By TinuA on Jul 18, 2013
Here's the first of the two interviews I mentioned in the last post. My subject? Zoran Sevarac, an Assistant Professor at the University of Belgrade and a member of the NetBeans Dream team with an impressive list of activities around NetBeans and Java. He has served on the NetBeans Governance board; started a NetBeans User Group in Serbia; presented at JavaOne; hosted NetBeans Platform trainings in Serbia; and oh yeah, he sings too!
His latest contribution? Leading the community project to develop a NetBeans UML plugin. Read on. (The interview below is also posted to NetBeans Zone.)
A recent YouTube video stirred up some excitement amongst NetBeans
users. In it, viewers saw first glimpses of a new community-led
project--the revival of the NetBeans UML Plugin.
The plugin is in development by a team from the University of
Belgrade's newly launched Open-Source Center, and the team is led by
Zoran Sevarac, an Assistant Professor at the institution and who is
also a long-time member of the NetBeans Dream Team. In this
interview, Zoran shares more about the plugin's development and
What is the Open-Source Center at the University of Belgrade?The Open-Source Center is a part of the Department for Software Engineering at the University. The center is dedicated to the development of open source software projects and using these projects to also teach software development. (More about the Open-Source Center on NetBeans Zone.)
In what stage is the UML plugin currently?
The plugin is still under development--we're finalizing the first phase--it will soon be ready for an early-preview release. At the moment, people can use it to draw class diagrams, and I expect the plugin to have some basic code generation functionality soon.
What other features are planned?We plan to do sequence diagrams for sure [since there is no good open source tool for that at the moment]. Most likely we'll do module diagrams as component diagrams. After the preview release, when we get feedback from the community, we'll consider additional types of diagrams/features.
We also want to provide simple Java API for UML models (check out the sources in UMLModel module), and maybe some experimental AI-based algorithms for software design analysis in the future (similar to what's been done in Featureous).
Is the plugin (in its current stage) available for download and testing by the public?Yes, the source code is available from SVN on Java.net . People can checkout and run it from the NetBeans IDE. However, I recommend that they wait another week or two, since we still have to polish some bugs.
There have been other attempts to create a NetBeans-UML plugin. How is your team's approach different?Well, we want to create an easy-to-use, developer-friendly tool--a tool that will allow developers to quickly implement basic design and then continue coding. We want to provide enough features to be useful, and to leave out everything that developers don't find useful. Judging from the comments on Twitter and YouTube so far there are many users who likes this approach, and I want to thank Tim Boudreau for giving us insightful tips about UML tooling on his blog .
What challenges has your team faced on this project?
The first challenge was to learn how to use Visual Library for this
project. We're still not experts, but I think we're now able to
figure out what we need. Another was to keep the design clean and
simple. I think we're doing well, though we've had do some
refactoring from time to time.
An upcoming challenge is to create good documentation for the project so new developers are able to continue development. We have two students writing their graduate thesis about this project, so that will be a kind of introductory material for future developers.
Probably the most important of all is to create a good user interface and interaction design. It's not the main focus at the moment.