In my last post I outlined some of the anti-patterns I had encountered with using UML for design purposes one of these anti-patterns “Where’s the Behaviour” was centered around overuse of static diagrams instead of focusing on the behavioural aspects of objects, for this I tend to favour sequence diagrams and this post is to review a product I have been using lately to help create sequence diagrams.
I’ll admit that I’m usually a whiteboard or paper & pencil kind of guy when it comes to modeling, however there are numerous times when this just isn’t feasible and you need to have a model in electronic format, this is where this app comes in.
Firstly it’s a Java application therefore making it cross-platform, so Linux and Mac developers aren’t left in the dark and for reference the version I’m basing this review on is v1.6.1.
The main thing I like about this app is that it works with you instead of against you, the simplicity is comparable to being able to pickup a pen and draw a box. You simply drag on the required artifact (object, comment, message etc…) just like in Visio however unlike Visio you don’t end up having to fight through multiple property dialogs just to be able to set the type of an object for instance. Other UML editors I have used have a similar drag and drop strategy but then use text based conventions to alter the display, Trace Modeler strikes the right balance.
It’s clearly had a lot of work put into it and looks very polished, when moving items around previews are shown to show where they will end up this is a nice feature and gives you some assurance when modifying your model. A lot of the visuals are configurable such as spacing, fonts and colors which helps to give you the diagram styling you’re after. And it has really good support for being able to export your model with various graphics formats being supported.
In most cases I would stick with whiteboard or paper & pencil however when you need to create an electronic sequence diagram I would use Trace Modeler.