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UMLint: Identifying Defects in UML Diagrams

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

SE Tools and Techniques

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1558.1 - 22.1558.14



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Paper Authors


Robert W. Hasker University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Rob has taught at University of Wisconsin, Platteville for fifteen years where he has been a key developer of the software engineering program since its inception. He also coordinates an international master's program in computer science. In addition to academic experience, Rob has worked on a number of projects in industry ranging from avionics to cellular billing. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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Mike Rowe University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Mike has taught at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville for nine years and is a professor of Software Engineering and Computer Science. Proir to teaching, he worked for 25 years in industry as a software engineer and program manager mostly in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas in Computer Science, a Ph.D. in Physiological Psychology from the University of North Dakota, and an M.B.A. from Western Michigan University.

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UMLint: Identifying Defects in UML Diagrams We present UMLint, a tool for detecting defects in Unified Modeling Lan-guage (UML) diagrams. This tool is designed to improve object-oriented modelsdeveloped by students. At many institutions, students use professional tools suchas IBM Rational Rose to learn to create models. However, such tools are neces-sarily flexible, supporting a wide range of processes and standards. As a conse-quence, there are few restrictions on the usage of UML elements. This flexibilityis appropriate for industry, but suboptimal for students. It results in little directfeedback helping students to learn standard modeling practices. Instead, studentsmust rely on feedback from instructors and graders. Grading UML diagrams isdetailed work, so the turnaround time can often be measured in weeks. Studentsneed more immediate feedback. Following the tradition of the C programming utility lint, UMLint uses con-sistency checks to identify common errors. It currently checks over 30 issuesranging from missing documentation to reversed generalization relationships andincorrect applications of stereotypes. While these problems are more at the syn-tactic level, they do represent common problems we have identified while teachinghundreds of students over the past decade. The result is a tighter loop: studentscan use the tool to eliminate the simpler problems. Another result is to free theinstructor from checking such details. Students and instructors are then able tospend more effort examining deeper issues. UMLint has been implemented as a web service to allow use by the commu-nity at large. This paper presents the checks made by UMLint, suggests possiblefuture directions, and invites discussion about what standards should be expectedof models created by students.

Hasker, R. W., & Rowe, M. (2011, June), UMLint: Identifying Defects in UML Diagrams Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18929

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