The Agile Modeling (AM) Method

Modeling Style Guidelines: Strategies for Better Diagrams

The focus of these pages is modeling 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. 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.
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.


Modeling Style Topics:

Recommended Reading

Modeling style: Elements of UML 2.0 Style The Elements of UML 2.0 Style describes a collection of standards, conventions, and guidelines for creating effective UML diagrams. They are sound, proven strategies that lead to diagrams that are easier to understand and work with. These conventions exist as a collection of simple, concise guidelines that if applied consistently, represent an important first step in increasing your productivity as a modeler. This book is oriented towards intermediate to advanced UML modelers. Although there are numerous examples throughout the book it would not be a good way to learn the UML (instead, consider The Object Primer). The book is 188 pages long and is conveniently pocket-sized so it’s easy to carry around.
Choose Your WoW! 2nd Edition This book, Choose Your WoW! A Disciplined Agile Approach to Optimizing Your Way of Working (WoW) – Second Edition, is an indispensable guide for agile coaches and practitioners. It overviews key aspects of the Disciplined Agile® (DA™) tool kit. Hundreds of organizations around the world have already benefited from DA, which is the only comprehensive tool kit available for guidance on building high-performance agile teams and optimizing your WoW. As a hybrid of the leading agile, lean, and traditional approaches, DA provides hundreds of strategies to help you make better decisions within your agile teams, balancing self-organization with the realities and constraints of your unique enterprise context.
The Object Primer 3rd Edition: Agile Model Driven Development (AMDD) with UML 2 The Object Primer 3rd Edition: Agile Model Driven Development with UML 2 is an important reference book for agile modelers, describing how to develop 35 types of agile models including all 13 UML 2 diagrams. Furthermore, this book describes the fundamental programming and testing techniques for successful agile solution delivery. The book also shows how to move from your agile models to source code, how to succeed at implementation techniques such as refactoring and test-driven development(TDD). The Object Primer also includes a chapter overviewing the critical database development techniques (database refactoringobject/relational mappinglegacy analysis, and database access coding) from my award-winning Agile Database Techniques book.


Creator of the Agile Modeling method and author of over 25 books.