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Borland Bridges UML Gap for .NET Developers

Borland Software launched a major update of its Together modeling platform last week. With this release—Together 2005 for Microsoft Visual Studio .NET—the software development toolsmaker breaks new ground in two areas: it provides Microsoft coders with support for the Unified Modeling Language (UML), and it marks Borland’s first foray into role-based modeling.

UML is a standardized set of modeling notations used as a language for designing and developing software applications. Although UML forms the foundation of many organizations’ modeling efforts, Microsoft has rejected it as the best medium for model-driven development, embracing instead an approach based on domain-specific languages (DSLs). DSLs are part of an industry effort to foster “software factories” to tailor the software development lifecycle to support customized applications for vertical and horizontal business domains.

“Microsoft has been very clear about their plans to pursue a DSL approach and not offering UML for model-driven development,” says Melissa Webster, research director at IDC. “They’ve pretty much said, if you want to do UML, go to one of our partners. That’s exactly the niche Borland is filling with the new Together release.”

With characteristic diplomacy, Borland describes its new offering as a “bridge between Microsoft’s own modeling solutions...and advanced modeling benefits offered through the use of the industry standard UML.”

“We hear from many of our customers that they’ve adopted UML as their standard modeling language,” says Borland product manager Tom Gullion. “They need to use UML within their development organization, and they need to develop on .NET. We hope to provide a bridge from that standard notation into the Microsoft platform.”

A recent survey by Forrester Research found that more than 50 percent of enterprise software decision makers were planning to use .NET development technologies. Borland Together 2005 supports both UML 1.4 and UML 2.0 diagramming, and other advanced modeling capabilities, for that expanding pool of Visual Studio .NET users.

This is the company’s third release of the Together product suite, but its first role-based modeling solution.

“Essentially, Borland is making their user interfaces customizable by role,” says IDC’s Webster. “If you’re an architect, you might want to see the whole toolkit. But if you’re less technical and you’re going to engage at a simpler level, you want some of that complexity masked. You don’t want to be confused by the UI; you want to be guided by it. This has become a fundamental part of designing an inviting and accessible product.”

Borland is offering the new Together release in two role-specific versions. Together Designer targets analysts and architects that need to validate software design and model requirements, while Together Developer targets developers that need to reduce complexity, improve quality and more easily understand their existing code base.

Together 2005 for Visual Studio .NET is designed to fit into Borland’s overall application lifecycle management strategy. For example, it integrates with other Borland products, such as the CaliberRM requirements management tool. It is also designed to be closely aligned with Borland’s Software Delivery Optimization vision, because modeling plays a key part in making software delivery a more manageable and repeatable business process, Gullion explains. As Borland put it, “By extending diagramming capabilities and linking internal code metrics to external metrics (process and performance) for analysis, organizations are able to ensure delivered software meets business and operational requirements.”

Borland’s Together Designer and Together Developer for Visual Studio .NET products are available now. For more information, visit www.borland.com/together.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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