The Elements of UML 2.0 Style
Cambridge University Press, 2005   ISBN: 0-521-61678-6

Scott W. Ambler + Associates
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The Unified Modeling Language (UML) has been an important part of the software development landscape since it’s introduction in 1997.  We’ve seen the UML evolve over the years, it is now into its 2.x series of releases, yet one thing has been constant and is likely to remain so – modeling style.  Models are used by professional developers to communicate their work to project stakeholders or to other developers, and by understanding and following common modeling style guidelines you can improve the effectiveness of your models.

This book describes a collection of standards, conventions, and guidelines for creating effective UML diagrams. They are based on sound, proven software engineering principles 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.


The Strengths of The Elements of UML 2.0 Style

This guide attempts to emulate Strunk and White’s seminal text, The Elements of Style, which lists a set of rules describing the proper application of grammatical and compositional forms in common use within the written English language.  This book is small, short, and to the point.  Using a similar style of presentation, The Elements of UML 2.0 Style defines a set of rules for developing high-quality UML diagrams. In doing so, this guide:


How to Use The Elements of UML 2.0 Style

This book is an ideal quick reference describing UML modeling guidelines.  Just like The Elements of Java Style is being used by organizations as the basis for their Java coding guidelines, my hope is that organizations will use this book as the basis for the UML modeling standards and guidelines.


A Closer Look at The Elements of UML 2.0 Style

Much of the material presented in this book is covered online, and the pertinent links are provided below.   The primary advantage of the book is that it gathers these critical modeling guidelines in a compact and handy format -- a book that fits right in your shirt pocket.


What's Changed Since the First Edition?

I've made several changes in this edition:

Who Should Read The Elements of UML Style?

This guide targets professional software developers who are interested in:

In this book I make three assumptions:

  1. You understand the basics of the UML and modeling. If not, then I suggest The Diagrams of UML 2.0 if you’re looking for a brief overview of the UML and The Object Primer 3/e for a more comprehensive discussion.   

  2. Your focus is on business application development.  Although these guidelines also apply to real-time development all of the examples are business application oriented, simplifications of actual systems that I have built in the past.

  3. I assume that you belong to a Western culture.  Many of the layout guidelines are based on the Western approach to reading – left to right and top down.




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We actively work with clients around the world to improve their information technology (IT) practices, typically in the role of mentor/coach, team lead, or trainer.  A full description of what we do, and how to contact us, can be found at Scott W. Ambler + Associates