Thursday, August 20, 2009

[Arch] UML Tools for Mac OS X

Following up a question I received via Twitter, and the fact, that a significant part of the developer-community is using Macs, I thought this might be a good opportunity to discuss some "UML Options" for the Mac. Now, this article is not meant as a definitive answer, I would hope for some follow-ups by readers in the comments.

Ok lets start: First there is heavy weight stuff, most notable Visual Paradigm. A warning: this is a fat tool. However, among the fat tools it is the one I liked the most. I am not using it any more, but it is generally rather easy to use and very feature rich. However, it is a pretty expensive commercial tool. Yes, they have a "community edition", because it is cool to have a community edition these days. But this one was (when I used it last year) rather a joke. See it as a test-preview.

There are also other commercial tools as well, e.g. Omondo. I have not much idea about this one though. Anyone?

On the other end of the spectrum are tools like UMLet (or Violet), which are also Java-based and work more or less good also on the Mac. These tools are very basic and one should not expect much. They are definitly not suited for "real" projects or commercial application, but can be a nice option e.g. for educational purposes. Sometimes one just needs to create some simple UML diagrams for a presentation, paper or book. For such purposes these tools might be useful. Plus both are Open Source tools.

The probably best free (but not Open Source) UML tool, and the one I would recommend is BOUML and this is sure worth a try. The main issue I have with nearly all free/OS UML tools is, that they are often driven by a single person or just very few developers. Hence the future of the particular tool is always a little unclear. To make things worse, there is no accepted open file-format for UML diagrams, that would allow easy exchangeability of the tool. Hence selecting a UML tool is always sort of a lock-in situation.

Also a consideration could be ArgoUML, which is also an Open Source tool and maybe the oldest one around. Has some issues as all OS tools, but apparently has a functioning community.

Finally there are some more or less general purpose drawing programs, that can be used for technical diagrams like EER or UML models as well (with some limitations) like OmniGraffle or Concept Draw and finally also OpenOffice Draw can be used for general purpose vector-oriented diagrams.

Would be happy about comments, experiences and further suggestions!

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