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So who’s totally happy with the way software is designed right now?

Not many I bet.

UML IMHO is just a tool-kit, nothing more. It’s a tool-kit that currently doesn’t get close enough to allow the developer to code from it.

Developers are creative and boy do they need to be with the amount of questions they have to answer, no wonder they get cheesed off with Architects and Analyst! Aren’t they supposed to answer all theses darns questions before it gets to the developer?

Yes we can talk about UML 2.0 if you want? IMHO UML 2.0 is just too complicated! Most people just about understand UML as it stands, the new artefacts are just a nightmare and I'm just not interested in learning them because I don't believe they will do any good, or I will ever use them or I will ever see them used.

At the end of the day people like to ‘Keep It Simple’. UML is no longer simple.

Ok, so software is complicated, agreed, but it just has to be easier than this?

I think Microsoft realised this awhile ago and this is perhaps the reason why they left OMG.

Microsoft have been clever enough to not say OMG and UML aren’t the answer, but have come up with a few solutions of their own which they placed under the banner of Visual Studio 2005 Team System Modeling Strategy.

(Personally, I don’t want to debate ‘Modelling’ v ‘Modeling’. English is about meaning, if you understand what a word means job done surely? I prefer to use 'modelling' as I won't have as many red squiggly lines in Word, I will leave Microsoft’s spelling unchanged, oh well fewer red squiggle lines then)

Now Visual Studio 2005 Team System Modeling Strategy isn’t anything really new just a collection of ideas that have been around for awhile now.

Right. I am going to say upfront, I’m not all that happy about this new initiative being tied to the new version of Visual Studio (2005). I feel describing the new tools and processes sometimes comes across as a sales exercise. Now if some of the new tools work with the existing version of Visual Studio I think the Model Strategy could be received less cynically.

Right that said lets move on.

Visual Studio 2005 Team System Modeling Strategy is Microsoft’s implementation of the Software Factories paradigm shift.

Software Factories is about a whole bunch of concepts that have been around for along time but pulling them altogether to make one strong coherent way forward for developing software.

In short Software Factories is integration of modelling with patterns, frameworks and agile development.

So how is Microsoft cracking the modelling problem? By using different types of diagrams that are built to be experts in their respective specific problem domain.

Less the total sum of artefacts in all of these diagrams is bound to be greater than UML, but these diagrams are masters of their own trade and not a ‘Jack’ that is master of none. These diagrams are called DSL’s or Domain Specific Languages.

Complied with the toolset DSL’s actually live with the project, when the project changes the diagrams reflect this. The rules of the project can even be enforced by them inside Visual Studio 2005.

Visual Studio 2005 is spilt into three main parts to reflect the different parts and roles of project. Architect, Developer and Tester.


This diagram is from Visual Studio 2005 Team System: Overview that will give you a better overview of Visual Studio 2005 then I will. But before you read this document I suggest that you read this one first,Visual Studio 2005 Team System Modeling Strategy and FAQ which is a new document that finally summaries Microsoft vision for the future. Admittedly it isn’t as fun as reading my blog (employ me Microsoft and I will turn that around), but I did laugh when I read this,

“To summarize, we would recommend using UML and UML-based tools for:
• Sketching.
• White boarding.
• Napkins.
• Documentation.
• Conceptual drawings that do not directly relate to code.”

I would like to add stamps, back of used envelopes and of course pants! ;-)

When talking about Software Factories, you can’t not mention the book,

Software Factories: Assembling Applications with Patterns, Models, Frameworks and Tools

I would recommend that anyone involved in development goes out and buys this book ... or at very least reads it ... and before Visual Studio 2005 comes out, so not long then.

For my mind it is a paradoxical book, so important and I often found it spoke to me profoundly. I could whole-heartily emphasis with some sections at times but admittedly again at times not the easiest of reads which is a shame as important points can be lost by the lack of pure simplicity. To this end I have found this website handy which helps expand some of the key points.

Our industry doesn’t stand still and I would recommend nor should your understanding of it. Software Factories is latest paradigms instruction manual. Team System is the tool. It is time for you to get your head around it.

In future posts I will be going into detail of some of the key points, my first port of call will be the different types of DSL’s that we are all going to get to know and love, if we haven’t come across them already?

Posted on Sunday, June 5, 2005 11:05 PM | Back to top

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