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Modelling Methodologies

Are there any modelling experts hiding here in JOS land? I could do with some help.

I am looking for a diagramming method that will let me draw smoothly something like the following scenario:

"Mary collects the application forms and passes them to Jim, who punches them into the CRM database before deciding whether to route to Alex or Ian for further processing..."

Basically I need something that has files/documents/things, actors and decisions/branching methods.

Since I don't want to cover the wall with paper, something 'drill down' would be good too.

I am currently using IDEF0, but that isn't quite right (and IDEF3 feels even worse). There is probably something in the UML battery, but I don't know what.

Any suggestions?


Les C
Friday, July 2, 2004

Use Visio if you want a quick and simple solution. It has templates for all sorts of modelling (including UML, etc) and you can do actions such as drill-down, etc.

If you want something to help you write the code too, or re-factor it, etc, then I guess Visio is not the tool for the job and you'd need something a bit more heavy weight.

I love Visio though (I wish I'd thought of that, and sold it to MS for $1B), it's a quick and dirty diagram tool, but can be used for formal documents too.

Steve Jones (UK)
Friday, July 2, 2004

Especially when you poke around and find all the icon libraries available.

You can also use bmp's for icons if you're still missing something.

Friday, July 2, 2004

I don't mind Visio as a tool. Still looking for the right method though !

Les C
Friday, July 2, 2004

Start with: use cases in the form of activity diagrams.  I know Fowler recommends against this combination, but for complex use cases (multiple decision points and even parallel activities) I like to steer clear of all-text use cases.  For one thing, no one wants to read them.  Whereas "flow charts" *look* interesting.

But keep them as use cases, and not mere flow charts.  Have *multiple* activity diagrams representing different *specific* scenarios of different parts of the system -- rather than showing all the complexity of the entire system on one big diagram, which would have, at best, very limited use.

I realize that this method won't directly reveal document ownership with cute little file icons, but I think maybe you can describe these states in each box (as you've done in text above), and that may be clear enough. 

Data flow and actor behavior are different abstractions, so I think you will have trouble finding a format that captures both with equal clarity.  In my experience, almost every system desperately needs use cases, but these often need to be complemented by other specs.

Friday, July 2, 2004

UML activity diagrams.

Enterprise architects of Sybase Powerdesigner.

Friday, July 2, 2004

Start with

then move to

Then read the crash course UML in a Weeken book

Friday, July 2, 2004

IF you are cheap or on a low budget you could use argouml or Proxy designer, however I'm not sure if they are still free

Friday, July 2, 2004

Les C. 

Are you developing a workflow system? If so, you might have a look at
Workflow Management: Models, Methods, and Systems  by Wil Van Der Aalst and Kees Van Hee

It is a bit academic, but it will not hurt to have a look.  It has an appendix on UML that might help you.  Additionally the chapter about functions and architecture is very informative.


Cecilia Loureiro
Monday, July 5, 2004

Thanks for the feedback folks

Les C
Monday, July 5, 2004

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