Just another SDE succes story :-)

Hi there,

I’ve been using Visual Paradigm’s SDE-NB[/url] (the [url=http://www.visual-paradigm.com/product/sde/nb/modeleredition.jsp]Modeler Edition) for a good month now and I’m very pleased with the product. And so after discovering the feedback forum I felt that some comments were in order :slight_smile:

First a little recap… I’ve been developing in Java for a good 4 to 5 years now, even though I’m not a full time developer. My main profession is systems engineering but since some of that involved massive Solaris administration the link to Java was quickly made. I’ve been using Java for private and business projects, ranging from simple IRC bots right to specific company software used for webserver monitoring and database administration.

After my projects became more and more complex and NetBeans introduced their UML plugin I started to fully adopt UML for a lot of things. UML really helps me to keep track of my project, focus on the important details but most of all: keeping a good overview of the ins and outs of my project and to make sure that I have and keep sufficient documentation around, should I ever need for someone else to pick up where I left off.

Everything went just fine right until the controversial NetBeans version 6 came out. Version 6 did have a lot of improvements in comparison with the previous 5.5.1, but at the same time also lacked a lot of important features. 6.1 made things a lot better, that was also my queue to look into an upgrade (I was still using 5.5.1 back then) and when 6.5 came out I finally made the switch as well. 6.5 addressed all the problems which 6.1 brought with it. All except one…

A lot of important features were gone in NB 6.0 but found their way back with release 6.1 and up. But with release 6.5 the UML plugin development team decided to do a rehaul of their software. Unfortunately resulting in a plugin which lacked support for most important UML diagrams but most of all: it was hardly usable anymore. Just trying to create something as simple as a Use Case was sheer horror, one long annoyance if not worse.

And this is where Visual Paradigm’s product suddenly came into the picture. I don’t know why, I don’t know how but it got mentioned on the NetBeans website and it immediately got my attention. If NB couldn’t provide me with continuity then maybe a commercial solution could…

I started evaluating the SDE release, which can directly hook itself into one of the major IDE’s, and soon realized that SDE surpasses the standard plugin’s feature by far! At first I allowed myself to fall into the (what I like to call) “homeostasis trap”. In other words; trying to turn SDE into another version of the NetBeans plugin by altering its looks so that it matched the NetBeans color schemes directly. Nothing wrong with trying to “coloring up” your diagrams but this was really a useless effort :wink:

Its also my first tip for new users: keep an open mind. Don’t try to turn SDE into something its not, but start from their defaults and then make the changes which you think make your diagrams look best. Not what other software might think looks best. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t experiment with its (massive!) presentation features at all. Just try to approach it with an open mind and keep your changes meaningful instead of fully driven by your own customs.

And well… Right now I’ve used SDE for some rather big projects which really required me to keep focussed on the overall development and I can indeed confirm that the way their software works is really something else. Naturally you need to have some basic understanding of UML diagrams, but even a minor lack of experience is very likely not much a drawback when it comes to creating good diagrams. SDE does indeed enforce some standards :slight_smile:

Anyway, since I am not familiar with every other UML diagram modeling software out there let me just close with some of the big advantages which SDE has to offer over the native NetBeans UML plugin (which I do happen to know very well since I’ve worked with this quite some time):

Diagrams on a per-project basis - With the native plugin you basically needed to maintain 2 projects; your software project and the UML project. And that wasn’t always very easy; the NetBeans projects window would clutter up really fast. Not so with SDE. One project; one set of diagrams. In another set of windows (tip: I like to keep the “Diagram navigator” and the “Model” window right next to the “Navigator window”, all below the 3 main windows (project, files and services). A sure way to keep things manageable).

Fully compliant with UML 2.0 standards - When I dove into UML modeling I got myself this nice O’Reilly book “UML 2.0” which has been an excellent learning tool and reference guide for me. The NetBeans plugin has a severe lack when it comes to being compliant. At some points it lacks features, where at others it has too much features. When working with SDE you can be sure that the tools you have in your toolbox are compliant with the standards for the diagram you’re working on. In a way SDE “nudges” you to using the right standards.

Very userfriendly - I used to hate creating sequence diagrams. It took a massive amount of my time, even to a point where I started wondering why I’d even bother! Granted; the results looked decent and considering the impact of the projects for which I had to create these there really wasn’t much choice. But I didn’t like it… Please try to picture my surprise when I started setting up a sequence diagram in SDE with 1 actor, 3 lifelines and quite some signaling. I was done in 15 - 20 minutes (I didn’t really keep track, but it wasn’t longer than 20). A same kind of diagram used to take me up to 40 - 60 minutes.

Great version diversity - 6 different versions and a fully free viewer. What more choice could you wish for? Even if you don’t want to spend money you can still apply for Paradigm’s community version which can help you to work on your projects a lot more than NB’s plugin ever can. And it doesn’t have to cost you. Ofcourse personally I’d suggest taking a serious look at the personal version at least. It’ll cost you some, but you get a great product in return without any limits (community version is at its best with one diagram-type per project if you’re doing exports like printing).

License freedom - License once, use on up to 3 computers (naturally not at the same time and you have to be the only user). So how does this work out for me: I’m normally using Linux as my work and develop station. It is here where I use NetBeans, and now also SDE. However; I also have a Vista workstation (primary used for games) which I sometimes also use to test my projects on Windows. I am fully allowed to have a SDE version installed here as well. So when I discover some oddity during testing I can immediately make changes to my diagram if need be. Heck; should my Linux box certainly fail due to whatever weird reason I can simply transport all my projects onto the Windows box and keep on working. Now that is service! And that is not even mentioning that I can also use it on my laptop as well :wink:

[b]Great support![/b] - Speaking of service… Mentioned last but certainly not least! I ran into a few issues during my evaluation and even a few (stupid on my part ;)) issues during the main use. One thing bugged me; when using Use Case diagrams the use case would display an extension section every time. I don’t like that in my diagrams (its also not required by UML standards) and so I asked how I could best turn this off. Resulting in a patch which allows you to turn this behavior off on a diagram level (instead of a per use-case level). Now thats service! And my silly questions? Well, with so many options it is easy to overlook what could sometimes be obvious. Like setting up the right fragment in a sequence diagram :wink:

Alas… Long story but there you have it. Working with SDE for some time now and really loving it. I hope that my post might give others some good points and hints. Do keep in mind: I’m using SDE with the NetBeans IDE and my comparison is also solely based on that.

With kind regards,


Dear Peter,

Thank you so much for your comments to our SDE for NetBeans (SDE-NB)! Your post inspires our team!

Since SDE-NB is embedded into NetBeans, I believe that NetBeans users like you will not be unfamiliar with the modeling environment and can carry SDE easily.
The great difficulty may be the first step on running SDE - some users doubt that: why SDE is not started after click “SDE for NetBeans-Sun ONE” launcher? Let me take this chance to explain this to all our users. SDE project required to be associated with one NetBeans project, so you need to have existing NetBeans project when start SDE-NB.
When you are working with NetBeans and would like to start SDE, you just need to right-click on the project and select Open SDE-NB in the popup menu. Then you can switch to the Modeling perspective to start/continue your development.

With the user-friendly interface and features, you can create diagrams quickly. Below are some useful features that you do not discover yet, but definitely you will find them helpful in diagramming, and they increase the productivity. And from the links I listed, you can watch the flash movies of demonstration of the features.
Note: SDE for Eclipse is used in the demonstration, but they’re similar in SDE for NetBeans.

Resource-centric Interface
This is the most obvious feature. By default, when you select a model or move the mouse cursor over a model on the diagram, you will see some tiny icons around the shape. Simply a drag-and-drop action will create a new model for you, with connector between the selected model and the new model.


Sweeper and Magnet
When constructing a diagram, I always need to deal with spaces between the shapes. As I’m going to insert a new shape between the shapes, sometimes I find that shapes are too concentrated so that the new shape will overlap with the existing shapes. Or in opposite, I feel that shapes are too far away and want them to be closer.
These circumstance can be resolved easily by Sweeper and Magnet, they behave as their name.


Jump To
When the project grows larger, the difficulty of finding a model out will be greater. “Jump To” feature will help you to figure out the model on diagram by the name, so you can quickly get the correct model for modification or further modeling.


Diagram Transitor
Usually, you will have phases of development, but isn’t it time consuming to create all similar models to represent a new phase? In our tool, you can simply transit an existing diagram to a new one by Diagram Transitor, which will copy all shapes from the existing diagram. The great advantage is that you will have transitions formed automatically between original shapes and copied shapes, so it will be easy to trace which model does it transited from/to in the future - not only on diagram, but also in the reports.


Design Pattern
If you will have similar visual design in project(s), you simply need to define the pattern of design in our tool. After that, you can re-use the pattern on a new diagram (or even in another project) and name the models in the pattern at the same time. I’m sure you will like this approach rather than copy and paste models, then rename then one by one.


You may want to have your own style of shapes in their projects, but how to make their style as default one is a general question. If you take a look at the style dialog of shape (just right-click on the shape and select Styles and Formatting > Format), there you can see the “Set as Default” button.
But set as default means it can remember one styles only, I believe there are users who like to have several styles of shapes - like me, and maybe you need this as well! We now have a new feature that can save your styles and apply to shapes in fast and simple way. Describe in words will be verbose, so I prefer you watch the flash demo:


We have flexible license agreement. As you said, and you are right, you can install the software up to 3 machines for the single-seat license (we support Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Unix).
Besides the single-seat license, floating license is available. The greatest advantage of floating license is the software sharing between users, and only extra 30% of cost of signle-seat license is required for a floating license - this especially benefit organizations.
No matter the single-seat license or the floating license, one license let you run one instance of software at any time.

If you are interested in the floating license, you can visit http://www.visual-paradigm.com/shop/floatinglicense.jsp

BTW, customer can always upgrade from single-seat license to floating license. Please contact our sales team to do so ( http://www.visual-paradigm.com/support/salesupport.jsp ).

Lastly, I would like to thank you for your positive feedback to our support! We keep listening to users and try our best to back them up, users are welcome to submit a ticket to our support team at http://www.visual-paradigm.com/support/ , and we normally reply the tickets within 8 hours. We also provide first priority phone and remote support to customers who are within software maintenance period.

Hope you will keep enjoying our software! Have a nice day!

Best regards,
Lilian Wong

1 Like

Hi Lilian.

First, a few comments.

Thanks to VP for what I think is a great UML tool. I say “I think” it’s a great tool, because although I installed SDE-NB CE and got the license key, the installation defaulted to the enterprise edition. Every time I tried to start the program, I got the “invalid license key” message. I eventually worked out that I had to use the Edition Manager to downgrade to the Community Edition.

Once downgraded, I created a project, and then attempted to follow your instructions:

“When you are working with NetBeans and would like to start SDE, you just need to right-click on the project and select Open SDE-NB in the popup menu. Then you can switch to the Modeling perspective to start/continue your development.”

Unfortunately, I am unable to work out how to switch to the Modelling perspective. Can you please provide instructions regarding this?