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Jolt Awards for Design, Architecture, and Planning Tools


Jolt Award

Visual Paradigm for UML

Visual Paradigm International

Visual Paradigm for UML (VP-UML) is no stranger to the Jolt Awards. In 2004, it won a Jolt Productivity Award. That product is a mere shadow of the 2011 Jolt Award winner. Today, the product is not just about UML. Visual Paradigm is a fairly complete design toolbox.

Certainly, VP-UML has all of the features one expects from a UML modeling tool: reverse engineering code into a model in order to understand it, creating a UML model and generating source code from the model, and publishing the model to communicate the design to others. But, there's so much more. Do you want to perform textual analysis on requirements or use SysML to specify requirements? It's in there. What about business process modeling? That's in there. Want to design a database? VP-UML helps with support for E-R and ORM models. Do you need to develop traceability relationships between model elements? VP-UML has matrix diagrams for this. How about Mind Maps or affinity diagrams for brainstorming sessions? Yep, it's in there. The point is, that the product is one of the most complete design tools in software development.

It hits the sweet spot for software developers who desire a robust UML modeling tool, but want the freedom to use as little or as much formality as they need. For example, you can use it to simply communicate class relationships or at the other end to do the complete design of a large, complex system.

Some recent feature additions that help keep VP-UML at the top of the field are:

  • Brainstorming diagrams for quickly capturing ideas and organizing them
  • Mind mapping diagrams
  • Requirements capturing tools including CRC cards and UI design diagrams
  • Glossary support
  • Streamlined UI that unclutters the toolbar
  • Model quality checking

VP-UML has excellent reporting capabilities that can produce model documents in PDF, Word, or HTML format. The report generation dialog lets one easily select the diagrams and level of detail that will produce the right design document for each audience.

Learning to use the basic set of features takes relatively little time. Going beyond the basics requires more intimate product knowledge and time investment to learn the features. For example, there are sixteen tabs in the Class Specification dialog — more than most users need.

This complex view into the underlying model properties is not unique to VP-UML. Most full-featured modeling products have at least as much complexity. Providing a way for the user to easily select just the features needed with progressive levels of detail and required expertise would go a long way to improving product adoption. This is a minor complaint when compared with the value that VP-UML delivers.

We evaluated VP-UML Enterprise Edition for this year's awards. Depending upon your needs, you might opt for the Professional, Standard, or Modeler editions. If you're new to modeling, you can start with the free Community edition to learn with and then graduate to one of the other versions when you need more. Whichever edition you choose, you will get value from the time spent using the product.

— Gary Pollice


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