Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Kevin Jackson, William Schmarzo, David Sprott, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Microsoft Cloud

Microsoft Cloud: Article

The UML Class Diagram

The UML Class Diagram

The class diagram is an excellent aid to model the attributes, operations, and associations of the classes in your applications. This article, the second in a series of articles that introduce the reader to the concepts of object-oriented design and the Unified Modeling Language, focuses on UML class diagrams. It reviews UML class diagramming notation and the use of Visio to construct a class diagram.

The Need for Modeling Classes
Class structures are fundamental to any object-oriented programming language. The class structure is a template for the objects that will implement the functionality of your applications. As a .NET developer, you need to become increasingly familiar with the classes available in the .NET Framework. As you gain experience developing .NET applications you will discover the need to develop your own class libraries. Good design of object-oriented applications dictates a clear separation of functionality between the user interface, business logic, and data access logic. Well-designed applications achieve this separation of functionality through the development of class libraries that encapsulate internal processing. By developing class libraries, your applications become more manageable, scalable, and extendable.

An all-too-common problem in many object-oriented applications is a lack of preplanning. Class libraries evolve haphazardly. As a result, the distinction of roles and responsibilities among the various classes in the library becomes muddled and convoluted. These class libraries are difficult to manage, revise, and employ. This is especially problematic when large teams of developers build an application. Employing a tool to model your class libraries is imperative to ensure that the application remains consistent, manageable, and clearly defined. A UML class diagram is an excellent tool for modeling the structure of your class libraries.

Modeling Class Structure Using UML
In a UML class diagram, a rectangle divided into three parts represents the class. The top section contains the name of the class, the middle section contains the attributes of the class, and the lower section contains the operations performed by the class. Operations may take the form of methods, constructors, destructors, properties, or events. Figure 1 illustrates a UML class diagram representing a loan class. This class is part of a library loan application that tracks loan, member, and inventory information for a small library.

Examining the class diagram reveals that along with the name of the attribute, it defines the attribute's accessibility. A minus sign (-) in front of the attribute name indicates it is private. A plus sign (+) indicates it is public, and a pound sign (#) indicates it is protected. A private element is only accessible from within the class. A public element is accessible from any code in the same project or any project with a reference to the project containing the class. A protected element is accessible from within the class and any class derived from the class.

Although the UML specifications do not define specific data types, when developing classes for use in .NET assemblies you can strongly type the attributes using the supported types of your implementation language. Visio allows the choice of either VB, C#, C++, or IDL supported data types. Data types can also be complex data types defined by your class library or the .NET class library. For example, a catalog class may have an item attribute that is of type System.Data.DataRow. Another possible scenario would be to create a catalog class as a collection class whose item attribute is an Item class type.

The lower section of the UML class shape defines the operations of the class. Typically, the class diagram will define the name of the operation, its accessibility, any parameters passed in to the operation, and any return value passed back when the operation executes. The loan class represented in Figure 1 contains two constructors (Sub New), a function (CalculateDueDate), an event procedure (OverDueNotice), and a property (LoanID). Unfortunately, the UML specifications do not define a way to identify the various operation types in the diagram. You can, however, add your own notation to indicate the various types depending on the modeling tool you use. Figure 2 shows the loan class shape with custom stereotypes added to identify the various operations defined in the diagram.

Modeling Class Associations
When a class refers to or uses another class, the classes form an association. For example, in the library loan application we have identified the need to construct a Loan class and a Book class. The responsibility of the Loan class is to maintain information about a book out on loan. This includes the member who has the book, the book, and the due date. The responsibility of the Book class is to maintain relevant information about the book. This includes ISBN, title, author, and publisher. Since the Loan class maintains a reference to the Book class, the book class is a collaborator of the Loan class. A line connecting the two classes represents this association in the class diagram. The association line often includes a label to describe the association.

Association lines can also indicate the direction of the association. In the previous case, the Loan class maintains a reference to the Book class, but the book class does not maintain a reference to the Loan class. To depict a one-way association, you add an arrow to the association line. The class diagram shown in Figure 3 documents the association between the loan class and the book class.

Sometimes a single instance of one class associates with multiple instances of another class. For example, a member may have multiple books out on loan. In this case, a single instance of a member class is associated with multiple instances of the Loan class. Multiplicity is included in the class diagram by placing the appropriate symbol on the association line. The class diagram in Figure 4 indicates that an instance of the Member class may be associated with multiple instances of the Loan class.

Using Visio to Construct a Class Diagram
Now that you're familiar with some of the notations used to construct a class diagram, you are ready to investigate the use of Visio to create class diagrams. If you do not have Visio installed, you can still benefit from following along and completing the diagram with paper and pencil.
1.   Start up Visio. From the File menu choose New -> Software -> UML Model Diagram.
2.   Locate the Shapes window along the left side of the screen. This window includes a tab for the common UML diagrams. Select the UML Static Structure tab (see Figure 5).
3.   From the Shapes window click and drag the Class shape onto the design surface. Right-click the Class shape on the design surface and choose Properties. A UML Class Properties window becomes visible (see Figure 6). Change the name to "Book" and add the description "Responsible for maintaining book information" in the Documentation text box.
4.   Select Attributes on the Categories list box in the left side of the window. Click on the New button on the right side of the window to add a new attribute to the class. Click on the Properties button to display the UML Attribute Properties window. Change the name of the attribute to "mISBN". Change the type to "VB::Char" and verify that the visibility is "private". Click the OK button to return to the UML Class Properties window.
5.   Select Operations in the Categories list box on the left side of the window. Click on the New button on the right side of the window to add a new operation to the class. Click on the Properties button to display the UML Operation Properties window. Change the name of the operation to "ISBN". Change the return type to "VB::Char" and verify that the visibility is "public". Select "Code Generation Options" in the Categories list box on the left side of the window. Change the operation kind to "Property" and check the "Create Get Method" and "Create Set Method" check boxes to indicate it is a readable/writable property. Click the OK button to return to the UML Class Properties window.
6.   Select Operations in the Categories list box on the left side of the window. Click on the New button on the left side of the window to add a new operation to the class. Click on the Properties button to display the UML Operation Properties window. Change the name of the operation to "CheckAvailability". Change the return type to "VB::Boolean" and verify that the visibility is "public". Select "Parameters" in the Categories list box on the left side of the window. Click on the New button on the right side of the window to add a new parameter to the operation. Click on the Properties button to display the UML Parameter Properties window. Change the name of the parameter to "ReservationDate" and the type to "VB::Date". Click the OK button to return to the UML Operation Properties window. Click the OK button to return to the UML Class Properties window. Click OK to close the UML Class Properties window. The Book class diagram should look similar to the one shown in Figure 7.
7.   In order to demonstrate the creation of class associations, add a Member class and a Loan class to the class diagram. If you want some practice, add some attributes and operations to these classes.
8.   From the Shapes window, click and drag the Binary Association shape onto the design surface. Attach end 1 of the Binary Association to the Member class and end 2 to the Loan class. The Binary Association line will turn red if it is not attached properly. Right-click the Binary Association shape on the design surface and choose Properties. The UML Association Properties window will display. Change the name of the association to "Takes Out". Change the Name Reading Direction to "forward". Change End 1's multiplicity to 1 and check the IsNavigable check box. When you are finished, click OK to close the window.
9.   Right-click the "Takes Out" Binary Association shape on the design surface and choose Shape Display Options. The UML Shape Display Options window displays. Under the General section, click the Name check box. Under the Suppress section, click on the First end and Second end check boxes. When finished, click OK.
10.   Figure 8 shows the completed diagram, including an association between the Loan class and the Book class. For additional practice, add this association to your diagram.

Conclusion
This article has introduced you to using the Unified Modeling Language to model the class structure of your application. The class diagram is a great aid for modeling the attributes and operations of the classes that make up your application. The class diagram also shows how the various classes in your application associate with each other. A CASE tool such as Visio, although not necessary, is beneficial in the creation of the class diagram.

A future article will continue the study of UML and class associations, focusing on modeling class inheritance hierarchies. In addition, you will be introduced to modeling interfaces, meta classes, and utility classes, which are all commonly used in class library applications. Finally, you will experience using Visio to generate a Visual Studio .NET class library from the UML model.

More Stories By Dan Clark

Dan is a Microsoft Certified Trainer, Microsoft Certified Solution Developer, and a Microsoft Certified Database Administrator. For the past seven years he has been developing applications and training others how to develop applications using Microsoft technologies. Dan has been developing and training Microsoft's .NET technologies since the early betas. He has recently authored the book "An Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming with Visual Basic .NET," published by Apress.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet a...
On Dice.com, the number of job postings asking for skill in Amazon Web Services increased 76 percent between June 2015 and June 2016. Salesforce.com saw its own skill mentions increase 37 percent, while DevOps and Cloud rose 35 percent and 28 percent, respectively. Even as they expand their presence in the cloud, companies are also looking for tech professionals who can manage projects, crunch data, and figure out how to make systems run more autonomously. Mentions of ‘data science’ as a skill ...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Robert Cohen, an economist and senior fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute, will provide economic scenarios that describe how the rapid adoption of software-defined everything including cloud services, SDDC and open networking will change GDP, industry growth, productivity and jobs. This session will also include a drill down for several industries such as finance, social media, cloud service providers and pharmaceuticals.
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA) has announced that NoviFlow Inc.has deployed IxNetwork® to validate the company’s designs and accelerate the delivery of its proven, reliable products. Based in Montréal, NoviFlow Inc. supports network carriers, hyperscale data center operators, and enterprises seeking greater network control and flexibility, network scalability, and the capacity to handle extremely large numbers of flows, while maintaining maximum network performance. To meet these requirements, NoviFlow in...
Choosing the right cloud for your workloads is a balancing act that can cost your organization time, money and aggravation - unless you get it right the first time. Economics, speed, performance, accessibility, administrative needs and security all play a vital role in dictating your approach to the cloud. Without knowing the right questions to ask, you could wind up paying for capacity you'll never need or underestimating the resources required to run your applications.
Security, data privacy, reliability and regulatory compliance are critical factors when evaluating whether to move business applications from in-house client hosted environments to a cloud platform. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Vandana Viswanathan, Associate Director at Cognizant, In this session, will provide an orientation to the five stages required to implement a cloud hosted solution validation strategy.
ReadyTalk has expanded the capabilities of the FoxDen collaboration platform announced late last year to include FoxDen Connect, an in-room video collaboration experience that launches with a single touch. With FoxDen Connect, users can now not only engage in HD video conferencing between iOS and Android mobile devices or Chrome browsers, but also set up in-person meeting rooms for video interactions. A host’s mobile device automatically recognizes the presence of a meeting room via beacon tech...
Ovum, a leading technology analyst firm, has published an in-depth report, Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting a DevOps Release Management Solution, 2016–17. The report focuses on the automation aspects of DevOps, Release Management and compares solutions from the leading vendors.
Continuous testing helps bridge the gap between developing quickly and maintaining high quality products. But to implement continuous testing, CTOs must take a strategic approach to building a testing infrastructure and toolset that empowers their team to move fast. Download our guide to laying the groundwork for a scalable continuous testing strategy.
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
Deploying applications in hybrid cloud environments is hard work. Your team spends most of the time maintaining your infrastructure, configuring dev/test and production environments, and deploying applications across environments – which can be both time consuming and error prone. But what if you could automate provisioning and deployment to deliver error free environments faster? What could you do with your free time?
Up until last year, enterprises that were looking into cloud services usually undertook a long-term pilot with one of the large cloud providers, running test and dev workloads in the cloud. With cloud’s transition to mainstream adoption in 2015, and with enterprises migrating more and more workloads into the cloud and in between public and private environments, the single-provider approach must be revisited. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Yoav Mor, multi-cloud solution evangelist at Cloudy...
Extreme Computing is the ability to leverage highly performant infrastructure and software to accelerate Big Data, machine learning, HPC, and Enterprise applications. High IOPS Storage, low-latency networks, in-memory databases, GPUs and other parallel accelerators are being used to achieve faster results and help businesses make better decisions. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at NVIDIA, focused on some of the unique ways extreme computing is...
UpGuard has become a member of the Center for Internet Security (CIS), and will continue to help businesses expand visibility into their cyber risk by providing hardening benchmarks to all customers. By incorporating these benchmarks, UpGuard's CSTAR solution builds on its lead in providing the most complete assessment of both internal and external cyber risk. CIS benchmarks are a widely accepted set of hardening guidelines that have been publicly available for years. Numerous solutions exist t...
Qosmos has announced new milestones in the detection of encrypted traffic and in protocol signature coverage. Qosmos latest software can accurately classify traffic encrypted with SSL/TLS (e.g., Google, Facebook, WhatsApp), P2P traffic (e.g., BitTorrent, MuTorrent, Vuze), and Skype, while preserving the privacy of communication content. These new classification techniques mean that traffic optimization, policy enforcement, and user experience are largely unaffected by encryption. In respect wit...
To leverage Continuous Delivery, enterprises must consider impacts that span functional silos, as well as applications that touch older, slower moving components. Managing the many dependencies can cause slowdowns. See how to achieve continuous delivery in the enterprise.