Conference Paper

UML collaboration diagram syntax: An empirical study of comprehension

Dept. of Comput. Sci., Glasgow Univ.
DOI: 10.1109/VISSOF.2002.1019790 Conference: Visualizing Software for Understanding and Analysis, 2002. Proceedings. First International Workshop on
Source: IEEE Xplore


The UML syntactic notation used in texts, papers, documentation and CASE tools is often different, despite UML being considered a software engineering standard. Our initial empirical study considered variations in the notation used for UML class diagrams; the experiment reported concentrates on UML collaboration diagrams. The decision as to which of the semantically equivalent notational variations within the UML standard to use appears to be according to the personal preference of the author or publisher, rather than based on any consideration of the ease with which the notation can be understood by human readers. This paper reports on an experiment that takes a human comprehension perspective on UML collaboration diagrams. Five notations were considered: for each, two semantically equivalent (yet syntactically or stylistically different), variations were chosen from published texts. Our experiment required subjects to indicate whether a supplied pseudo-code specification matched each of a set of experimental UML collaboration diagrams. The results reveal that our informal, personal intuitions (which were based on our view of the complexity of the notation) are validated with respect to confirming that a specification matches a diagram, but not when errors in a diagram are to be identified. The subjects' preferences are in favour of the more concise notational variants.

Download full-text


Available from: Matthew John McGill, Aug 11, 2014
40 Reads
  • Source
    • "The main focus of previous work on UML diagram types and their layout has been with one of four aspects: diagram comprehension (cf. [26], [27], [20], [21] and/or user preference (cf. [18], [29]), automatic layout (cf. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Practical experience suggests that use and understanding of UML diagrams is greatly affected by the quality of their layout. However, existing experimental evidence for this effect is been weak and inconclusive. In this paper, we explore two explanations. Firstly, we observe that the visual qualities of diagrams are more prominent in earlier life cycle phases so that the impact of layout quality should be more apparent in models and diagram types used there, an aspect not studied in previous research. Secondly, in practice, good layouts use many different heuristics simultaneously whereas previous research considered them in isolation only. In this paper, we report the results of a series of controlled experiments using compound layouts on requirements analysis models. With very high significance, we find a notable impact of the layout quality measured by different aspects of cognitive load.
    Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC), 2011 IEEE Symposium on; 01/2011
  • Source
    • "YES NO 383 Order Item [9] NO NO 42 (after fix) Purchase Order [4] YES NO 246 Company Store [1] YES YES 22 Information Exchange [14] YES YES 50 Voting Booth [15] NO NO 59 (after fix) Causality Model [20] YES NO 116 "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Analyzing interactions among peers that interact via messages is a crucial problem due to increasingly dis- tributed nature of current software systems, especially th e ones built using the service oriented computing paradigm. In service oriented computing, interactions among peers participating to a composite service involve message ex- changes across organizational boundaries in a distributed computing environment. In order to build such systems in a reliable manner, it is necessary to develop techniques for analysis and verification of interactions among services. Collaboration diagrams provide a convenient visual model for modeling service interactions. In this paper, we presen t a tool that 1) checks the realizability of interactions spec i- fied by the given collaboration diagram, 2) verifies the LTL properties of the interactions specified by the given collab - oration diagram by automatically converting it to a state machine model, and 3) synthesizes peer state machines that realize the set of interactions specified by the given collab- oration diagram.
    IEEE International Conference on Web Services, ICWS 2009, Los Angeles, CA, USA, 6-10 July 2009; 01/2009
  • Source
    • "Proceedings of the Fifteenth Americas Conference on Information Systems, San Francisco, California August 6 th -9 th 2009 7 The authors believe that Figure 2 is easier to interpret with respect to how the actors are coupled to each other. This is consistent with studies of diagram cognition, in which crossing lines have been found to make diagrams harder to understand, presumably due to increased cognitive load (Purchase, Cohen and James 1997; Purchase, Colypoys, McGill, and Carrington 2002). We predict that optimizing sequence diagrams may help reveal to the designer the structure of a scenario, encouraging more accurate inferences. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Two tools are described that help designers visualize the structure of a system in the requirements phase of a project. First, a matrix is constructed that represents the tendency of components to interact. The matrix is derived from sequence diagrams, which in turn are based on textual scenarios. This interaction matrix is transformed into a structure plot of the system, showing a graph of the essential connections between actors. Second, this same matrix is used to generate a sequence plot: a sequence diagram optimized for problem-solving. We illustrate the effectiveness of this approach, first with a simulation study, and later with a participant-based study of inference from diagrams. The results suggest that a similarity-based approach to information systems design can generate new testable tools. Pragmatically, the tools help novices and experts alike by automatically generating candidate system configurations in the form of structural diagrams, and by generating better sequence diagrams.
    Proceedings of the 15th Americas Conference on Information Systems, AMCIS 2009, San Francisco, California, USA, August 6-9, 2009; 01/2009
Show more