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Over the years, UML has quietly become a trusted modeling notation across a broad ribbon of application development. But its utility for SOA has not been vividly apparent. The SoaML UML extension arose as a means to wed UML and SOA, but its uptake has been narrow.
”There’s a lot of room for raising awareness of SoaML. It’s not as well-known as it should be,” said long-time IBMer Lee Ackerman, now CTO and vice president of products, The Emphasys Group. Tools would help, he suggested.
And, in fact, Ackerman and his Emphasys colleagues have built a pattern-based add-on tool to IBM Rational Software Architect for WebSphere Software. The IBM modeling tool supports SoaML, but Emphasys looks to ease the implementation and improve SOA development outcomes via its Service-Oriented Architecture Design (SOAD) Model Accelerator add-on.
”With the Accelerator, we provide patterns and model restraints and reports that leverage information from [design] models,” said Ackerman, co-author of Patterns-Based Engineering (Addison-Wesley, 2010). Ackerman said the SOAD Model Accelerator helps a team decide what should be modeled and how. Embedded in the tool is knowledge of practical service identification patterns, which would be useful for what can often be a difficult task.
Modeling may always be disliked by some groups of hard-core coders, but UML verges on ‘mainstream’ in a fair number of enterprises. The evolving mix of SOA, UML and SoaML is worth watching.
Is SOA itself mainstream? “If it’s not, it’s on the verge,” says Lee Ackerman. He says there are still newbies coming online to learn UML. Tools such as SOAD Model Accelerator, he suggests, can help experienced and new SOA users alike. But SOA is more than tools.
“SOA is best practices. It is an approach. It is a mindset. Moreover, it is an architecture style. SOA really becomes a problem solver,” said Ackerman.
Is SOA complex? No, says Ackerman, but the problems it is being asked to address in the enterprise these days truly are complex, he said.- Jack Vaughan