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Apr 5, 2011 | #GSoC #KDE #planet-fosswomen #planetkde-camila #Umbrello #gsoc #kde #linkedin #umbrello

Building a sexy Umbrello

I'm a big fan of Umbrello. It's a Free Software graphical UML (Unified  Modeling Language) editor, one of the very few of it's kind. Most UML tools are proprietary tools written in Java and Umbrello is written in C++/Qt and build on the powerful base of KDE  software. I realized how interesting Umbrello is when I noticed that the  most of my professors suggest proprietary tools or a generic diagramming program with few UML features to study UML at college class. Many companies use UML to help them quickly write applications and Umbrello is (as far as I know) the only Free Software tool which can do the code generation required for that!

Why UML is important?

"Modeling is the designing of software applications before coding. Modeling is an Essential Part of large software projects, and helpful to medium and even small projects as well. (...) Using a model, those responsible for a software development project's success can assure themselves that business functionality is complete and correct, end-user needs are met, and program design supports requirements for scalability(...)"

Of course, It is not only my college that uses UML, there are a lot of company wich use UML tools in their development process, including  companies where I have worked and you can find some more examples here.


So having a Free Software UML editor is pretty important! And the Umbrello UML editor is really cool:

  • Automatic code generation (Ada, C++, C#, Java, perl, PHP, Python, Ruby)
  • Import classes and project (Ada, C++, IDL, Java, Pascal and Python only)

The bad news is that Umbrello does not receive a lot of love. It has been roughly ported to Qt4 and KDElibs4 but still uses a lot of Q3Canvas classes and has quite a few bugs.

[caption id="attachment_408" align="aligncenter" width="630" caption="Umbrello"]Umbrello today[/caption]

Working on Umbrello

Which is why I choose Umbrello for my conclusion work for the University. I would have to work on something anyway, why not pick something that matters? But as I combine my study (5 nights with each a different class) with a full-time job I don't have a lot of time to do a proper job on Umbrello. My goal for the University is therefore pretty modest: I intend to finish the port of the canvas to QGraphicsView. I have identified about 30 classes which are related to the Q3Canvas and will have to be ported or replaced. I also intend to use tools for automated tests, write unit tests and and fix some bugs.

But there is more to do:
  • Better stereotypes supports
  • Complete Undo/Redo  support
  • Hyperlinks support
  • Reuse KDevelop analysis for code import
  • Bug fixing

GSoC 2011

So I have applied for a Google Summer of Code. Jonathan Riddel, the current maintainer of Umbrello, has said he would mentor me, which is really cool. So if I get this, I can quit my current job and finish the porting to QGraphicsView much faster. To ensure it'll be a successful project, I've been quite modest in my goals for GSoC too: I only shortened my university plan to the GSoC timeline and added a few small things. If I finish the work for my conclusion work during the GSoC, I can be more ambitious for my University and add to the plan - I'm sure my professor won't mind if I take on some feature work in Umbrello as well!