Tips for Effective UML Diagrams

UML describes a collection of UML diagrams used to model software development. These diagrams are used to help design and analyze software as well as guide development and team priorities.

1) The level of abstraction in your diagrams should meet the needs and interest of your audience. High-level management might only be interested in the big picture while developers need as much detail as possible.

2) Avoid long names and paragraphs of description.

Avoid too much copy

3) Avoid crossing lines by arranging all the elements of a diagram on the page before drawing in the relationship lines. If two lines must cross, use a "bridge" (also known as a "line hop") to show that the lines do not intersect.

Line hops

4) Use notes or color to draw attention to important features.

5) UML 2 introduced a new optional element to drawing UML diagrams. Including this helps create a nice visual boundary for your diagram and allows you to clearly label the diagram in what's called a "namebox", a rectangle with a slanted lower right corner.

6) Address primary structure and behavior first and model complexities and detail in a separate diagram. SmartDraw allows you to link multiple diagrams, so the viewer can drill down into your diagram for more detail. To link an object in your chart to another diagram, select the object and choose Hyperlink from the Insert tab. A small plus sign will appear in the object, and clicking on it opens the linked file or web page.

7) SmartDraw makes it easy to share your UML diagram with others in a business presentation or on the web. You can export your diagram into any common image format or as a PDF. You can also export your diagram into any Office® document in a single click. When you paste your diagram into another program (such as PowerPoint®), you can edit it by simply double-clicking on the diagram in the other program. This opens the diagram in SmartDraw for editing, and your changes will be updated in the other program automatically.

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