers as well, so watch out for new postings about that. I already can tell you that the UML use case modeler of 10.1.3 definitely has more seriously been changed!

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