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Is Meta Mill the answer?

Michal Harezlak
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 06, 2000
Posts: 185
Hello, I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on UML tools and ask for you feedback on my findings.
Recently I have spent some time trying to figure out what tool to use in medium size corporation to Visual modeling with UML. I came up with criteria like: Ease of use, UML compliance, Maturity and Reliability, Team work support, Value (Cost/Features-Licensing polices), Hardware requirement, XMI support. I used that critrias to evaluate following tools. The evaluation process was not very formal since I did not have much time, so It might be a little baisa. Althought I was really surprised that the winner was a tool I have not used before.
Ease of use:
This criteria is derive from a requirement that introduction of modeling software should bare a minimal cost to the organization (amount of training necessary to use the tool, configuration, integration with process). Well-established major tools (XDE Modeler, JTogether, ArcStyler):
�Have lengthy deployment process
�Powerful therefore complicated interface (require extensive training) and configuration option
�Require other software development environment component (e.g. repositories) to be deployed, which introduces more complications and coast.
Simpler tools (VP-UML, Poseidon, Argo, Meta Mill) seem not to be able of creating elements outside of diagrams which causes incontinence with reuse of this elements. VP-UML presentation of diagrams list (views) is not flexible and dose not allows easy and intuitive artifacts organization. Poseidon and Meta Mill have very intuitive navigation and GUI. VP-UML has very easy to use integration with eclipse. Eclipse UML and JTogether are Eclipse plug in and provides seamless integration with IDE, but are difficult to use for other (analyst, system user, PM) then the developer.
UML compliance
All tools have a satisfactory level of UML diagrams available. (Use case, class/object, sequence, collaboration, state, activity, component diagram, deployment) as well as sufficient UML syntax implementation. Should look out how they do with 2.0
Maturity Reliability
During short period of testing ArgoUML and Poseidon caused large number of problems that are not acceptable during production development process. Eclipse UML and JTogether plug ins for eclipse caused significant number of problems during installation and use therefore this products I do not considere to be reliable. Rational XDE has minor quality problems.
Team Work support
Major problem (prohibiting) with Argo, Poseidon and UML-VP is lack of teamwork features (allowing number of users work on the model at the same time). This is promised (by the respective development teams) to be deliver mid this year. Meta Mill offers proprietary teamwork support with no integration with independent repository. XDE Modeler, JTogether, ArcStyler offer excellent team support trough integration with repositories and version control systems.
Value
XDE Modeler, JTogether, ArcStyler are expensive tools with single licenses cost exciding $2000 and high deployment cost (training, operating environment). These tools would not add significant value to organization with emerging software development process. Argo is open software with potentials but missing key feature and reliability therefore presents low value to organization. Meta Mill with unlimited licensees at $1000 presents high value for offered features. Poseidon and VP-UML with interesting licensing including free edition (community) present medium value because of missing teamwork and (for Poseidon case unstable behavior, for VP not flexible organization of artifacts).
Hardware
All of tools tested except for Meta Mill require vast system resources. Meta Mill has by far the smallest footprint and best performance (short response time and fast start).
XMI
XMI is OMG�s standard allowing portability of a UML model. All (except Argo and Eclipse UML) support Export/Import XMI. Poseidon and VP-UML did not manage to export and import model properly.

XDE Modeler, JTogether, ArcStyler and provide powerful set of feature although steep learning curve (from complexity) and high coast make them not suitable to achieve my goal of using lightweight and low cost process supported by Visual Modeling. Poseidon is not reliable and missing teamwork feature. VP is missing teamwork features, which are high priority. Argo is not mature enough All of tools tested (excluding Meta Mill) require vast system resources.
Meta Mill with easy to use interface, teamwork features and high value (features/price) is IMHO the tools for fast deployment of Visual Modeling. What is your opinion? Did I miss something?
Best.
[ January 12, 2004: Message edited by: Michal Harezlak ]
 
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