Author Topic: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluation  (Read 7209 times)

cp

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EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluation
« on: June 19, 2007, 02:24:00 pm »
Well, just thought I'd update and centralize my previous evaluations of EA from other topics since after more than a week of treacherous evaluations of CASE tools below the $1000 range, I'm beat but glad to say that I did not choose EA.
The CASE tools i evaluated were: MagicDraw 12.5 prof, EA, Metamill, ModelMaker, Visual UML, Visual Paradigm, UMLStudio, Visio, StarUML, Artiso Visual Case, MicroGold WithClass, and maybe some others. My main perspective was that of a System Architect for C# .NET base without much focus on Requirements Gathering or DB Modeling and more so on code engineering, IDE learning curve and dynamic modeling.  

Some of the main reasons i didn't choose EA are:

- it has really poor UI features  
- it is a burden to organize all those elements in the project browser. There is no Diagrams Window??
- at least the diagram elements should be contained within the diagram node itself, and it is plain messy to organize model elements.
- the undo is only scoped for the diagram editing and extremely limited and unpredictable even in that. There is Redo in the new beta it seems, but i doubt it will be any big step.
- hyperlinks are almost non-existent.
- partial classes are not handled well in code engineering.

On the plus side, it does serve as a great affordable UML tool for requirements analysts and has a bunch of handy features built in such as the DB stuff, baselines, debugger, XMI, etc. which is great for solo or small group of developers whose main interest is class and static diagrams and not as much dynamic modelling. But for system architects, it is not. I was initially impressed by its simplicity, price and huge fan following but it just has an unstable feel to it.  

So which tool did I pick finally? Altova UModel 2007..having used XMLSpy, i'm confident that this UML offering will grow to the same brilliance and popularity as EA even though at this stage it needs some facelift, but its features are amazing and seems quite stable so far..and the price..$129 + $32 maintenance.
Some of the great features of it are:
- a stable IDE just as XMLSpy
- Undo and Redo which include the scope of all activities within the IDE and not just diagram editing
- Big Plus: great code generation features that support enums, partial classes and nested types
- disciplined UML diagramming
- abiltity to easily reference C# code libraries and other projects
- great document generation
- intuitive UI without a bunch of unnecessary stuff
- great hyperlinking abilities and elegant organization and containment of project elements
- fast, slick, lightweight and stable
- XMI
- comprehensive help and samples

The other close contenders in order:
ModelMaker (lots of holes in code engineering), MagicDraw (unmatched functionality and stability but pricing and java are major drawbacks, i'd love to see the design model of this piece of art), Visual Paradigm (offers ability to generate code from state diagrams and lots of features but seems quite unstable and untested), Metamill (great lightweight tool but lacks a whole lot of features)

If anyone has any opinions about UModel 2007, please do share.

Thanks
« Last Edit: June 19, 2007, 05:01:12 pm by cp »

thomaskilian

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2007, 12:21:22 am »
I can't find anything about an automation interface. That definitely would be a no-go for me!

«Midnight»

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2007, 02:31:48 am »
Echo Thomas,

(IMHO) Without a solid API Altova is a very nice toy, but not a tool.

David
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Paolo F Cantoni

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2007, 02:37:52 am »
Also echo Thomas AND raise: Is it Database or purely text file based?  If text file based, I'm not sure it will scale well for large models.

But, as most lurkers know - that DOESN'T mean I'm satisfied with EA.  I use it in spite of itself - as the "best of a bad lot...".

Paolo

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Essnet

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2007, 04:20:37 am »
Feature mandatory: Support to version control...
Altova UModel ignore this feature...  ::)

softwaredeveloper

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2007, 08:04:46 am »
Also tried several tools and the amount of features of EA is quite impressive for me.
Nevertheless, I completely agree to the points of "cp" and switched to UModel for my new projects.
They have less features but all the have are quite impressive and well thought-out  8)!
Especially: UModel is only two years old (AFAIK) and if they enhance it the same way as they did in the past (and they do with XMLSpy) I'm not worried about missing features.
I've made two suggestions to Altova and got them implemented in their next release. Quite impressive and very obliging!
Nevertheless - EA has several features UModel doesn't have.
E.g. I solve version control outside of any UML tool in CVS and I must admit to have no need for automation (just for my future in my company: why is this a must for you ?)

At least everybody must for himself decide what's the best for his needs  ;D

thomaskilian

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2007, 10:57:40 am »
Quote
(just for my future in my company: why is this a must for you ?)

Simply if you need to manage more than a handful of elements you're forced to do quite something with automation. Also I create my documentation with the automation which gives me endless flexibility.

cp

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2007, 12:45:01 pm »
yep, it is all about what you want out of the tool. I was really impressed with EA because it had all these features, but then once I started working on it, it just didn't help in "my" methodology. I want something that focuses mainly on UML for architecture and code generation. As a part of my methodology, I use the SQL Server Diagramming for Database/ER modelling and don't need to create entity classes and stuff because i use Visual Studio and .Net data objects. And I don't have much use for Automation Interface, Add-ins or Version Control in the tool itself. For all the requirements and Business Rules, I've built a custom Access DB which allows me great flexibility to organize and navigate, for unit testing and documentation I use other tools such as SandCastle and NUnit. So i just needed a pretty sturdy UML tool, and I hit the final straw with EA when i was trying to draw an Activity Diagram and the partitions were acting crazy and i couldn't even edit the text directly inside an activity, and when i assigned a State diagram to a class, it put it inside the class with all the contained elements at the samel level as the class members..these things were not making any sense. I think EA should focus on refining and organising the IDE first and foremost.
I disagree that UModel is a fancy toy ;D adding to what softwaredeveloper said, it is simply very efficient and stable for whatever set of features it offers plus it has this useful feature of converting sequence to communication and vice versa. With a user base of 2.5 million, i'm sure Altova is willing and able to add all kinds of bells n' whistles into it..heck Altova needs to pay me for this..
« Last Edit: June 20, 2007, 01:06:35 pm by cp »

thomaskilian

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2007, 08:52:57 pm »
Quote
..heck Altova needs to pay me for this..

btw: do they offer a forum where someone could write such posts - praise e.g. EA over their tool?

cp

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2007, 09:06:07 pm »
 ;D well, yes they do, i just thought i'll try to get some people to tell me why EA is better before i make the switch, through some constructive criticism, and i've used MagicDraw for a couple of years until i hit a block, and don't want to switch CASE tools again after this..i get nightmares about it.

Paolo F Cantoni

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2007, 11:40:32 pm »
Quote
I've used MagicDraw for a couple of years until i hit a block
What was the block?  I, also, was impressed with "the Lithuanian tool", but ended up choosing EA (before I found the Unique Interface).  I'd be interested in what you found.

TIA,
Paolo
« Last Edit: June 21, 2007, 01:24:43 pm by PaoloFCantoni »
Inconsistently correct systems DON'T EXIST!
... Therefore, aim for consistency; in the expectation of achieving correctness....
-Semantica-
Helsinki Principle Rules!

cp

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2007, 11:35:52 am »
Hi Paolo, i guess the major block was pricing ;) i was using the personal edition which is quite affordable at $150 but the prof version which has code engineering is some $900 and the software maintenance is 25% or so which is not acceptable for my company. I was just beginning UML modelling then, a couple of years ago, and did not give importance to code engineering...a big mistake. Other than that, a major drawback was the inability to Override/Implement members in child classes (in the Personal Edition)..i don't know why they skipped such an important feature, and as i've mentioned before, the speed and memory..i am not a big fan of Java anymore for IDEs. But if you can ignore or accept these, i think that it might very well be the best tool out there..and i'm feeling the same solidity in UModel.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2007, 11:40:40 am by cp »

softwaredeveloper

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2007, 09:34:37 am »
Thanks boys for your answers!

Quote
@thomaskilian: ...Also I create my documentation with the automation which gives me endless flexibility.

I did not look into the API possibilities to customize the documentation generation till yet. Can you give me an example what and how you modify the documentation output ?

Quote
@paolo: Is it Database or purely text file based?  If text file based, I'm not sure it will scale well for large models.

Didn't compare the tools but isn't the runtime performance (memory & speed) more important than the file access ?

thomaskilian

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2007, 09:43:47 am »
I'm kind of a dinosaur here. I create a LaTeX file with the automation. This is like traversing the packages and (programming can do almost anything) gather the info which is required. The output is a plain ascii file which then is formatted by LaTeX into very professional looking output.

In advance to Paolos answer: Database is not only much more speedy. It allows also flexible multi-user access to the database. As long as you're a lonely modeller it won't hurt, but once you start working in a team, a repository is a must.

softwaredeveloper

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Re: EA vs Altova UModel + other CASE tools evaluat
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2007, 10:09:58 am »
Hi Thomas !

Thank you for the fast answer!
Your way of "using the API for customizing documentation" sounds not very comfortable  :)
I suggest to either try to get more customization possibilities or (possibly a faster solution) simply use the XMI file for documentation !?

Although also not knowing Palos answer: I'm not the "lonely guy" :-) and maybe this sounds also a bit hermetic but as long as I cannot show two diagrams side by side and also cannot move elements between them on my own machine, I don't really care about the guys next door  ;D