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“No shit” or “Oh, shit!”: responses to observations on the use of UML in professional practice


This paper follows a paper, “UML in Practice” presented at ICSE 2013. It summarizes and reflects on the discussion and additional investigation that arose from “UML in Practice.” The paper provides a condensed recap of “UML in Practice” findings, explains what data were collected from which sources to inform this paper, and describes how the data were analyzed. It reports on the discussion that has arisen, summarizing responses from industry practitioners, academics teaching software engineering, and the UML community, and considers how those responses reflect on the original observations. The responses to “UML in Practice” divide (crudely) between two perspectives: (1) the observations made are familiar and unsurprizing, and match personal experience (“No shit”); or (2) the observations threaten long-held beliefs about UML use, and in particular about the status of UML as the de facto standard of software engineering, implying a need to change personal practice (“Oh, shit!”).

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Thanks to the professional software developers who shared their experience and examples and also to Jorge Aranda, David Bowers, David Budgen, Andre van der Hoek, Janet van der Linden, Shailey Minocha, Dave Roberts, Kevin Waugh, and Jon Whittle. This research has been supported by a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.

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Correspondence to Marian Petre.

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Communicated by Dr. Bernhard Rumpe.

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Petre, M. “No shit” or “Oh, shit!”: responses to observations on the use of UML in professional practice. Softw Syst Model 13, 1225–1235 (2014).

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  • UML
  • Software development
  • Software design
  • Notation
  • Empirical studies