The Object Management Group (OMG)(R) is celebrating the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Unified Modeling Language(TM) (UML(R)) as an official OMG specification. Like all officially adopted OMG specifications, UML is available for free download from the OMG website. UML is also formally published as an ISO/IEC Standard.
Unified Modeling Language: A brief History
Jim Odell, author of five books on analysis and design, and co-chair of OMG’s Analysis and Design Task Force (ADTF), has been involved in the push for the UML standard from the beginning. “By the early 90s, graphical modeling languages were becoming more numerous and sophisticated–partly due to the capability to automate graphical models, the increased acceptance of modeling, as well as the rapid acceptance of object-oriented (OO) systems. By 1995, nearly fifty different OO modeling approaches existed. While this brought new and improved modeling languages, it also resulted in a tower of modeling-language Babel with no interoperability between vendors’ tools.”
In an effort to organize, simplify, and provide a way to enable interoperability of these graphical modeling tools, on June 6, 1996, the OMG established an Object Analysis and Design Task Force (OA&D TF, the precursor to the ADTF), which issued a request for proposal to create what would become UML.
In response, nineteen companies formed six teams, each producing competing proposals. Over the coming months, the teams worked together and consolidated their efforts into a single proposal for a Unified Modeling Language (UML) submission. By unanimous vote on 25 September 1997, the UML submission was recommended for adoption by the OMG’s OA&D Task Force.
Today, UML is used to model structure and behavior of every type of software from enterprise automation to real-time embedded systems. UML is flexible enough to be used for everything from initial concept designs through full code generation. Many vendors provide UML modeling tools. UML continues to evolve and improve–with many software vendors worldwide that provide interoperational UML software models. The latest “UML Simplification” update is version 2.5.
“UML from its inception has been a prime example of our successful standards adoption process, when many different ideas were blended together into a cohesive whole. Even now, hundreds of companies work together to keep UML current and relevant as the industry changes,” said Richard Mark Soley, Ph.D., chairman & CEO, OMG. “Our policy is to only adopt specifications that have real-world implementations–UML has dozens of implementation from commercial products to open source projects, and a flourishing market of products, consultants, books, training and our own UML certification program, the OMG Certified UML Professional (OCUP).”
“Almost twenty years ago, Jim Rumbaugh, Ivar Jacobson, and I began a journey that eventually lead to our collaboration and then the invention of the UML. This was a particularly vibrant time in software engineering, with powerful ideas coming from many other methodologists. In these past fifteen years, I am proud of what we, and the UML community, have accomplished,” commented Grady Booch, IBM Fellow, Chief Scientist for Software Engineering, IBM Research. “Collectively, we have made a material difference in the art and science of engineering complex software-intensive systems and we have created a global industry of tools and services that support this work. I am humbled by the breadth to which the UML has been applied, for I have seen the UML used in every conceivable domain in every corner of the world. And yet, I am still restless: more than ever, software-intensive systems are a part of every element of the human experience, and as such useful, secure, and flexible systems of quality are essential to any conceivable future we might imagine. As such, I am confident that the UML will evolve to help attend to the needs of developing, deploying, operating, and evolving future systems, systems that continue to weave themselves into the fabric of civilization.”
About the OMG
OMG(R) is an international, open membership, not-for-profit computer industry standards consortium. OMG Task Forces develop enterprise integration standards for a wide range of technologies and an even wider range of industries. OMG’s modeling standards enable powerful visual design, execution and maintenance of software and other processes. For more information, visit www.omg.org.