To UML or not to UML? - Empirical Study on the Approachability of Software Architecture Diagrams

Author(s): Veli-Pekka Eloranta, Essi Isohanni, Samuel Lahtinen, Outi Sievi-Korte
Venue: ASWEC 2015 24th Australasian Software Engineering Conference
Date: 2015

Type of Experiement: Survey/Multi-Case Study
Sample Size: 772
Class/Experience Level: Graduate Student
Participant Selection: graduate student classwork
Data Collection Method: Survey


This study’s goal was to find weather UML or free form diagrams are better in several categories: understandability, pleasantness, applicability, and unambiguousness. The reason for this study was that in a previous conference a study showed that UML is rarely used in industry and so must be viewed as not beneficial. For their study they showed 772 Finnish masters and PhD students a number of diagrams and had them rate the diagrams according to the previously mentioned categories. Their results showed that multiple colors where not helpful as well as that UML consistently better understandable outside of one free form diagram that was best in every category. They also found that a simplified diagram is helpful but an overly simplified diagram has a negative effect.