SAN MATEO (03/23/2000) - There are a number of good reasons to consider a component-based modeling tool. You may hope to save long-term costs by putting code in an easily reusable format. Or perhaps you relish the increased communication and reduced development complexity that a component-based approach can offer.
Whatever drives your dreams of object-oriented development, your implementation will serve you far better if you adopt a solution that can muscle development workflow into compliance with industry standard modeling notations such as UML (Unified Modeling Language).
Also desirable is a tool that supports a wide variety of programming languages and offers integration with complementary enterprise applications. Computer Associates International, Inc.'s Paradigm Plus 3.7 Enterprise Edition is a mature modeling product that provides these essential elements for success.
Paradigm Plus competes in a tight race; its rivals include Rational Software's Rose, considered by many to be the market leader in the modeling tool category, and Popkin Software's Systems Architect 2001. Differences between these products are often subtle, with relatively small enhancements debuting with each incremental release. But Paradigm Plus 3.7 Enterprise is packed with integration opportunities and other capabilities that can hasten many aspects of the development cycle.
Paradigm's purpose is to provide a graphical, easy-to-use method of building, assembling, sharing, and reusing components across either a project or organization, accelerating time to market, and mitigating developer turnover issues. Paradigm provides a powerful object repository, ObjectStore from Object Design, which allows users to view and modify all project information including object properties and relationships.
The version of the product that I looked at for this evaluation was a release candidate in the final stages of quality-assurance testing. The installation was uneventful except for one nice surprise: The product gave me the choice of installing it as a stand-alone tool or as a distributed resource for true multitier client/server operation.
Paradigm is limited to the Windows platform, so Unix devotees will likely want to look at other offerings. But system administrators will be happy with its small NT footprint and modest demands for horsepower. It operates with only 32MB of RAM and takes only 200MB of hard-disk space.
After completing the installation, I chose to create a new project and was pleased to find numerous wizards to assist me, including ones for Java, Java 2, and Microsoft's Foundation Classes. Using the first of these, I could quickly build a model from which I generated Java code. Subsequent changes to my code were easily merged back into the model via Paradigm's iterative round-trip engineering. Round-trip engineering provides developers with a common starting point from which to work -- a place in which the code and the model are in sync.
Paradigm offers built-in support for a number of modeling notations and supports a variety of major programming languages, making it an easy fit in any development environment. On the notation side, Paradigm supports UML, Booch, OMT (Object Modeling Technique), and Fusion, as well as many others. Regardless of what your developers are accustomed to using for modeling projects, Paradigm Plus comes ready to support them.
Should you need to use functionality from legacy applications, Paradigm Plus 3.7 offers the capability of reverse-engineering legacy code from other languages into models.
Application integration may be the latest buzzword, but for good reason: An application that can communicate with or leverage the capabilities of another application increases in value precipitously. It's no surprise, then, that CA has been working hard to make Paradigm Plus and others of its business software solutions shake hands.
Paradigm Plus 3.7 Enterprise offers bidirectional integration with BPwin 2.5, CA's business process modeling tool. Processes defined in BPwin can now be imported to and exported from Paradigm Plus as use-case diagrams. This allows project teams to ensure that the business requirements decided upon with customer input have been met during the modeling and design phases -- a huge plus.
Paradigm Plus will also integrate with the Jasmine object-oriented database, and the upcoming Jasmine ii framework. In the latter case, Paradigm users will be able to visualize and quickly understand the object model of any Jasmine ii provider or service. It will also facilitate the design of UML-based class diagrams and allow you to forward-engineer a schema into a new Jasmine ii namespaceAlthough Paradigm Plus provides versioning, object-level locking, and multiuser support via its repository, users can also store their outputs in external change management tools such as CA's CCC/Harvest or any application that makes use of the Microsoft Source Code Control (SCC) API.
CA makes available for additional purchase its ADvisor product, a Web-based information and work management environment. ADvisor will provide a browser-based search and management interface for your component library, allowing developers and managers to more easily identify opportunities for component reuse.
Finally, CA will ship this version of Paradigm Plus with built-in support for its Catalysis methodology, which is based on the UML notation. By including Catalysis, CA provides Paradigm users the ability to extend the UML notation to include specific traits for refinement, interactions, frameworks, and more.
This version of Paradigm Plus leverages XML to generate report output, which nicely improves the quality of its reporting capabilities. Users can now generate reports in either HTML or Microsoft Word format that include both text and graphics drawn from information stored in the project repository.
Paradigm Plus 3.7 Enterprise Edition isn't exactly a quantum leap in the modeling tool market, but it packs in more than the usual cache of minor feature enhancements. If you're a current Paradigm customer and your site is invested in CA solutions, an upgrade to this release will likely prove worthwhile.
Tim Fielden (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior analyst for the InfoWorld Test Center.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BETA
Paradigm Plus 3.7 Enterprise Edition, betaBusiness Case: Corporations that adopt a component-based modeling approach using Paradigm should quickly reap lower development costs and increased productivity, resulting from code reuse.
Technology Case: Paradigm Plus can conform to nearly any development setting, regardless of the preferred notation for object-oriented programming or the programming language. New integration with complementary tools make upgrading worthwhile.
+ Strong integration opportunities
+ Wide variety of supported languages
+ Easy to install and use
+ Generous use of wizards
+ Excellent documentation
- Limited platform support
Cost: $3,995 per user
Platform(s): Windows 95/98/2000 and Windows NT 3.5 or laterShipping: End of MarchComputer Associates International Inc. Islandia, N.Y.; (877) 438-6725; www.ca.com