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UML Distilled: A Brief Guide to the Standard Object Modeling Language (2nd Edition) 2nd Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 078-5342657838
ISBN-10: 020165783X
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The second edition of Martin Fowler's bestselling UML Distilled provides updates to the Unified Modeling Language (UML) without changing its basic formula for success. It is still arguably the best resource for quick, no-nonsense explanations of using UML.

The major strength of UML Distilled is its short, concise presentation of the essentials of UML and where it fits within today's software development process. The book describes all the major UML diagram types, what they're for, and the basic notation involved in creating and deciphering them. These diagrams include use cases; class and interaction diagrams; collaborations; and state, activity, and physical diagrams. The examples are always clear, and the explanations cut to the fundamental design logic.

For the second edition, the material has been reworked for use cases and activity diagrams, plus there are numerous small tweaks throughout, including the latest UML v. 1.3 standard. An appendix even traces the evolution of UML versions.

Working developers often don't have time to keep up with new innovations in software engineering. This new edition lets you get acquainted with some of the best thinking about efficient object-oriented software design using UML in a convenient format that will be essential to anyone who designs software professionally. --Richard Dragan

Topics covered: UML basics, analysis and design, outline development (software development process), inception, elaboration, managing risks, construction, transition, use case diagrams, class diagrams, interaction diagrams, collaborations, state diagrams, activity diagrams, physical diagrams, patterns, and refactoring basics.

From the Inside Flap

Two years ago, Addison-Wesley approached me to write a book about the then-new UML. At that time, there was a lot of interest in the UML, but only a standards document from which to learn about it. We broke many records to quickly produce a short introductory guide to the new UML, something that would provide some guidance until the more detailed and official books were to appear later that year.

We didnit expect this book to last after more detailed books appeared. Most people believed that given the choice between a slim overview and a detailed text, everyone would pick the detailed text. Although that was the general view, I believed that even in the presence of detailed books, there was still room for a concise summary.

Two years later, my hopes have been realized more than I could have wished. UML Distilled has been, in computer industry terms, a best-seller. Even though good detailed books have appeared on the UML, the book still sells well. Better than that, more slim books have appeared, confirming my belief that in a world with so much information, there is value in well-chosen brevity.

Now, thatis all very well, but should you buy this book?

Iim going to assume youive heard about the UML. It has become the standard way to draw diagrams of object-oriented designs, and it has also spread into non-OO fields. The major pre-UML methods have all died out. The UML has arrived and is here to stay.

If you want to learn about the UML, this book is one way to do it. The main reason for starting with this book is that itis a small book. Buying a big book will give you more information, but it will also take you longer to read. Iive selected the most important parts of the UML so that you donit have to. With this book, youill pick up the key elements of the notation and what they mean. If you want to move further, you can move to a more detailed book later.

If you want a longer tutorial to the UML, I suggest the Unified

Modeling Language User Guide (Booch, Rumbaugh, and Jacobson 1999). The User Guide is able to cover a lot more ground. Itis well written and organized in a way that explains how to apply the UML to various modeling problems.

Both this book and the User Guide assume that you know something about OO development. Although many people have told me that this book is a good introduction to objects, I didnit write it with that in mind. If youire looking for an introduction to objects with the UML, you should also consider Craig Larmanis book (Larman 1998).

Although the main point of this book is the UML, Iive also added material that complements the UML material. The UML is a relatively small part of what you need to know to succeed with objects, and I think that itis important to point out some of the other things here.

The most important of these is software process. The UML is designed to be independent of process. You can do anything you like; all the UML does is say what your diagrams mean. However, the diagrams donit make much sense without a process to give them context. I also believe that process is important and that a good process doesnit need to be complicated.

So, Iive described a lightweight outline process for OO software development. This provides a context for the techniques and will help to get you going in using objects.

The other topics include patterns, refactoring, self-testing code, design by contract, and CRC cards. None of these are part of the UML, yet they are valuable techniques that I use regularly. Structure of the Book

Chapter 1 looks at what the UML is, the history of its development, and the reasons why you might want to use it.

Chapter 2 discusses the object-oriented development process. Although the UML exists independent of process, I find it hard to discuss modeling techniques without talking about where they fit in with object-oriented development.

Chapters 3 through 6 discuss the three most important techniques in the UML: use cases, class diagrams, and interaction models. The UML is a large beast, but you donit need all of it. These three techniques are the core that almost everyone needs. Start with these and add the others as you need them. (Note that since class diagrams are so complicated in themselves, Iive put the key parts of class diagrams in Chapter 4 and the advanced concepts in Chapter 6. )

Chapters 7 through 10 explore the remaining techniques. All of these are valuable, but not every project needs every technique. So these chapters provide enough information to tell you what the technique is and whether you need it.

For all of these techniques, I describe the notation, explain what the notation means, and provide tips about using the techniques. My philosophy is to make clear what the UML says and, at the same time, to give you my opinions on how best to use it. Iive also added pointers to other books that provide more detail.

Chapter 11 gives a small example to show how the UML fits in with programming using (of course) Java.

The inside covers summarize the UML notation. You may find it useful to refer to these as you are reading the chapters so that you can check on the notation for the various modeling concepts.

If you find this book interesting, you can find other information on my work related to using the UML, patterns, and refactoring at my home page (see page xxi). Changes for the Second Edition

As the UML evolved, and I received feedback about the first edition of the book, I continually updated it. We reprinted every two or three months; nearly every printing contained updates, which resulted in considerable strain on the processes of the publishing industry.

With the change from UML 1.2 to 1.3, we decided to do a more thorough overhaul of the book, enough to produce a second edition. Since the book has been so popular, Iive tried not to change the essential spirit of the book. Iive carefully tried to not add much, and to see whether there are things I can take away.

The biggest changes are in Chapter 3, about use cases, and Chapter 9, about activity diagrams, which have each received a severe rewrite. Iive also added a section on collaborations to Chapter 7. Elsewhere, Iive taken the opportunity to make a host of smaller changes, based on feedback and my experiences over the last couple of years.


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Product Details

  • Series: Addison Wesley Object Technology Series
  • Paperback: 9 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Pub (Sd); 2nd edition (August 25, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 020165783X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201657838
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is probably best served as a quick tour or "best of" UML for someone already versed in OOAD concepts. It introduces each major topic, establishes clear definitions and examples, and incorporates the author's personal experiences. To this end, it is concise and effective.
However, it is not well suited for people trying to get up to speed with both OO and UML concepts, (which is my situation). I found "Fundamentals of Object-Oriented Design in UML" (Page-Jones) as a much more effective introduction OO and UML.
As I become more educated on the topic, I find myself reaching for Distilled more and more. It's great as a quick reference to clear up concepts.
I think this book is a must-have for any UML user, but should not be your first experience with OOAD.
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I was assigned a problem recently in a C++ Advanced course that required me to quickly obtain exposure to the UML. I used Amazon to find this book. On month later I have read four books on the UML and have two more books waiting on my office shelf! I am extremely fascinated by the UML and recommend all software engineers look into its use. I highly recommend Martin Fowler's UML Distilled for engineers who have no previous modeling exposure. It is a fast way to get your feet wet and obtain a high-level overview. After reading this book you might consider the path I forged for myself:
1) UML Distilled by Martin Fowler 2) UML Toolkit by Hans-Erik Eriksson & Magnus Penker (* includes a CD-Rom with Rational Rose 4.0 demo). A great second book! You can also obtain a free UML Modeling tool by TogetherSoft.
3) The Unified Modeling Language User Guide by Booch, RumBaugh and Jacobson. A GREAT book and definite read, however I would not recommend it as your first if you are new to modeling (as I am). I was extremely impressed by Grady Booch's writing skill. He infused me with a love for modeling. (I also intend to read his other books.) As a parent I enjoyed his comments regarding teen age daughters in addition to the fine art of dog house construction.
4) Real-Time UML: Developing Efficient Objects for Embedded Systems by Bruce Powel Douglass. A SUPERB book! I am just finishing it. I was impressed with the author's extensive real-time knowledge and appreciative of his ability to communicate it so clearly to interested readers. I found his dry sense of humor entertaining and intend to look into the Dave Barry reference. I only wish I had time to immediately sit down and read his second real-time book "Doing Hard Time". It is however waiting on my office shelf.
Thanks to all the authors sited. Good luck to you on your discovery of the UML.
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Format: Paperback
This review also appears in comp.object.

I must confess that I didn't know UML at all when I picked up this book. I just had this simple question in mind: What the heck is UML anyway? Now that I have finished reading it, I feel like to give the book a score of 90 out of 100 for the answer it provides.

Numbered in 180 or so pages, the book really is a feather-weight compared with its peers in the same series such as _The Unified Software Development Process_. With wide margins on both sides, texts are printed in bigger fonts than what we normally see in technical books. Adding the neatly drawn diagrams, and we have a book with tremendous visual appeal to a busy professional who, after a day's hard work with the computer, just wants to read something less intimidating and demanding than a reference manual while still catching up with the trend in technology. I am talking about myself here. In this regard, the book suits my need perfectly.

I particularly enjoy the author's sense of humor, notably in the light-hearted presentation of the brief history of UML, which is part of Chapter 1. Chapter 2, titled 'An Outline Development Process', serves as a road map to the chapters that follow. By outlining the development process in four major phases (inception, elaboration, construction and transition), the author not only brings up important components in UML such as 'use cases' and class diagram, but also offers a good deal of sound advices on software engineering based on his own experience, which I find invaluable.

One thing I am not completely satisfied with is the example used in Chapter 3 ('Use Cases'.
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This is, in my opinion, an excellent book. It's short and sweet; it includes enough information to be useful without going off the deep end into territory of interest primarily to academics. This book emphasizes a refreshing, low-ceremony approach to software development. All the major aspects of UML are discussed: Use cases, class diagrams, sequence diagrams, collaboration diagrams, stereotypes, packages and collaborations, state diagrams... I found the concise explanation of the differences between association, aggregation and composition to be especially useful. At the end of the book the author also goes through a simple example using Java to show how to get from modelling to an actual piece of code. If you are a solid intermediate-level developer, this book is an invaluable stepping stone on the path toward mastery of object-oriented design techniques. It would probably be somewhat useful for a beginner, and would probably be rather too trivial for a sophisticated software designer.
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