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Registered: Apr 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 492

Gentleware proposes XMI extension

XMI is a XML dialect for the exchange of UML models. While XMI has won major adoption by UML tool vendors, it has yet to prove its promise for two major reasons:

1) lack of compatibility - there is no reference implementation, so therefore tool vendors have no compatibility testing to utilize.

2) lack of graphical information - XMI currently only represents model information and does not retain any graphical information such as the layout of a class diagram.

To address the second deficiency, Gentleware has produced a joint proposal with DaimlerChrysler and the University of Hamburg.

Gentleware is the German vendor of Poseidon for UML, a commercialized version of the open-source ArgoUML tool. They have done an outstanding job polishing and extending ArgoUML and show great promise for the UML tool market.

At a recent meeting of the OMG UML 2.0 task force in Helsinki, Finland, the proposal by the Gentleware team was able to gather support from major UML tool vendors, including Telelogic, Togethersoft, Rational, Softeam, I-Logix and others.

Essentially the proposal describes a metamodel extension for diagram interchange. The extensions allow graphical elements to be expressed in an XML representation of geometrical concepts such as Node, Edge and Connector. The proposal includes a discussion of how this XML extension would lend itself to transformation via XSLT to an SVG format for display in SVG compliant tools.

What all this basically translates to is that it may finally be possible to view UML models with greater ease using such common tools as a web browser.

What is striking about this proposal (and not so obvious) is that it has the potential for opening the UML tool market quite a bit. Until now, once you committed to using a UML tool, you were pretty much stuck with that tool because the graphical information was proprietary to each UML tool. If this proposal lived up to its potential, it could soon be possible to freely move UML models and and diagrams between tools from different vendors...

Given Gentleware's connection with the open-source and university communities, our prognosis is fairly positive for this proposal. If an open-source implementation of the revised XMI format were implemented, this could truly provide the reference implementation that XMI badly needs to gain full credibility. If, on the other hand, no open-source reference implementation is provided for this proposal, we predict that incompatibilities between XMI implementations will continue to slow the adoption of XMI in the marketplace.

For more information on XMI, see OBD's XMI to HTML.

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