A model is a representation of something else.
A class diagram is a model that represents a software design.
A model provides a simpler view of a complex entity because a model captures only a selected aspect. This omission of some aspects implies models are abstractions.
A class diagram captures the structure of the software design but not the behavior.
Multiple models of the same entity may be needed to capture it fully.
In addition to a class diagram (or even multiple class diagrams), a number of other diagrams may be needed to capture various interesting aspects of the software.
In software development, models are useful in several ways:
a) To analyze a complex entity related to software development.
Some examples of using models for analysis:
b) To communicate information among stakeholders. Models can be used as a visual aid in discussions and documentation.
Some examples of using models to communicate:
c) As a blueprint for creating software. Models can be used as instructions for building software.
Some examples of using models as blueprints:
The following diagram uses the class diagram notation to show the different types of UML diagrams.
An OO solution is basically a network of objects interacting with each other. Therefore, it is useful to be able to model how the relevant objects are 'networked' together inside a software i.e. how the objects are connected together.
Given below is an illustration of some objects and how they are connected together. Note: the diagram uses an ad-hoc notation.
Note that these object structures within the same software can change over time.
Given below is how the object structure in the previous example could have looked like at a different time.
However, object structures do not change at random; they change based on a set of rules, as was decided by the designer of that software. Those rules that object structures need to follow can be illustrated as a class structure i.e. a structure that exists among the relevant classes.
Here is a class structure (drawn using an ad-hoc notation) that matches the object structures given in the previous two examples. For example, note how this class structure does not allow any connection between
Genre objects and
Author objects, a rule followed by the two object structures above.
UML Object Diagrams are used to model object structures and UML Class Diagrams are used to model class structures of an OO solution.
Here is an object diagram for the above example:
And here is the class diagram for it:
Contents of the panels given below belong to a different chapter; they have been embedded here for convenience and are collapsed by default to avoid content duplication in the printed version.
UML Class Diagrams → Introduction → What
Classes form the basis of class diagrams.
UML Class Diagrams → Classes → What
UML Class Diagrams → Class-Level Members → What
Associations are the main connections among the classes in a class diagram.
OOP Associations → What
UML Class Diagrams → Associations → What
The most basic class diagram is a bunch of classes with some solid lines among them to represent associations, such as this one.
An example class diagram showing associations between classes.
In addition, associations can show additional decorations such as association labels, association roles, multiplicity and navigability to add more information to a class diagram.
UML Class Diagrams → Associations → Labels
UML Class Diagrams → Associations → Roles
OOP Associations → Multiplicity
UML Class Diagrams → Associations → Multiplicity
OOP Associations → Navigability
UML Class Diagrams → Associations → Navigability
Here is the same class diagram shown earlier but with some additional information included:
UML notes can be used to add more info to any UML model.
UML → Notes
A class diagram can also show different types of relationships between classes: inheritance, compositions, aggregations, dependencies.
OOP → Inheritance → What
UML → Class Diagrams → Inheritance → What
OOP → Associations → Composition
UML → Class Diagrams → Composition → What
OOP → Associations → Aggregation
UML → Class Diagrams → Aggregation → What
OOP → Associations → Dependencies
UML → Class Diagrams → Dependencies → What
A class diagram can also show different types of class-like entities:
A class diagram can show association classes too.
OOP → Associations → Association Classes
UML → Class Diagrams → Association Classes → What
UML → Object Diagrams → Introduction
Object diagrams can be used to complement class diagrams. For example, you can use object diagrams to model different object structures that can result from a design represented by a given class diagram.
UML → Object Diagrams → Objects
UML → Object Diagrams → Associations
The analysis process for identifying objects and object classes is recognized as one of the most difficult areas of object-oriented development. --Ian Sommerville, in the book Software Engineering
Class diagrams can also be used to model objects in the (i.e. to model how objects actually interact in the real world, before emulating them in the solution). Class diagrams that are used to model the problem domain are called conceptual class diagrams or OO domain models (OODMs).
The OO domain model of a snakes and ladders game is given below.
Description: The snakes and ladders game is played by two or more players using a board and a die. The board has 100 squares marked 1 to 100. Each player owns one piece. Players take turns to throw the die and advance their piece by the number of squares they earned from the die throw. The board has a number of snakes. If a player’s piece lands on a square with a snake head, the piece is automatically moved to the square containing the snake’s tail. Similarly, a piece can automatically move from a ladder foot to the ladder top. The player whose piece is the first to reach the 100th square wins.
OODMs do not contain solution-specific classes (i.e. classes that are used in the solution domain but do not exist in the problem domain). For example, a class called DatabaseConnection could appear in a class diagram but not usually in an OO domain model because DatabaseConnection is something related to a software solution but not an entity in the problem domain.
OODMs represents the class structure of the problem domain and not their behavior, just like class diagrams. To show behavior, use other diagrams such as sequence diagrams.
OODM notation is similar to class diagram notation but omit methods and navigability.
Software projects often involve workflows. Workflows define the flow in which a process or a set of tasks is executed. Understanding such workflows is important for the success of the software project.
Some examples in which a certain workflow is relevant to software project:
A software that automates the work of an insurance company needs to take into account the workflow of processing an insurance claim.
The algorithm of a piece of code represents the workflow (i.e. the execution flow) of the code.
UML Activity Diagrams → Introduction → What
UML Activity Diagrams → Basic Notation → Linear Paths
UML Activity Diagrams → Basic Notation → Alternate Paths
UML Activity Diagrams → Basic Notation → Parallel Paths
UML Activity Diagrams → Intermediate Notation → Rakes
UML Activity Diagrams → Intermediate Notation → Swim Lanes
Sequence diagrams model the interactions between various entities in a system, in a specific scenario. Modelling such scenarios is useful, for example, to verify the design of the internal interactions is able to provide the expected outcomes.
Some examples where a sequence diagram can be used:
To model how components of a system interact with each other to respond to a user action.
To model how objects inside a component interact with each other to respond to a method call it received from another component.
UML Sequence Diagrams → Introduction
UML Sequence Diagrams → Basic Notation
UML Sequence Diagrams → Loops
UML Sequence Diagrams → Object Creation
UML Sequence Diagrams → Minimal Notation
UML Sequence Diagrams → Object Deletion
UML Sequence Diagrams → Self-Invocation
UML Sequence Diagrams → Alternative Paths
UML Sequence Diagrams → Optional Paths
UML Sequence Diagrams → Calls to Static Methods
You can use models to analyze and design software before you start coding.
Suppose you are planning to implement a simple minesweeper game that has a text based UI and a GUI. Given below is a possible OOP design for the game.
Before jumping into coding, you may want to find out things such as,
To answer these questions, you can analyze how the objects of these classes will interact with each other to produce the behavior you want.
As mentioned in [Design → Modeling → Modeling a Solution → Introduction], this is the Minesweeper design you have come up with so far. Our objective is to analyze, evaluate, and refine that design.
Let us start by modeling a sample interaction between the person playing the game and the
clear x y represent commands typed by the
Player on the
How does the
TextUi object carry out the requests it has received from the player? It would need to interact with other objects of the system. Because the
Logic class is the one that controls the game logic, the
TextUi needs to collaborate with
Logic to fulfill the
newgame request. Let us extend the model to capture that interaction.
W = Width of the minefield;
H = Height of the minefield
The above diagram assumes that
H are the only information
TextUi requires to display the minefield to the
Player. Note that there could be other ways of doing this.
Logic methods you conceptualized in our modeling so far are:
Now, let us look at what other objects and interactions are needed to support the
newGame() operation. It is likely that a new
Minefield object is created when the
newGame() method is called.
Note that the behavior of the
Minefield constructor has been abstracted away. It can be designed at a later stage.
Given below are the interactions between the player and the
TextUi for the whole game.
Note that can be used when discovering/defining the architecture-level APIs.
Defining the architecture-level APIs for a small Tic-Tac-Toe game: