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Evolution of UML

Evolution of UML

Identifiable object-oriented modeling languages began to appear between mid-1970 and the late 1980s as various methodologists experimented with different approaches to object-oriented analysis and design. The number of identified modeling languages increased from less than 10 to more than 50 during the period between 1989-1994. Many users of OO methods had trouble finding complete satisfaction in any one modeling language, fueling the “method wars.” By the mid-1990s, new iterations of these methods began to appear and these methods began to incorporate each other’s techniques, and a few clearly prominent methods emerged.

The development of UML began in late 1994 when Grady Booch and Jim Rumbaugh of Rational Software Corporation began their work on unifying the Booch and OMT (Object Modeling Technique) methods. In the Fall of 1995, Ivar Jacobson and his Objectory company joined Rational and this unification effort, merging in the OOSE (Object-Oriented Software Engineering) method.

As the primary authors of the Booch, OMT, and OOSE methods, Grady Booch, Jim Rumbaugh, and Ivar Jacobson were motivated to create a unified modeling language for three reasons. First, these methods were already evolving toward each other independently. It made sense to continue that evolution together rather than apart, eliminating the potential for any unnecessary and gratuitous differences that would further confuse users. Second, by unifying the semantics and notation, they could bring some stability to the object-oriented marketplace, allowing projects to settle on one mature modeling language and letting tool builders focus on delivering more useful features. Third, they expected that their collaboration would yield improvements in all three earlier methods, helping them to capture lessons learned and to address problems that none of their methods previously handled well.

The efforts of Booch, Rumbaugh, and Jacobson resulted in the release of the UML 0.9 and 0.91 documents in June and October of 1996. During 1996, the UML authors invited and received feedback from the general community. They incorporated this feedback, but it was clear that additional focused attention was still required.
While Rational was bringing UML together, efforts were being made on achieving the broader goal of an industry standard modeling language. In early 1995, Ivar Jacobson (then Chief Technology Officer of Objectory) and Richard Soley (then Chief Technology Officer of OMG) decided to push harder to achieve standardization in the methods marketplace. In June 1995, an OMG-hosted meeting of all major methodologists (or their representatives) resulted in the first worldwide agreement to seek methodology standards, under the aegis of the OMG process.

During 1996, it became clear that several organizations saw UML as strategic to their business. A Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by the Object Management Group (OMG) provided the catalyst for these organizations to join forces around producing a joint RFP response. Rational established the UML Partners consortium with several organizations willing to dedicate resources to work toward a strong UML 1.0 definition. Those contributing most to the UML 1.0 definition included: Digital Equipment Corp., HP, i-Logix, IntelliCorp, IBM, ICON Computing, MCI Systemhouse, Microsoft, Oracle, Rational Software, TI, and Unisys. This collaboration produced UML 1.0, a modeling language that was well defined, expressive, powerful, and generally applicable. This was submitted to the OMG in January 1997 as an initial RFP response.

In January 1997 IBM, ObjecTime, Platinum Technology, Ptech, Taskon, Reich Technologies and Softeam also submitted separate RFP responses to the OMG. These companies joined the UML partners to contribute their ideas, and together the partners produced the revised UML 1.1 response. The focus of the UML 1.1 release was to improve the clarity of the UML 1.0 semantics and to incorporate contributions from the new partners. It was submitted to the OMG for their consideration and adopted in the fall of 1997.

UML has matured significantly since UML 1.1. Several minor revisions (UML 1.3, 1.4, and 1.5) fixed shortcomings and bugs with the first version of UML, followed by the UML 2.0 major revision, which is the current OMG standard.

The first part of UML 2.0, the Superstructure which describes the new diagrams and modeling elements available, was adopted by the OMG in October 2004. Other parts of UML 2, notably the infrastructure, the Object Constraint Language (OCL) and the diagram interchange were yet to be completed and ratified as of November 2005.

The final UML 2.0 specification has been declared available and has been added to OMG’s formal specification library. The other parts of the UML specification, the UML 2.0 infrastructure, the UML 2.0 Diagram Interchange, and UML 2.0 OCL specifications have been adopted.

The current version available is 2.1.1 (August 2007) and is available in the form of an XMI 2.1 version of the UML 2.1 version. The corresponding XMI 2.1 file is made available from the OMG. The version 2.2 is currently under development.
Most of the commercially successful UML tools now support most of UML 2.0, leaving only the rarely used features left to implement. Of course, it will take some time for the tools that are in the hands of the developers to reach this level of compliance.