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Usability News – UML is not ready for users, finds seminar “The Usability and UML seminar in Scotland […]

Usability News – UML is not ready for users, finds seminar

“The Usability and UML seminar in Scotland this month concluded that basic UML (User Modelling Language) is seriously restricted, and restricting, in modelling complex, collaborative human activities involving computer-based systems.”


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  1. 1

    I don’t think that UML can be declared to either support usability or not (unless I’m missing something here). UML is used to develop use cases, not screens. That is, it is used to define the tasks that a user is using a system to accomplish. Not the screens, not even the number of screens. Just the tasks. So how is UML guilty of not promoting usability, if the part of the system that one could test for usability isn’t addressed by UML in the first place?

  2. 2

    I took from the article that UML was not yet capable of modeling the complexities of real user behavior — excuse me if I’m wrong. in general I believe rational has been under fire for it’s half-there half-wrong-headed system of dealing with user-centeredness. A stick figure is not a user, a user is not “your users”… specificity and realism make for richer scenarios and more precise and effective design (or have I been spending too much time in the company of cooperistas?)

  3. 3

    Correct: UML is not user-centered design. It is simply a way to clearly state the tasks that a system should facilitate. (And by the way – because it is so task-/application-centric, it really has no place in the building of content-centric websites, unless there are specific workflow-esque tasks – searching, shopping carts, on-line account management, etc. – to be defined. A use case for a content-oriented website would read, most of the time, like this: 1)user opens website 2)user clicks nav area 3) user clicks to desired content area. Not terribly useful.)User personas definitely have a place in the application of UML. It’s necessary to study the users of a system in order to define the tasks a system must accomplish. So, when the requirements for an application are being defined, user personas would be put together prior to the use cases, and would have a huge effect on the use cases.

  4. 4

    Sorry, that was awfully wordy. To sum up: UML does not replace user personae. UML is not user personae. User personae are not UML. They can and should be used together, but one shouldn’t be mistaken for the other.

  5. 5
    UML tutorial

    There’s no reason why you can’t draw the UI and then model it logically in UML. Methods like OVID rely on using UI models and can be pretty formal about modeling interactions and UI logic.

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