Customer Reviews: The Unified Modeling Language Reference Manual
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on December 31, 1999
Let's be clear - this book is a reference manual, not a tutorial. Don't use this book to learn what the UML is all about. But when you want to answer a question about how to show something or what something means, then this book is invaluable. It's my first reference choice because, unlike the specification, it is written with explanation in mind. I turn to it more than any other UML book and so far I've found that when this can't answer my question, it's because the UML designers haven't thought about it yet.
So to sum up: if you use the UML seriously, make sure you have a copy handy.
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on September 16, 1999
This book is by no means an introductory text. It assumes you already know UML. I do not think it would be of any value to managers or students. It is also of little value to developers that are happy downloading the 808 page UML specification and crunching through it. For the power UML engineer that needs to refer to the UML constructs, elements and semantics and discover new ones quickly when designing systems, this book will come in very handy indeed. Unlike other (valuable) UML books, this one will come down from the bookshelf often.
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on June 18, 2001
This book is one in a series of three by the three amigos. It is certainly the most authoritative and accurate of all three (the other two being very fuzzy in places). The book consists of the following major sections:
I: Background (some history) II: UML concepts (static, use case, statechart and other 'views') III: Reference
This book is pure syntax and can answer most of the questions that you might have about UML syntax. However, this book is not for beginners because it assumes (in my opinion) that you have applied UML to real-life situations. I find the book to be well-written (even if it is fairly dry) and compares favouably with other books in the UML series. There are different ways that you can use this book. First, you can consult it to check of you are using the correct UML syntax in your applications. Second, you can use it to deteremine what you have still to learn in UML (for example, activity diagrams, statecharts). This book should complement the other, more application-specific UML books. For example, it could be seen as a follow-up of Fowler's somewhat outdated UML Primer.
It would have been a good idea if the authors had included a complete test case showing how all the specific 'views' are documented and how they fit together. UML has about 11 different views and which one to use and when will be a major undertaking if you are embarking on a first project.
This book will be outdated as soon as the new UML 2.0 specification is ready. Do the authors have plans for a new version of their book "UML Reference 2.0"?
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on May 9, 2001
This book is a comprehensive, well-written reference that stays by my side whenever I'm modeling. The accompanying CD-Rom has the book's text stored as a PDF file and is arguably even more useful because it is hyperlinked.
A few others reviewers disagree, but their complaints suggest a misunderstanding of the book's intent. This book is a "Reference Manual." It is not a tutorial and does not cover tangental topics (like good/bad OOAD practices). Think of it as a UML encyclopedia.
If you want a concise description of every UML diagram and notation then this is the book you want.
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on February 3, 2000
This is the authoritative reference manual to UML, written by the creators of UML. The reference is complete (at least as far as I can tell).
A CD-ROM is included with the book. This CD-ROM has the complete book as a PDF file, with extensive cross references (as links). I usually hate to read lengthy material on the computer screen and I usually prefer a (paper) book, but the PDF file on the CD-ROM is really great. The cross references makes the PDF file easier to use than the book. (The "standard" document on UML from OMG is also included on the CD-ROM).
The book is written in a formal and boring style. Another thing that makes the book less enjoyable to read is the layout of the text. The lines are too long, and the spacing between the lines is inadequate.
The main part of the book is the alphabetically ordered reference. Before the reference part, the book has a short (85 pages) overview/introduction to UML. When I read the paper book I could not understand who would benefit from this text: the text is too harsh for the novice, but lacks all the details an advanced user would be looking for. However, on the cross referenced CD-ROM this text turned out to be a valuable part.
The book is a very unbiased reference. This is also a weak side of the book. You will not get any advice about good practices, or useful ways to apply UML for different design organizations.
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on February 21, 1999
I was expecting a dry through explanation of notation. This book is not that at all. This was by design though.

The book attempts to cover all of the important topics. To get there, it takes an unusual approach. There are a few introduction chapters as might be expected. Part 2 of the book has one chapter per view. In each chapter, the view is covered both notation-wise and discussion-wise.

Part 3 was the biggest surprise for me. It is an "encyclopedia of terms." This section is worthwhile even if you are an OO person who doesn't care about diagramming with UML. It gives a definition for each term and frequently the Semantics, Notation and Discussion associated with it.

However, this book is a rough read. I opened the book randomly and found the following as an example: "Branch: An element in a state machine in which a single trigger leads to more than one possible outcome, each with its own guard condition." After reading it a second time carefully along with looking up what a "guard condition" was, I understood. The point though is that the definitions are rigorous, but hard to digest on a quick read.

The book is worth buying for your reference library for the encyclopedia section alone. I will personally be using it when I have a situation to model and know the term but not the UML syntax. The encyclopedia will lead me to the syntax.
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on January 9, 2010
This book has 4 parts. Part 1, Background, contains an UML Overview - UML summary, goals, complexity, assessment and concept areas - and a short overview on models, their meaning and purposes. Part 2, UML Concepts, contains an UML Walkthrough that summarizes all UML views, followed by short chapters on each one of the views, one on Profiles and one on the UML Environment. Part 3 contains the Reference. Part 4 contains appendices.

Part 3, the Reference, actually what the book has been edited for, contains a Dictionary of Terms listed in alphabetical order. Each entry is structured as follows: The entry name, a short definition of a few sentences, the semantics of the term, its notation and, as necessary, a discussion and the history.

This is a reference book, not a user's guide nor a tutorial. It acts as a dictionary to UML terms and mainly follows the same principles as for an English language dictionary. It's not unusual for a definition sentence of an entry to call another entry that in turn calls another one, and so on. Entry descriptions are mostly given in text form, with the support of figures wherever necessary. Language is often elaborate, not always straightforward. However, taken into account the detailed terms coverage and description provided in this book, few of them really remain inaccessible.

As for an English language dictionary, the linear reading of this book will be of little help to the learning of the language.
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on May 1, 1999
Someone using the UML to model, should use the User Guide. I think it the most usefull UML book at the moment. The Reference Manual promises to be more than the User Guide, while, in fact, it delivers less. The Reference Manual is filled with some good explanations about the use of the UML, but beware, it surely is NO reference manual. First, what version of the UML is described? It's not in the book. Second, some (basic) things are not described in the book. Third, the book contains errors. OK, the UML is to difficult to be described in a single book (that's why at this moment you can at least buy 20 books that (suprisingly) all describe about the same portion of the UML), but even basic things are excluded. An example? Try to find the definition of "class attribute" or "class operation". Yes, in fact you can find it, if you're keen enough to look in the index and think that it will probably be listed under "class-scope". But when reading that paragraph, you'll never see how to model class-scope properties. The class operation is modelled somewhere during the discusion of classes, the class attribute is never modelled in the book. I'm using the book for a week now, and I am very disappointed. I'm hardly using it anymore, instead I returned to using the User Guide and the original UML specifications.
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on March 17, 2004
I do a lot of UML modelling, and I keep this book by my desk at all times. It has in-depth information, is well-written, and is well-organized.
The Reference Manual and the Users Guide are generally sold as a pair. Quite frankly, if you have the Reference Manual, then you don't need the Users Guide.
If you are just learning UML and are already familiar with any formal design methodologies, then you can do just fine with the Reference Manual alone. However, if you are new to graphical modeling in general, you may want to buy "UML for Dummies" to serve as a useful introduction.
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on September 22, 1999
This is silly. Some folks think that the Reference manual stinks and the User Guide is their silver bullet. Others feel exactly the opposite.
The fact is that these books are pretty good. Each book has it's place. I have all three, and all are useful depending on the situation. All have errors and yes the writing can be dry. Get over it. They are still good -- not perfect, but the best i've seen yet.
I think you complainers are looking for the proverbial silver bullet and upset at not finding it, propose to judge on what you don't understand. These aren't they; instead these three books are three lead slugs that complement the rest of my tool-ordinance for some significant firepower.
Ted Rallis
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