A Solid UML Overview

Martin Fowler's UML Distilled mixes useful reference with misguided advice.
Reviewed by Conrad Weisert, January, 1999

If you're looking for a quick orientation to the Unified1 Modeling Language, this is it. The thin and readable volume from Martin Fowler summarizes the various components of the complicated methodology/notation that originated in Rational Software2 and is now being blessed as a "standard" by the Object Management Group (OMG).

On the other hand, if you're looking for guidance on doing systems analysis, you certainly won't find it here. I recommend that you skip over the naive and confused chapter 2, which reveals a fuzzy grasp of the purposes and practice of systems analysis, and dig right into the meat of the UML in chapters 3-9.

The publisher presents this book as the first in a collection of four UML volumes. The others, by Booch, Rumbaugh, and Ivar Jacobson (all now with Rational Software) are:

Is the UML a magic key to bringing large projects under control? That's still an open question. Whether you and your colleagues choose to embrace the UML or to reject it, you can't ignore it. Every practicing professional needs to know something about the UML, if only to communicate with the growing segment of the "object-oriented community" who practice it.

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1 "Unified" because it merges earlier competing proposals by Grady Booch and James Rumbaugh

2 Rational Software Corporation, Cupertino, California.