UML: A never-ending process
The Unified Modeling Language (UML) faced and overcame
significant hurdles in its march toward becoming a standard. The modeling
language was initially driven by a single vendor, frequently the kiss of death
in a standards effort. But Rational Software avoided the mistakes of earlier
efforts and was able to bring together competitors and skeptics. Key to
Rational's success was the hiring of several top developers of object-oriented
methodologies, gaining strong support from Microsoft Corp. early in the
process, and finally turning over ownership of the technology to the Object
Management Group. Even Rational's primary competitor, Platinum Technology Inc.,
jumped on board the UML bandwagon.
However, as Special Projects Editor Deborah Melewski notes in this month's
cover story, "UML gains ground,"
backers of the UML cannot take their eye off the ball. The language
is still very complex and ambiguous, and without some correction,
could potentially turn off at least part of another generation of
programmers to modeling. Microsoft has based its long-awaited development
repository on UML. While that support was important in establishing
the language, Microsoft has been known to take standards into uncharted
and uncertified areas.
We have lauded the process of creating the UML standard in these columns
before. The process has been unprecedented for its lack of controversy. But the
potential for problems is still strong. We urge backers of the language to
resist the temptation to extend the UML beyond its standard parameters. And we
advise I/S development units to keep vendors on the straight and narrow. We
don't need another example of a standards effort gone awry because a single
vendor thinks it knows best.
And, as Melewski points out, the UML effort will continue to roll along
throughout the rest of 1998. Some I/S units have started using all or part of
the language in significant development efforts. OMG officials say that the
standard has prompted more and more organizations to utilize modeling in their
development efforts. The next year could be the key to UML's future. We'll be
watching it closely and will be reporting updates through 1999.
Meanwhile, Senior Writer/Online Editor Jason J. Meserve updates the
quickly changing and somewhat convoluted application server market
in "Application servers come into focus." Meserve sheds
some light on the ever-changing market, while noting that I/S development
managers can expect a fast growing and constantly changing market
for the next 18 months.
Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.