No UML in Visual Studio 2008? It’s true.. and stupid..

There I was this afternoon, backfilling a waterfall requirement to produce a low-level design of a feature that is on it’s way to production, when I thought, “You know, it would be really handy to fire up Visio and get a first cut of a class diagram for this.”

It’s been a while, so I fired up Visio 2007 and stated scanning the menu options, looking for ‘Reverse Engineer’.  “It’s gotta be here somewhere.”, I think as I plow through the options.

No joy.

Now it’s time for the help system.  It says, “Open the project in Visual Studio then use the Visio UML option from the Project menu.”

I opened Visual Studio Team System 2008, and started looking.

Nope.  Not in the Project menu.  I looked some more.  It’s not there.

Then, out of the fog that is my memory some days, came a remembrance of a conversation I had with a Microsoft Product Manager some time ago in Redmond.

(Paraphrasing) “The Class Diagram tool let’s us add whatever we want to the palette.  If we had to go through the UML standards body we couldn’t make the progress we want to make.”

Oh yeah… No embrace and extend this time.

More like, disconnect and ignore.

Microsoft has decided that Class Diagram is all we need.  No more Visio Add-in.  No more UML in VSTS.

It’s arrogant in the extreme for Microsoft to simply assert that the Class Diagram tool in Visual Studio is sufficient for developers’ modeling needs.  UML is the standard, and Class Diagram is not UML. 

The other rub for me is that it requires the Architecture edition.  What about all the developers in my group?  I guess they all need the Architecture edition — which doesn’t include the Database Edition functions?

By-the-way, Visio has always been a poor choice for UML in my opinion.  Unless something significant has changed (my prior experience was so bad, I haven’t bothered to look since), the better choice has been Sparx Systems’ Enterprise Architect product.  It’s not an add-on like UML is to Visio; it’s purpose built and priced competitively.

No I don’t work for Sparx.

Removing integration with UML tools, even a poor tool like Visio, is a bone-headed move.

It’s not news that they decided this.  I knew about this a while ago; like two or three years, and I’m sure others remember too. 

It just bit me today for the first time because it’s the first time in five years that I have had to do low-level design diagrams after the fact to allow the checking of a box somewhere.  No one will ever look at these diagrams again, once they are perused to make sure they exist – not for understanding mind you.

And, no it’s not really news that Microsoft has done something like this again.

Unfortunately..

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5 thoughts on “No UML in Visual Studio 2008? It’s true.. and stupid..

  1. Hi Jon,

    I hate to make excuses for MS, but I can understand why they might discontinue UML.

    1. People complain about the solution a lot
    2. It doesn’t seem to be up-to-date with current UML standards (I’m no UML expert, that’s just what I hear)
    3. They seem to be doing a lot of work on visual designers inside of Visual Studio
    4. Visio is one application, but it opens up an endless universe of possible solutions, each one requiring expertise. Microsoft has only so much staff and so much money (stop laughing) to invest in each product.

    The last point has always been a problem for Visio–every drawing type is a potential black hole that requires expert knowledge to properly execute.

    I think MS hopes and prays that a third party will develop a top-notch UML solution on top of Visio. Maybe that’s an opportunity for those who really know about UML.

  2. Hi Jon,

    I hate to make excuses for MS, but I can understand why they might discontinue UML.

    1. People complain about the solution a lot
    2. It doesn’t seem to be up-to-date with current UML standards (I’m no UML expert, that’s just what I hear)
    3. They seem to be doing a lot of work on visual designers inside of Visual Studio
    4. Visio is one application, but it opens up an endless universe of possible solutions, each one requiring expertise. Microsoft has only so much staff and so much money (stop laughing) to invest in each product.

    The last point has always been a problem for Visio–every drawing type is a potential black hole that requires expert knowledge to properly execute.

    I think MS hopes and prays that a third party will develop a top-notch UML solution on top of Visio. Maybe that’s an opportunity for those who really know about UML.

  3. Hi Jon,

    Sorry for your frustration, I just wanted to let you know that UML 2.1 support is back in VSTS 2010. We are currently working on UML Class, Component, Activity, Use Case, and Sequence diagrams, along with a DSL called the Layer diagram. We have a public CTP that was released in October, and are currently working on Beta 1.

    Thanks
    Mark Groves
    Program Manager VSTS

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