UML usage survey

The May 2006 issue of the Communications of the ACM has a survey (subscription or payment required) by Brian Dobing and Jeffrey Parsons on the usage of UML in software development projects. Most participants were contacted through the OMG, the group that defines UML, so the numbers Dobing and Parsons obtained come mostly from hard-core UML users, not from the general software community. Findings:

  • “Only Class Diagrams are being used regularly by over half the respondents, with Sequence and Use Case Diagrams used by about half.” The least used component, in contrast, was the Collaboration Diagram (25% of UML users have never used them).
  • “When asked whether the UML facilitated communication with clients, 55% said it was at best moderately successful” (emphasis mine).
  • Top reasons for not using UML components are (a) that they are not well understood by analysts, and (b) that they don’t add enough value to justify their cost.
  • Years of experience using UML and number of UML components used are positively correlated.
  • Use Case Narratives are used mostly for verifying the requirements with clients; the rest of the components are used for tech people and for maintenance.
  • The people that reported not using UML indicated that the top reason is that there are “too few people familiar” with the language.

Again, these are the numbers from people related to the OMG. It’d be great to see a similar survey from a more representative population.

(via Julio Leite‘s blog. Thanks to Neil Ernst for the tip!)

About Jorge Aranda

I'm currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the SEGAL and CHISEL labs in the Department of Computer Science of the University of Victoria.
This entry was posted in Conceptual Models, Software development, UML. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to UML usage survey

  1. Nonentheless, at least in Toronto, the knowledge of UML is essencial to get a job as a Business Analyst or even Project Manager. I find the Use Case Diagrams, ugly as they are, extremely useful when showing people, not familiar with software development, what can they expect from the system. We hope that ADORA is coming soon to aliviate us from the ugliness and over-complexity of UML diagrams.

  2. Jorge says:

    Having the term “UML” in your resume might be essential to get such positions, but in most cases really knowing UML is not. You’ll rarely, if ever, be challenged on your UML expertise, and most analysts and PMs don’t use it anyway.

    ADORA is nice, isn’t it? I should describe its basics here some time in the near future.

  3. Laura says:

    I agree with Jorge. Having worked as a Business Analyst for several years, I can tell you that UML knowledge was required of the position but we barely used it. At most we created some use case diagrams (and they were not always completed) to complement the use cases we had.

    One of the main reasons for this is that most analysts out in the IT consulting world (at least the companies I’ve worked for) do not even have an IT background.

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