To UML or Not to UML?

Microsoft plays up its support for the Unified Modeling Language. In his keynote at the Microsoft TechEd Developer conference in Orlando, Fla., Microsoft chairman Bill Gates played up the use of the Unified Modeling Language in support of Microsoft's modeling strategy. However, later in a Q&A session with reporters, Microsoft officials faced a grilling on whether the company had flip-flopped on its plans to support UML.

Indeed, as early as 2003, Microsoft began discussing delivering modeling technology based on UML, but the company at times appeared indifferent, if not hostile, to the overall focus of UML.

However, "we'll have additional support for UML in Visual Studio 10," Gates said.

Indeed, Microsoft has long said it would support UML, but that UML would be but one of several ways the company would deliver on its modeling strategy.

"We see UML as a 'logical level' way of looking at systems; when you dive down to the code layer, we look at DSLs [domain-specific languages]," said Norman Guadagno, director of product marketing for Microsoft's VSTS (Visual Studio Team System). Guadagno said UML support also will be in the next version of VSTS, which is code-named Rosario.

Steve Martin, director of product management for the Microsoft Connected Systems Division, said the company will "take advantage of technologies like UML as well as BPM [business process modeling], BPEL [Business Process Execution Language] or any modeling language."

Richard Soley, CEO of the Object Management Group, the standards body that oversees UML, told eWEEK: "We're delighted that Microsoft has announced support for UML and happy to see use of the standard broadened even more. Developers want ease of use and flexibility--that's why we've always supported multiple modeling approaches, based on a standard metamodeling language--and integration of UML into Microsoft tools will be a win-win for customers."