Author of “UML2 for Dummies“, Michael Jesse Chonoles talks about the history and memories of UML and also shares some essential aspects of Modeling.

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Kenji (CTO of Astah): Hi Michael. How are you?

Michael: I’m very fine. We are her at OMG conference in Austin, Texas.

AYM How UML was made?

Kenji: You are one of the gurus of UML. It was a long time ago but how were you involved in the UML movement?

Michael: Yeah, it’s a long story, I’ve been involved from the very beginning. In fact, I was the person who seconded the motion to approve UML 1.1 which is really the first UML. I was working for General Electric at that time and General Electric was using the modeling technique called “Object Modeling Technique – OMT” – sometimes called the “Rumbaugh Tequnique”. And I had used it and we started an organization within General Electric to teach OMT to the rest of the world. So I went to banks and all the companies besides the General Electric to teach it.

OMT (Object-oriented modeling tequnique)

Then what happened was, OMT and the “Booch method” and “Jacobson’s Method” which is something objectory which with UseCases they started to work together to unify to bring their methods into compliance with each other. So as soon as they started to talk about that, I who was the leader of OMT inside of General Electric at the time said “Well, we need to have a standardization of this.” and Jacobson went to OMG and said “Can we make a proposal to standardize an unified method?” and OMG eventually said “Well, unified method is too aggressive, so how about a unified notation?
So they changed their unified method to unified notation.

Kenji: So “a unified notation” does not include the “method” part?

Michael: Not the method. When you have Use Cases, that’s what they mean and this is what a box means, a class box means but it’s not like you have to do UseCases first, so some people, some companies will do UseCases first and that’s usually good but sometimes you’ll do classes first in different circumstances, so it was very hard to come up with a unified method but they were able to come up with a unified notation.
And they didn’t just take those three inputs, they went to all the Objects base modeling methods and at that time. I counted them and had a website where all of them were, there were over 50 different notations out there to do Object Oriented software modeling. So they took the best of all them and there was a big committee founded inside of OMG at the time to work on putting them together and the way this goes together, this doesn’t go together.. and then we eventually came out and the first UML that was approved was 1.1. So I was able to be a member of revision team, In fact I think I’ve written more issues, which are identified problems with the spec, than anyone else.

Kenji: Ahh, that’s great!

Michael: I am good at finding little things that need to be fixed. And in the process, in between, I got to write a book on the OMT method then afterwords, after 2.1 came out I wrote a book on a dummy’s book that you mentioned the “UML2 for Dummies” on UML 2. Now I am thinking about writing the next one UML 2.5.

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We don’t have to model everything in UML!

Kenji: In the presentation you gave us today (Modeling Myth), you said that “Don’t model everything.”

Michael: Sometimes management tells you “Model everything!” – I will model if they are going to pay me!  But you know, if you are trying to be agile, you don’t want to model things aren’t needed.

So model the stuff.. that’s new to you, more challenging and more difficult.

Kenji: So we don’t have to stick to “model and execute”. Just “Model to Communicate” is good?

Michael: That’s okay. That’s enough! There are times that model and execute is good. But if you are short on money, short on time, short on resources – which every project is. You might want to model stuff where you get the most bang for your buck – the most return on your investment.

That’s the stuff that’s hard. That’s the stuff that’s not known. That’s the stuff that’s hard. That’s it.

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Kenji: One more. You wake up, and you find that you have a power to change any 2 things in the world. What would you change?

Michael: World peace. I think world peace is a key thing, and that can take up 2 wishes – it’s complicated enough.

Kenji: Thank you Michael!

Michael: Thank you.