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Microsoft .Net Gets UML 2.0 Modeling

New Borland Together modeling tools provide Unified Modeling Language 2.0 capabilities to Visual Studio development languages.

Unified Modeling Language 2.0, which helps convert a model of a software system into actual code, has come to the Microsoft .Net set of development languages.

A new version of the Together modeling tools from Borland Software Corp. brings UML 2.0 to the Microsoft Visual Studio set of languages, including Visual Basic, Visual C++, and Visual C#.

The UML 2.0 support is found in two role-based tools. Together 2005 for Visual Studio .Net Designer is priced at $1,500 per user and is aimed at software analysts and architects who are matching up a project's user requirements to a system's design. Together 2005 for Visual Studio .Net Developer, priced at $1,000 per user, is aimed at developers who want to produce code closely linked to a design and review it.

The UML 2.0 support in Together for Visual Studio offers a more precise way to model complex software systems, and Borland is one of the first to make it available in the .Net environment, says Prashant Sridharan, Microsoft's product manager for Visual Studio 2005.

UML 2.0 brings a complex notation language and diagramming method developed by Grady Booch while at Rational Software. Booch is now a fellow, or researcher, in IBM's Software Group. UML also embraces the "use-case" approach pioneered by Ivar Jacobsen, a former VP of business engineering at Rational. His use cases link system user requirements to software models. A third UML author, Jim Rumbaugh, now retired, came up with structured software classes represented in UML.

Borland's Together tools for Visual Studio bring the capability to import UML 2.0 software models conceived in Rational Rose, a high-end IBM development tool, into the Microsoft .Net environment, a capability that had been lacking so far, says Mark Brown, Borland's product marketing manager for the Together suite.

Before Borland's announcement, Microsoft development tool managers had said they considered UML 2.0 to be too complicated with too steep a learning curve, although support for UML 1.4 for diagramming and documentation has been included in Microsoft's Visual Studio tools.

Microsoft is working with the idea of modeling for "software factories" or rapid development environments, Sridharan says. Where UML is general purpose and horizontal, Microsoft is thinking in terms of factories that might invoke domain-specific languages geared to create software for a particular industry or specialized, vertical type of application.

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