Is there a development team out there who has never heard the following phrases when delivering a project? "That's not what we wanted..." or "We thought it would also do this..." Then even when we are on target, we're all too often hit with requirements that were simply not communicated and end up failing to meet our client's expectations.
This is a new type of tool specifically created to enable developers to accurately define and design complex Web-based software applications from a business/functional perspective.
The idea here is that we build a model of the application before we go to code and keep all the requirements and modeling within the bounds of one integrated design tool.
Installing and Using Adalon 2.2
Adalon is available for purchase from the Synthis Web site or from a local partner. A demo copy is also available from the site following a simple registration form; activation keys are simply e-mailed to you.
Installation was painless and the application ran easily on an old laptop with limited resources (see Figure 1).
Using Adalon is also relatively simple. Using the drag-and-drop interface you can put together a diagram of the application, and you can use several diagrams for complex applications.
The diagrams are backed up with forms that gather further information and flesh out the details of the application (see Figure 2).
Adalon generates a board range of design deliverables, including standard functional and technical design documentation, an HTML-based click-through model of the application, and the framework components for the application.
The output components are determined by the "skin" you choose. Using the Struts skin, the major elements of the application structure were autogenerated at three levels:
1. At the framework level, where all Adalon design elements and generated files map closely to standard Struts framework elements
2. At a slightly higher level of abstraction, by using some common, open-source Struts extension packages to generate everything needed to build, deploy, and test the Struts application
3. At the enterprise level, by using a light processing model and the XDoclet Javadoc doclet engine to create application server-specific EJBs
Adalon doesn't try to generate your complete application. Instead, it generates an accurate translation of the business functional designs into a high-level code framework that supports a team's particular architecture. Generated code artifacts include Struts configuration files, base Struts classes, and JSP templates.
Adalon is available for developers who are using a number of platforms and methodologies. In the Java arena, the Apache/Jakarta Struts framework is fully supported and the terminology of Struts development is built into the application in the form of an optional GUI skin. The Fusebox framework, used by Web developers working in JSP, CFML, and PHP, is also supported as standard within the product.
If you use a customized version of Struts or Fusebox, another third-party Web architecture, or an internal proprietary standard, Adalon's code and documentation generation capabilities can be easily customized to transform Adalon's XML-based output into whatever format you need.
Synthis has come up with a nice tool. It's easy to come to grips with it, which is more than can be said of some other application modeling tools.
Its not all plain sailing. Adalon has a learning curve and like all new things, it requires effort to get into the habit of using it and encouraging others to follow suit. The only gripe we could come up with is that the tool is not structured for multiusers; a team version with a source control of models would be nice.
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Note: Since this product review was written, a new version, Adalon 2.5, has been released.
430 Tenth Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: 1 866-SYNTHIS
Processor: Intel PIII/AMD K6 550MHz
OS: Windows 2000 Pro
Processor: 800MHz Intel PIII
Target Audience: Business analysts, Web developers, and Java developers
Level: Beginner to advanced
Pros: Easy to use
Creates documentation as part of the modeling process
Multiple output formats
Can be customized using XSL
Cons: Nothing significant
Carl Burn -