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UML and SOA the Microsoft way

Microsoft plans support for UML in its planned Oslo platform for model-driven SOA, but is not basing its new tools on that modeling language, explains Burley Kawasaki.

Microsoft's Oslo project for model-driven service-oriented architecture (SOA) will support, but will not be based on the unified modeling language (UML), according to Burley Kawasaki, director of Microsoft's connected systems division.

[UML is] one of the standards Microsoft needs to support, but it's not the only one.
Burley Kawasaki
director of connected systems divisionMicrosoft

While some analysts criticize Microsoft for fuzzy communications where its SOA plans are concerned, Kawasaki was perfectly clear in ruling out a UML basis for Oslo, the code name for development of its Visual Studio 10 wave release.

"It's one of the standards Microsoft needs to support, but it's not the only one," the Microsoft director told SearchSOA when asked about Oslo and UML. "We think of it as one of the important modeling notations, but it's not the only one."

Microsoft plans wide support for a range of modeling tools from its own basic Visio diagramming product to UML, but also including other language requirements such as business process execution language (BPEL) and business process modeling notation (BPMN), he said.

"We have to create a platform that supports people who may chose not to use UML," Kawasaki said.

The idea that Microsoft might be embracing UML and even basing Oslo on it grew out of remarks made by Bill Gates in a question and answer session following a talk last month, which Kawasaki said explained the basic support with few details.

"Bill did briefly comment that Visual Studio as part of the VS 10 Wave will provide UML support," Kawasaki said of the retiring Microsoft founder's remarks. "But he didn't get into much more detail beyond that."

Kawasaki said those remarks were in keeping with the Oslo plan to build support for a broad spectrum of requirements. Oslo is being designed to be a platform for a range of SOA developers including those working with Visio and ranging up to enterprise architects working with UML.

"That's the broad spectrum that exists today," he said. "When we think about the platform, we need to provide support no matter where you are. We view it as how do we meet everyone on the continuum no matter where they are, no matter what their skillset, no matter what they mean when they say modeling."

Within the spectrum, Kawasaki said, Microsoft understands the value of UML to a segment of potential Oslo users.

For more information
Microsoft's SOA vision: 'The model is the application'

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"We see UML as being an important thing," he said. "To a certain segment of the customer base UML is very important. That's a very interesting market for us to support, but it's only a piece of the continuum. We have to think broadly about all the things we need to also be able to support. Things like DSL (domain specific language). So we have to embrace UML and Visio and other technologies."

Even without Oslo, which does not yet have a release date, Kawasaki said Microsoft has customers working with its Independent Software Vendor (ISV) partners that are currently using UML.

"There are customers that use our tools for UML today," he said. "We have ISV partners that plug into Visual Studio today with current technologies that support UML. We are going to provide some more native capabilities through Visual Studio, but it is not a radical departure. It's one of the many things we support."

More details on Oslo will be provided at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference scheduled for October in Los Angeles, Kawasaki said.

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