Generation of uml component diagrams based on user specification.

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Introduction

The Unified Modeling Language (UML) is a graphical language for visualizing, specifying, constructing and documenting the artifacts of a software-intensive system. The UML gives us a standard way to write a system's blue prints like classes written in a specific programming language, database schemas, and reusable software components.

In the Unified Modeling Language, a component diagram depicts how a software system is split up into components and shows the dependencies among these components. Physical components could be, for example, files, headers, link libraries, modules, executables, or packages. Component diagrams can be used to model and document any system's architecture but are prevalent in the field of software architecture.

Component-based software engineering (CBSE) (also known as Component-Based Development (CBD) or Software Componentry) is a branch of the software engineering discipline, with emphasis on decomposition of the engineered systems into functional or logical components with well-defined interfaces used for communication across the components. Components are considered to be a higher level of abstraction than objects and as such they do not share state and communicate by exchanging messages carrying data.

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A UML tool or UML modeling tool is a software application that supports some or all of the notation and semantics associated with the Unified Modeling Language (UML), which is the industry standard general purpose modeling language for software engineering.

UML tool is used broadly here to include application programs which are not exclusively focused on UML, but which support some functions of the Unified Modeling Language, either as an add-on, as a component or as a part of their overall functionality.

Kinds of Functionality

UML tools support the following kinds of functionality:

Diagramming

Diagramming in this context means creating and editing UML diagrams; that is diagrams that follow the graphical notation of the Unified Modeling Language.

The use of UML diagrams as a means to draw diagrams of - mostly - object-oriented software is generally agreed upon by software developers. When developers draw diagrams of object-oriented software, they usually follow the UML notation. On the other hand, it is often debated whether those diagrams are needed at all, during what stages of the software development process they should be used, and how (if at all) they should be kept up-to date. The primacy of software code often leads to the diagrams being deprecated

Round-trip engineering

Round-trip engineering refers to the ability of a UML tool to perform code generation from models, and model generation from code (a.k.a., reverse engineering), while keeping both the model and the code semantically consistent with each other. Code generation and reverse engineering are explained in more detail below.

Code generation

Code generation in this context means, that the user creates UML diagrams, which have some connoted model data, and the UML tool derives from the diagrams parts or all of the source code for the software system. In some tools, the user can provide a skeleton of the program source code, in the form of a source code template where predefined tokens are then replaced with program source code parts during the code generation process.

There is some debate among software developers about how useful code generation as such is. It certainly depends on the specific problem domain and how far code generation should be applied. There are well known areas where code generation is an established practice, not limited to the field of UML.

The idea of completely leaving the "code level" and start "programming" on the UML diagram level (i.e., design level) is quite debated among developers. That is the vision for Model-driven architecture (MDA). This idea is not in such widespread use compared to other software development tools like compilers or software configuration management systems.

An often cited criticism is that the UML diagrams just lack the detail which is needed to contain the same information as is covered with the program source. There are developers that even state that "the Code is the design"

Reverse engineering

Reverse engineering in this context means, that the UML tool reads program source code as input and derives model data and corresponding graphical UML diagrams from it (as opposed to the somewhat broader meaning described in the article "Reverse engineering").

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Some of the challenges of reverse engineering are:

  • The source code often has much more detailed information than one would want to see in design diagrams. This problem is addressed by software architecture reconstruction.
  • Diagram data is normally not contained with the program source, such that the UML tool, at least in the initial step, has to create some random layout of the graphical symbols of the UML notation or use some automatic layout algorithm to place the symbols in a way that the user can understand the diagram. For example, the symbols should be placed at such locations on the drawing pane that they don't overlap. Usually, the user of such a functionality of a UML tool has to manually edit those automatically generated diagrams to attain some meaningfulness. It also often doesn't make sense to draw diagrams of the whole program source, as that represents just too much detail to be of interest at the level of the UML diagrams.
  • There are language features of some programming languages, like class- or function templates of the C++ programming language, which are notoriously hard to convert automatically to UML diagrams in their full complexity.

Model and Diagram Interchange

XML Metadata Interchange (XMI) is the format for UML model interchange. Unfortunately, XMI does not yet support diagram interchange, which is a significant shortcoming for a visual modeling language. Consequently, even when you can import a UML model from one tool to another with XMI, you will likely need to redraw your diagrams.

Model Transformation

A key concept associated with the Model-driven architecture initiative is the capacity to transform a model into another model. For example, one might want to transform a platform-independent domain model into a Java platform-specific model for implementation. It is also possible to refactor UML models to produce more concise and well-formed UML models. Finally, it is possible to generate UML models from other modeling notations, such as BPMN. The standard that supports this is called QVT for Queries/Views/Transformations. One example of an open-source QVT-solution is the ATL language built by INRIA.

Microsoft Visual Studio is the main Integrated Development Environment (IDE) from Microsoft. It can be used to develop console and GUI applications along with Windows Forms applications, web sites, web applications, and web services in both native code as well as managed code for all platforms supported by Microsoft Windows, Windows Mobile, .NET Framework, .NET Compact Framework and Microsoft Silverlight.

Visual Studio includes a code editor supporting IntelliSense as well as code refactoring. The integrated debugger works both as a source-level debugger and a machine-level debugger. Other built-in tools include a forms designer for building GUI applications, web designer, class designer, and database schema designer. It allows plug-ins to be added that enhance the functionality at almost every level - including adding support for source control systems (like Subversion and Visual SourceSafe) to adding new toolsets like editors and visual designers for domain-specific languages or toolsets for other aspects of the software development lifecycle (like the Team Foundation Server client: Team Explorer).

Visual Studio supports languages by means of language services, which allow any programming language to be supported (to varying degrees) by the code editor and debugger, provided a language-specific service has been authored. Built-in languages include C/C++ (via Visual C++), VB.NET (via Visual Basic .NET), and C# (via Visual C#). Support for other languages such as F#, Python, and Ruby among others has been made available via language services which are to be installed separately. It also supports XML/XSLT, HTML/XHTML, JavaScript and CSS. Language-specific versions of Visual Studio also exist which provide more limited language services to the user. These individual packages are called Microsoft Visual Basic, Visual J#, Visual C#, and Visual C++.

Currently, Visual Studio 2008 and 2005 Professional Editions, along with language-specific versions (Visual Basic, C++, C#, J#) of Visual Studio 2005 are available to students as downloads free of charge via Microsoft's DreamSpark program.

Designer

Visual Studio includes a host of visual designers to aid in the development of applications. These tools include:

WinForms Designer

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The WinForms designer is used to build GUI applications using WinForms. It includes a palette of UI widgets and controls (including buttons, progress bars, labels, layout containers and other controls) that can be dragged and dropped on a form surface. Layout can be controlled by housing the controls inside other containers or locking them to the side of the form. Controls that display data (like textbox, list box, grid view, etc.) can be data bound to data sources like databases or queries. The UI is linked with code using an event-driven programming model. The designer generates either C# or VB.NET code for the application.

WPF Designer

The WPF designer, codenamed Cider,[24] was introduced with Visual Studio 2008. Like the WinForms designer it supports uses the drag and drop metaphor. It is used to author user interfaces targeting Windows Presentation Foundation. It supports all WPF functionality including databinding and automatic layout management. It generates XAML code for the UI. The generated XAML file is compatible with Microsoft Expression Design, the designer-oriented product. The XAML code is linked with code using a code-behind model.

Web designer

Visual Studio also includes a web site editor and designer that allows web pages to be authored by dragging and dropping widgets. It is used for developing ASP.NET applications, and supports HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It uses a code-behind model to link with ASP.NET code. Visual Studio 2008 onwards, the layout engine used by the web designer is shared with Microsoft Expression Web.

Class designer

The Class Designer is used to author and edit the classes (including its members and their access) using UML modeling. The Class Designer can generate C# and VB.NET code outlines for the classes and methods. It can also generate class diagrams from hand-written classes.

Data designer

The data designer can be used to graphically edit database schemas, including typed tables, primary and foreign keys and constraints. It can also be used to design queries from the graphical view.

Mapping designer

Visual Studio 2008 onwards, the mapping designer is used by LINQ to SQL to design the mapping between database schemas and classes that encapsulate the data.

Psuedocode:

  • Step 1: Take input( Number of Components) from the user.
  • Step 2: Determine Attributes for each component.
  • Step 3: Mention the Relationship between two components.
  • Step 4: Draw the connectors with the help of the algorithm.
  • Step 5: Display the entire layout.