eWeek: IBM Takes On Microsoft Over Modeling Tools

In this article, eWeek compares the different approaches to modeling tools found in IBM Rational's "Atlantic" and Microsoft's Visual Studio Team System.

eWeek: IBM Takes On Microsoft Over Modeling Tools

One key issue separating IBM Rational's tools from Microsoft's VSTS (Visual Studio Team System) solution is the approach to modeling. UML is the OMG (Object Management Group) standard for modeling. IBM said it is necessary; Microsoft said it is not.

Rick LaPlante, general manager for VSTS at Microsoft, said UML represents an unnecessarily complex model for many developers and is not a strategy Microsoft will explicitly support. "Ten years from now, modeling won't be reserved for the priests in the organization," LaPlante said. "Nor will it be this thing done on the side that requires a special organization that is the only people who do modeling. I think it will become pervasive."

What do you think? Can modeling exist without UML?

Comments (7)

  1. How many people actually use UML "properly"? It can be a royal pain, and certainly overkill. In fact does anyone use models in anger in the way they were designed? I view them as a starting point, not an end point.

    Will we see a revision to the MCSD Analyzing and Defining Requirements book? I hope so.

  2. I have had the same vision about UML as Microsoft (that UML was too complex and was not really necessary, even in larger projects). Instead a lighter modeling languages would have been better, but there was no standard for it. I hope Microsoft will create this light standard as soon as possible (with VSTS). I also hope that the Analyzing Requirements MCSD book will change. 🙂

    PS: Many official standards from OMG, W3C, ETC. 🙂 are not that good as those that Microsoft would have been creating instead of them if they wouldn’t exist! Way to go Microsoft, change the World to better, don’t let conservators to stop the evolution! 🙂

  3. Wolfgang says:

    Sure. In my experience, UML is hardly ever done properly (ie, the shapes are used to the liking of the "modeler", not according to the rules of UML), and there’s a lot of people that just do NOT understand UML.

    Furthermore, again in my experience, for small projects strict UML is overkill and for large projects the UML diagrams tend to get too complex for anyone but the architect to understand completely…

    Therefore, I’d argue that you indeed DO NOT need UML. You DO need, however, some form of modeling. You DO need to have communication between architect and designer, programmers and others. Models are still the best way of communication.

    Also, Microsoft has done a good job of keeping UML from reaching its potential. Whether this was done deliberately or not, it cannot be good for a modeling language/method if the #1 tool (Visio) does not support it fully, and does not support its latest version (which has been around for quite some years now…)

  4. Adam Young says:

    It’s all very well to make modelling easy for beginners, etc, but UML is industry standard. Note also that, while VB-ers tend not to use UML (just an observation, no offence intended), there is a large number of C and java programmers who do. Purely from a marketing perspective (do you *want* devs to migrate to VS 2005, esp. the Java and C devs?) then MS has to cater for UML in some form, even if just for "advanced" users. I had high hopes for Whitehorse – finally (I thought), we’d see some *discipline" introduced into MS development. Dumbing down is all very well, but making a statement that something like UML is only understood by "high priests" in an organisation is a little bit naive and sends the wrong message to the dev community – "hey guys, UML and design is just for the elites! Down with UML!".

    As for UML being too complicated, I disagree. UML is actually very simple – what bewilders people are the wide variety of different diagrams available, and when to use them. Once you understand this, and actually spend a little time using UML, it’s actually pretty straight forward.

    Back to my original point – UML is an industry standard modelling notation; why go against the grain? MS can redefine modeling if they like, but the only devs they’ll be pleasing are the VB-ers – if in fact they can convice the VB-ers to start modelling at all, in UML, or in any notation.

  5. Steve Hall says:

    Possibly this shunning of UML is purposeful on the part of the marketing strategy surrounding VS2005: implement "good-enough" modeling for certain classes of developers, while leaving open the market for add-ons, such as Borland Together and Rational Rose XDE.

    Afterall, each time Microsoft "embraces and extends", a lot of Microsoft-bashers call for another FTC investigation into abuse of monopoly. Thus, maybe in order to prevent a lawsuit from the likes of Borland and IBM-Rational, they’re avoiding that market-segment and inventing something slightly different that neither offers, with the obvious hint that if you don’t find your needs fulfilled by Whitehorse, then there’s always the competitor’s solutions available… (I.e., a healthy "eco-system" surrounding VS2005 is a healthy Microsoft!)

  6. Bysza says:

    I think UML should be strongly supported by MS.

    I’ve graduated software engeneering few years ago and I got used to UML as a standard for modelling.

    Of course everyone should keep the balance and not exadurate with modelling…

    Each diagram has its well defined purpose and they’re very handy if used accordingly.

    Why put any limits to a good tool like VS?

    Let people decide what they want to use in their projects.

    If it’s not possible to introduce UML in VS.2005, then maybe Visio should be extended to the newest version of UML and start generating _useful_ source code from the model?

  7. twinsant says:

    Whatever language the Modelers speak in, it’s better to make them to talk to each other.

    May be there are some xml schema stand for uml to exchange the information?

    Or VSTS Modeler part could plug in some ISV functions, such as CRC and more?

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