Green: A Pedagogically Customizable Round-tripping UML Class Diagram Eclipse Plug-in
Carl Alphonce, University at Buffalo, State University of New York
Blake Martin, University at Buffalo, State University of New York
UML class diagrams are used quite commonly in CS1-CS2 courses and textbooks. The benefits of using these diagrams include providing a programming-language independent way of communicating program design, in an industry standard language. While drawing diagrams by hand is in itself useful, beginning students do not always perceive the benefit of designing before coding, and create these diagrams only if they have to, and then only as an afterthought.
We have found that students are much more receptive to using UML class diagrams as an integral part of their development if they see immediate benefits from doing so. This paper describes Green, a simple to use yet flexible and extensible UML class diagramming tool. Green (an Eclipse plug-in) provides complete round-tripping between code and class diagram. This capability makes it easy for students to alternate between a detailed code-level view and a more abstract design view of their projects. With this capability students see creating class diagrams not as a separate and tedious activity, but as an easy way to turn designs into code and to discover the design of existing code.
Green's distinguishing features when compared to similar tools are that it has been developed to meet the needs of CS1-CS2 students, the semantics of its relationships are customizable, additional class relationships can be defined and it is integrated with a mature development environment.