Modeling Style Guidelines

Style (n):

A particular manner or technique by which something is done, created, or performed.

– Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition.

Many resources – books, magazine articles, and web sites – focus on how to work with the artifacts of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) as well as other modeling techniques. These resources introduce you to various modeling artifacts, describe a methodology for applying the artifacts in practice, or describe how to apply patterns and strategies for creating better models. Unfortunately few of these resources touch on the subject of style and when they do they rarely devote little space to it. This includes my own book, The Object Primer 3/e, which provides an excellent overview of UML artifacts (as well as a few others because the UML isn’t sufficient for real-world development) and how to take them all the way to Java code and a relational database on the back end.

The focus of these pages is style. That’s it. It presents guidelines to improve the quality and readability of your software diagrams, making them easier to understand and to work with. Included are guidelines for applying various modeling notations effectively, such as when to apply aggregation between two classes instead of association, but excluded are design patterns such as Strategy or Facade. Note that the primary focus of this site, at least at first, will be the UML, the industry standard for modeling systems using object-oriented and component-based systems. Data modelers may find to be of interest.