Unwanted Modeling Language

3 November 2003

The UML means different things to different people, which is why I find the notion of people using a different UmlMode useful. Most people I talk to are interested in UmlAsSketch and this group isn't very impressed with UML 2.

The reason for this unhappiness is that the drive for UML 2 was to formalize and complete the UML to support MDA; primarily for UmlAsProgrammingLanguage (and secondarily for UmlAsBlueprint). As a result sketchers were pretty much ignored. This was largely their own fault as sketchers aren't interested enough in the UML to take an active role in the UML committees.

All this didn't surprise me. Something new that I discovered in the last couple of weeks (that included visiting UML 2003 and OOPSLA) was that disdain for UML is pretty rampant amongst the UmlAsProgrammingLanguage community too. After my talk at UML 2003 (broadly an appeal to not ignore the need of sketchers) several people came up to me to point out that people active in the MDA weren't particularly interested in the UML either.

Even on the MDA panel at OOPSLA, the pro-MDA speakers based their assumptions on the fact that they would be using a simplified subset of UML, and emphasized that you should not judge MDA on the UML. (Which didn't save them from a blistering attack by Dave "OTI" Thomas.)

I wonder where this will leave the UML in the future. I hear more mutterings from sketchers about the growing irrelevance of UML standards. In the MDA community it seems that we will see a rise of tools all using different subsets of the UML standards, probably extended subsets using profiles. What will this mean for the UML as an interchange mechanism between MDA tools? Some people are saying that the UML will not be the interchange mechanism - that the OMG MOF will play that role. This is all very well, but will users of MDA tools get portability in practice, or will each tool turn into its own proprietary language?