Microsoft signs onto Unified Modeling Language for SOA

Microsoft signs onto Unified Modeling Language for SOA

Summary: Microsoft turns to UML to ensure Oslo mass appeal


Back at the end of 2007, the hot topic among panelists at the SOA BriefingsDirect podcast panel hosted by Dana Gardner was Microsoft Oriented Architecture. Why, oh why, wouldn't Microsoft get with the program and join other vendors in supporting a common approach to modeling in SOA?

Will wonders never cease?

Forrester's Jim Kobelius, for one, was perplexed and dismayed by Microsoft's apparent standardless approach to model-driven architecture at the time, noting the lack of a footprint for “the actual standards that have been developed like OMG’s Unified Modeling Language (UML)... Microsoft, for some reason I still haven’t been able to divine, is also steering clear of UML in terms of their repositories."

Well, Bill Gates and Company must have listened to the podcast, because along with delivering his fond farewell address at last week's TechEd confab in Orlando, Gates also revealed that Microsoft's upcoming Oslo SOA-enabling product lines would support UML.

In surfacing news of this latest development, Michael Meehan points out that support for an accepted industry standard such as UML is big news coming out of a vendor that always insists on doing things its own way. But the vision for SOA is that everyone agrees to common approaches, standards, and protocols. Plus, Microsoft's more proprietary approach, Domain Specific Languages (DSLs), have yet to gain traction, Michael observes. As he so aptly put it: "Apparently the company has decided to end its religious differences with UML for the sake of giving Oslo mass appeal."

Graphical, abstracted service modeling is seen as key to bringing SOA projects closer to the business, since such tools can help businesspeople better visualize what the SOA will look like, and what it will connect. Embracing UML may help propel Oslo-based products into mainstream SOA efforts, since other environments (Rational, Eclipse), employ UML.

Michael's TechTarget colleague Jack Vaughn also provides details on Gates' announcement pertaining to UML in Oslo.

ZDNet colleague Mary Jo Foley also describes Microsoft's plans for Oslo in a recent post, noting how features and releases will be rolled out in stages.

Michael holds forth the possibility that Microsoft may either give Service Component Architecture a run for its money, or even (gasp) play in the same space. Will wonders never cease?

UML gives Oslo a reach it never would have had if it were based on a proprietary modeling language. The UML foundation means Oslo stands a chance of being truly universal, which is as SOA a concept as you can get. It also puts pressure on the vendors backing Service Component Architecture. Has Microsoft managed to leapfrog them in terms of offering a general purpose SOA modeling platform? Or perhaps could this lead to Microsoft embracing SCA at some level, perhaps via Apache Tuscany?

Topics: Enterprise Software, Browser, Microsoft, Software, Software Development

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  • UML = Unlimited Money Loss.

    Lots of pretty pictures. Lots of pretty diagrams. One very
    very complex, convoluted, bloated language that has very
    little to do with the act of actually writing any software.

    Of the 4 major projects I have worked on that used UML, the
    best description for it so far is Unlimited Money Loss.
    • Yep

      Going to have to agree here. Does anyone actually use it for real software development? Other than maybe IBM? :)

      • UML for real software development

        Indeed, not many people use UML for real software development, but it is possible to do so. Check ouy my blog:

        for lots of examples from real-world modeling.

        One subtle point: UML is for modeling; UML models need not always be used for software development!
    • Software development and UML

      The world has been developing software for ages without UML. Zillions of lines of COBOL code have been written without any diagrams. But things were very monolithic then.

      With the advent of n-tier architectures things became fragments. Sure, systems were (and are) built with zero documentation and sure they work. But maintaining them for the next 20 years is the problem. Some modicum of system documentation is required, so it can be handed over from generation to generation of programmers who have the horrible job of maintaining a system that was written ten years back!

      If document you must, well, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Can we have a diagrammatic notation pls?

      This is the thought processes that all banks, insurance companies, retail behemoths, manufacturing powerhouses, all of them use now. Hence, UML diagrams are being created.

      Are they any good? Afraid not. The problem is not with UML. Trouble is, modeling is a skill that is hard to come by. See my blog:

      for sample UML diagrams that model insurance policy administration, health insurance channels, commodity futures trading, and world oil demand.