IBM Rational Leader Charts UMLs Path

Grady Booch, chief scientist at IBM's Rational division and one of UML's creators, talks about the language's ability to add value-and how Microsoft's changing approach to modeling could impact it.

Grady Booch, an IBM fellow and chief scientist at IBMs Rational division, also is one of the key inventors of the Unified Modeling Language (UML). Booch spoke with eWEEK senior writer Darryl K. Taft to discuss how Microsofts approach to modeling could impact UML, an industry standard for modeling.

Particularly, Booch sought to address Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates comments in eWEEK regarding modeling in a recent interview.

What are your basic thoughts on Microsofts adoption of modeling technology?

Ive been tracking what Bills been saying for some time, with his first announcement about modeling back at a Microsoft financial meeting about a year or so ago.

So, I was actually delighted to see he was coming even more upfront about it—because we, like he, absolutely agree that modeling is becoming more important these days.

/zimages/7/28571.gifClick here to read about Microsofts pledge to support UML in Burton, its new Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System.

And were dealing with systems that are by and large heterogeneous, multiplatform, multilingual, distributed, secure, concurrent and incredibly complex—and our view of the world is that this notion of modeling is directly in the path of that.

What year was it that we did the VSLive thing with Bill? It would have been about two years ago, with the launch of Visual Studio .Net in San Francisco. So, modeling has been on our radar screen for some time. My first reaction to this was … well, somebody said to me, Gosh, this is going to create a schism [because Microsoft is taking a route other than UML].

And my view of the world was, no, Im delighted to see Microsoft recognizing that modeling is an important thing. Because we certainly have done so over the years, and therefore were delighted to see really all the major platform vendors stepping in.

Look at [Sun Microsystems Inc.s James] Gosling and his TopHat project, which is apparently trying to move in the same direction. Gosh, when you have all these players, it certainly indicates theres a sea change.

Now, we have different views of the world; no surprise there. Of course were solidly behind the notion of UML and its open standard. Whereas it appears that Microsoft has somewhat waffled on their position on it, although I think theyre coming these days as sort of clearly doing something other than UML—though youd have to certainly learn that from them.

If you look back on the history of our relationship with Microsoft, they actually were our first partner in the UML consortium. When Jim [Rumbaugh], Ivar [Jacobson] and I [the three fathers of UML] got together to form UML and what became UML, and we had gotten our work reasonably stable, we realized we needed to broaden the audience, so Microsoft was the first group we connected with.

And they actually made material contributions to the UML itself. The whole notion of interface and its semantics and its notations was directly out of the Microsoft work.

/zimages/7/28571.gifRead more here about IBMs work on modeling.

Now, for whatever reason—and youd have to ask them as to why they did this or not—but they were with the UML consortium literally until the day we submitted it, or thereabout the day, we submitted it to the OMG [Object Management Group] for standardization. Microsoft chose not to be a participant in it. But for the longest time, they were involved in the UML effort.

Next Page: Exploring the metamodel of UML.