A comprehensive review on UMLet
For those who believe in Martin Fowler’s idea of sketching the various UML diagrams in design/coding phase of Software development Life Cycle, here is a great tool. Lightweight, sharp, free and fast, the UML diagramming tool – UMLet is a users delight.
Diagramming could have never been made so easy and simple. You aren’t supposed to be a UML expert to use the UMLet, nor does the tool care about yet another markup language – UML! But it helps you in a simple way to sketch the UML diagrams. UMLet is supported in all major platforms – Windows, Linux, Mac OS X.
UMLet comes as standalone software running on java and also an eclipse plugin, which you can use from your installed eclipse. Refer the installation steps provided at the end of the post.
How to Use/Features
UMLet doesn’t contain any dictionary of reusable objects and their properties. It doesn’t throw a dialog box at you to modify shapes and properties. It simply lets you modify the basic UML shapes with texts and annotations. You store these changed shapes as templates so that you can use them all over again. It provides java based code window where you can write your own Java code to generate new Shapes/Design elements. Generating UML diagrams on the fly and quickly is what UMLet cares about.
The tool would definitely come handy for Software designers who are preparing a Design Document and want to quickly paste a sketch of a Class Diagram, Sequence Diagram or say a Use Case Diagram to their document to elaborate their case. At the time of writing this post UMLet has provided support for activity diagrams, class diagrams, sequence diagrams, state diagrams, use case diagrams, deployment diagrams, which in most cases is sufficient.
UMLets also allows you to export your diagrams into popular image based extensions like BMP, EPS, GIF, JPG, PDF, PNG, SVG etc. The diagrams natively are saved in UXF format. So what is this UXF extension, well it is a XML-based model interchange format for UML. A standard to encode, publish, access and exchange UML models. UMLets uses this as its native.
To work on the diagrams, you can use general copy paste commands of your OS platform like CTRL+C, CTRL+V, CTRL+O, CTRL+N for Windows or COMMAND+C, COMMAND+V, COMMAND+O, COMMAND+N for Mac OS X.
How to Install UMLet
Step#1: Download from here. UMLet : www.umlet.com/changes.htm
Step#2: Put the jar file into eclipse plugin folder if you want to use it as eclipse plugin.
Step#3: If you want to use the standalone tool, run the jar file directly!
Though UMLet is an awesome tool, there are a few gaps.
1. It can’t generate code from Diagrams which a few other tools do support. It has been intentionally designed this way to keep UMLet fast and light.
2. It doesn’t provide support for design patterns which can be achieved only through workarounds.
Verdict: UMLet is one of the best free tool available around. It can be used in those projects where budget is a concern but quality can’t be compromised. For designers looking for a quick sketch, it is the right tool.