Flash, UML & gModeler Review
I started looking for different UML tools today to use for my next project. I wanted something free. I remember seeing a couple done in Flash in the past, so I figured I’d try those out. I came across three of them:
- gModeler – Done by Grant Skinner and his team in Flash. Free to use.
- gliffy – Done in Flash. Does many other diagrams besides UML. Looks slick. But it’s only free to try (3 free diagrams).
- Saffron – Done by Samuel Agesilas in Flash/Apollo. Looks very nice, but it’s not out yet. I can’t wait to try it. If you read this Samuel, I would love to be on the private alpha!
So, I decided I would go with gModeler to see how it panned out. Here’s my review:
- It’s free.
- It’s very easy to figure out. Without any documentation, I was up and running in about 5 minutes.
- It has most of the features I was looking for. I could create class objects, add properties, methods, and events. It has an “inspector” that allows for further details of the class such as method parameters and documentation. It was easy to link compositions, aggregations, dependencies, inheritance, etc.
- It allows you to save your document online, or export/import the corresponding XML to and from your local machine (not directly, of course, since Flash doesn’t support direct saving of files, but it gives the XML which can be pasted into a text editor and saved locally).
- You can zoom in and out.
- The project was created in 2003. I think it may have been abandoned.
- No undo command. This is by far my largest complaint; it really slows down overall productivity.
- Tab focus is sometimes awkward. For example, when I was in the “inspector” adding parameters, I had the parameter name in focus and I wanted to specify the parameter type, so I pressed Tab. Although it applies a highlight to the Type field, it does the same to the “Short Description” field as well. I started typing, and it replaced my short description text. I tried to undo, but no such functionality.
- It has a really slick code documentation feature, but it’s not up to date. It didn’t use ASDoc tags, such as @param.
- The Inspector is something that I would access very often. It’s annoying that it takes two clicks to get to it. There should be a toolbar icon that gives direct access.
- There were a few keyboard shortcuts that I discovered by randomly pressing keys, but I didn’t notice any documentation for what they are. Toolbar hints that list the shortcut would be very handy. It would also be nice if they were more consistent with the Flash IDE; for example, the arrow tool should be “v” instead of “1″.
- You could not copy things by pressing [CTRL]+[C].
It seems like it wouldn’t take that much to make this tool a great free tool that I would actively use. But, the current weaknesses are too great for me to consider using it for the long run. So, unless Grant and his team happen to make some updates, I’ll keep searching for a new, free, UML tool. Any suggestions?
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