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Reconciling the Needs of Architectural Description with Object-Modeling Notations

David Garlan, Andrew Kompanek and Shang-Wen Cheng.

In Science of Computer Programming, Vol. 44:23-49, 2002.

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Complex software systems require expressive notations for representing their software architectures. Two competing paths have emerged. One is to use a specialized notation for architecture - or architecture description language (ADL). The other is to adapt a general-purpose modeling notation, such as UML. The latter has a number of benefits, including familiarity to developers, close mapping to implementations, and commercial tool support. However, it remains an open question as to how best to use object-oriented notations for architectural description, and, indeed, whether they are sufficiently expressive, as currently defined. In this paper we take a systematic look at these questions, examining the space of possible mappings from ADLs into object notations. Specifically, we describe (a) the principle strategies for representing architectural structure in UML; (b) the benefits and limitations of each strategy; and (c) aspects of architectural description that are intrinsically difficult to model in UML using the strategies.

Keywords: Software Architecture, UML.  
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