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UML Class Diagram Optimization Process Disclosure Number: IPCOM000031672D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Oct-04
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Oct-04
Document File: 4 page(s) / 102K

Publishing Venue



A method is needed for improving the readability and usability of Unified Modeling Language (UML) diagrams in technical documentation and other forms of technical information. This invention will help optimize the UML diagram that is most commonly found in technical documentation, the class diagram.

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CA820040053 Paul Barrett/Markham/IBM Steve Murphy, Neil MacKinnon, Algo MacNada, Challen Pride-Thorne

UML Class Diagram Optimization Process

Main Idea

The UML Class Diagram Optimization Process resolves the issues of poor usability and readability of UML class diagrams. The process helps users to understand and apply good visual and information design principles. By guiding users through a series of steps in which they eliminate superfluous information and restructure visual elements, the process facilitates the creation of a concise, organized, well-designed class diagram as its end product. Other users who read documentation containing the optimized UML class diagrams benefit from a clearer representation of concepts, complex interactions, and technical information.

    The UML Class Diagram Optimization process presents step-by-step instructions on how to design, organize, and construct clear, concise, and usable class diagrams for technical documentation or other presentation medium. A user will proceed through the steps, continually editing and fine-tuning their class diagram. These steps can be implemented using any class diagram development tool, or even when drawing a class diagram manually.

    The following graphic (Figure 2) shows a diagram created without using the UML Class Diagram Optimization Process. It is disorganized and difficult to understand, and is of limited use to anyone encountering it in technical documentation or other presentation medium.


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Figure 1

    By implementing the UML Class Diagram Optimization Process, a user can transform the diagram above into a clear and useful addition to a technical document. The process comprises the following steps:

Eliminate any unnecessary captions or comments. This is especially important if



the document is to be translated. If text other than "hard-coded" names is included in the diagram, part or all of the diagram must be re-created in each language into which it is being translated, increasing production time and costs. Note: If developers must include commentary for their diagram, they should use a mark to indicate a comment, and then include the text of the comment below the diagram. No mark can be used that has a particular meaning in UML diagrams (for example, the asterisk, "*"). The following symbols, included with the Arial font in Windows-based systems, can safely be used to denote a comment in a UML diagram:

†, ‡, , , , , . , , .

Show only those operations for each class that are crucial to the concept being

illustrated, and suppress all other non-essential operations. This will enable the


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developer to minimize the size of boxes, and reduce the overall size of the diagram.

Eliminate any blank space that might appear in boxes that represent the various


classes in the diagram. Blank space does nothi...