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Christopher Douce

Figuring out Visual Paradigm

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One of the tools (or languages) I learnt as a graduate student was UML; the unified-modelling language. UML is a standard that describes a group of related diagrams. Different diagrams describe different aspects of a software system. UML is used for design, but it can also be used to document requirements, and can help with communication between developers and engineers. If you are able to use UML, you’re able to share ideas about code and software with others more fluently.

One of the tools that I learnt about was a graduate student was Rational Rose, which is now called . At the time I thought it was witchcraft. You could sketch out a diagram using a drawing tool and it would be able to generate some computer code for you.

The postgraduate module M813 Software Development introduces students to a tool called Visual Paradigm which is a tool that I’ve never heard about before. This said, it does bear some similarities with other graphical software design tools that I’ve had the opportunity to have a play with.

The aim of this post is to share some notes and weblink that I’ve collated about Visual Paradigm and other related tools.

Looking at Visual Paradigm

After installing a trial version of Visual Paradigm, I’m taken to a training page: Visual Paradigm Essentials.

From here, I’m taken to an Udemy course, Visual Paradigm essentials where apparently there are 27 hours’ worth of video lectures to attend. The introductory course is intended to help users to “learn all essential skills of software design and modeling including, UML, BPMN and SysML”.

I picked up the following points from the introduction: it can be used to create use cases, business process diagrams, user stories, and a whole host of other diagrams. It also links to agile software development practices, and can play a role in user experience and customer experience design. 

Here is an abbreviated list of diagram types it supports: user experience diagrams (wireframes and sequence visualisation), customer experience maps, software system design diagrams (UML and cloud architecture design diagrams), entity relationship diagrams (database designs) and business design diagram diagrams (such as business process tools and organization chart tools).

It was also mentioned that it could generate and reverse source code from diagrams, and could be used to generate basic code. Database creation scripts could be generated from entity relationship diagrams.

Other tools and environments

In TM354 Software Engineering students use a tool called NetBeans, a Java integrated development environment. 

After a bit of internet searching about NetBeans and UML, I found there was a NetBeans plugin called easyUML. EasyUML makes it possible to convert Java code into class diagrams. 

Whilst digging around, I found a related bit of software called PlantUMLRelated to this project, there is also a NetBeans plugin called PlantUML-NB. The interesting thing about PlantUML is that is can generate UML diagrams from relatively small bits of text which is not too dissimilar to code. The textual basis of this utility reminds me of a tool called UMLet  which I’ve written about previously

It wasn’t too long until I discovered this page: Visual Paradigm IDE integrationThis page suggests it is possible to connect Visual Paradigm and NetBeans together; potentially facilitating that bit of witchcraft that I alluded to earlier. To substantiate this suspicion, I found an accompanying video clip called Perform UML Modeling in NetBeans with Visual Paradigm (YouTube).

Whilst looking at UMLet, I noticed that there was a reference to a Microsoft product called Visual Studio Code. When I was a developer working in industry, I used Microsoft Visual Studio every day. It turns out that Microsoft Visual Studio (Wikipedia)Microsoft Visual Studio (Wikipedia) is different to Microsoft Visual Studio Code (Wikipedia)Microsoft Visual Studio Code (Wikipedia) despite having a very similar name. Clearly things have moved on since I was a full time developer. There are a few things I need to catch up on.

Whilst reminding myself about bits of the Microsoft developer toolset, I found this article, which was all about Visual Studio and Visual Paradigm Integration.

Reflections

Different modules use different bits of software. Across the computing curriculum, computing students will be exposed to Python, Java and JavaScript. This will mean that they will be exposed to different programming environments and toolsets. Getting to grips with different environments and tools is a necessary graduate skill. What I will say is that when it comes to software engineering, graphical tools are likely to be important, along with other tools. The exact make up will, of course, depend on the context of software, and the problems that they are required to solve.

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