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.