JDJ: We're here to talk about Object International, TJ3, your classes and the book that that was recently released.
Coad: Object International is focused on helping teams deliver frequent tangible working results around the globe.
JDJ: Tell us about some of the new features of Together/J3 that you'll be releasing soon.
Coad: Together/J is something I've been working on for 10 years. We built earlier versions of this technology in C++, but not until Java have we been able to do all the things we wanted to do to give the developer a creative environment to work in. The field test for T/J3 began June 21, 1999.
JDJ: Can you give us an idea of some of the enhancements from previous versions, some of the new features?
Coad: A hallmark of Together/J is simultaneous round-trip engineering, which is still there. New things in TJ3 include Gang of Four Pattern Support and Java modeling components.
JDJ: Your book's name is Java Modeling in Color with UML: Enterprise Components and Process, which you coauthored with Eric LeFebvre from Montreal, Canada, and Jeff De Luca from Melbourne, Australia. Is any of the material available online?
Coad: A lot of the content is posted at www.oi.com (that's for Object International). I try to put as much content on the Web site as I can without my editor getting mad, so you can read freely and learn a lot about this approach.
JDJ: Why did you write the book? What did you see as an issue?
Coad: I started modeling with a team in Singapore in September 1997. And this team was stuck. They had spent two years with a well-known author and Java design practitioner, but they had real problems. The project manager realized that after two years they had large object models with just data and no methods and they hadn't delivered a single line of source code. My job was to come in and flip this team in a five-week period. I knew I wanted to teach on four categories, four archetypes, and that day on the table there were four colors of Post-it notes. I grabbed the yellow one and said, "This is a role." Took the green one and said "This is a person, place or thing." And so on. We went through four colors and started building a model.
The fascinating thing was after a week or two, we could see, on the wall, a model with a wave of color going from yellow to pink to green to blue. Even though we couldn't read the labels, we could tell things about the shape of the overall model.
During those weeks both newcomers to modeling and business experts came to me again and again and said, "Pete, we understand that you've never modeled in color before, but can you tell us, please, how it's possible that you could build effective models if you didn't have color." Through their eyes I saw the potential importance, in terms of what it would mean in model content, if we could really develop these ideas in practice. That's what we really worked to do.
JDJ: We're going to switch gears again and go back to TJ3. Could you give us some more info?
Coad: We have the white board edition that developers use around the globe. There are no size or time limits in this product. We have other features aimed at corporate developers, such as nine UML 1.3 diagrams supported in the product. Documentation generation is especially important with our corporate clients like Home Depot.
You can actually launch other tools from within TJ3, e.g., you can launch an external editor, work in it and come back. TJ notices the update and auto-updates. In addition, you can invoke a compiler from TJ3 and if the compiler were to turn back error messages, TJ3 captures them; you can then navigate to each point in source code and models to edit your source, make the corrections and then fire off the compiler once again.
JDJ: What do you see as the most innovative, most interesting aspect of Together/J?
Coad: Three things - patterns, components and simultaneous round-trip.
JDJ: What is in the future for Together/J?
Coad: We're keenly interested in what makes sense with EJB. This summer we released Together Enterprise, which has Java and C++ support in it. It also has custom diagraming so if you're interested in real time and you're not happy with UML, you can actually adapt the diagrams and customize them. In addition, if there are more diagrams beyond UML (you could imagine someone actually coming up with more diagrams), you can actually define your own diagrams in Enterprise and have support.
Another thing we did in late summer with the Enterprise product is moving into the data modeling space so we have an ER diagramming tool that for JDBC you can forward-engineer into DDL and then reverse-engineer from the data dictionary.
JDJ: That's great. Now before we close up, do you have any final words of wisdom? Anything to wrap up the world-according-to-Peter-Coad kind of thing?
Coad: What I would ask is that people consider going to oi.com, then go to the JM-book.HTM page and download the first chapter on Java Modeling in Color. The archetypes and color are explained there with examples. There are sequence diagrams that show the interactions. There is a template in there of 12 classes in four colors and if people really understand that one template, they'll have a template of how I've built models over the past 10-plus years. That same template also applies to the 61 examples in the book. That content is at our Web site and it's free. You can download it, get some color Post-it notes and put it to work.
So please try out this color modeling for yourself and see how much more effectively you might be able to work with the experts, and the developers.