Mock4U: Agile UML with Balsamiq Mockup

For me it is important that it looks like a UML diagram, not how to create it or if a tool does a certain kind of validation of what I choose and combine. The coolest presentation is something like a hand-written diagram. That looks fresh, innovative and individual. Balsamiq Mockup does this for user interfaces perfectly. So, I only had to invent a way to teach UML to it. You guess it, I found one ;-).

To be minimalistic is a pretty efficient way doing things. Although, thinking about

  • what is important
  • when is it important
  • why is it important

can be a laborious task. Nevertheless, the first step to it is a specialized tool that concentrates on the important aspects.

For all those user interface design studies there’s Balsamiq Mockup implementing this philosophy. With this user experience in mind I thought about having something similar for UML.

It was clear from the early beginning that to get UML into Balsamiq can only be a hack. I started with class diagram elements. I was surprised how easy it was to simulate the UML notation. I didn’t even have to add an external graphic. There are tweaks, of course.

The current Balsamiq release doesn’t allow to add your own components to the library. So, you have to create a project file (your template) and copy certain UML elements into your own project. If you have a widescreen monitor you may take a copy of the template file and work inside it. You can copy elements from the left to the right side for your modeling project. Finally, you can delete the original template part and move your model to the left side.

Things that are really missing:

  • sticky edges that allow to keep the proportion of grouped elements during resizing
  • the explicit definition of editing zones inside a group

Well, because of this the editing and creation of diagrams is a bit more handy. But, Balsamiq has exellent tools that help to bear this. Mock4U delivers predefined groups that will help here, too. There’s an ongoing investigation to analyze which predefined groups are still missing.

This project is still in the early stages. The current download can be found on the Mock4U page.

Mock4U Class Diagram Elements


    • Ankit

      Hi Rainer,

      I guess the Use case, Sequence and Class diagram stencils are available for now. Can you please tell me when can the stencil for activity diagram be added?

  1. Stuart

    Rainer, what is the license for Mock4U? I am interested in using it for some of my class designs here at work but need to check the license first.

  2. Anonymous

    Hi Stuart,

    you are allowed to use it commercially. It makes no sense to me to restrict it to private use only. But, distribution or selling is not allowed. So, please, ask your co-workers to download their copies themselves from this blog.

  3. Anonymous

    I’ve extended the Mock4U archive with a readme file for license information and put UML sequence diagram elements to it, too.

  4. Mikegps1

    Very Cool — now to get my demo version of balsamiq with UML built in.

  5. Aa

    Any idees of extending the support yet ? Its a little small at the moment.
    Would like, component view and deployment view atleast.

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