Why I always end up NOT using modeling tools especially early in modeling, am I alone?


#1

Hello

Introduction

First let me say that I think VP is the best modeling tool around, Class diagramming and diagramming in general are best in class in term of usability and getting out of the way of my workflow and -so difficult to achieve- brain flow.

On the other hand high level , first idea, general analysis tools are very very frustrating to me for, sometime tiny sometime major, reasons and I always end up going back to a piece of text… Or hijacking the base UML diagrams to model concepts and their relationships.

The consequence is that I often end up NOT using VP as much as I should and could because what starts out, stays out of the product, and VP is then reduced to a UML modeling tool, first pass only, not updated.
Useful but not nearly as useful as it should be.

I also admit that I might have overlooked features but I did look for them.

Basically I think there is a LOT of diagrams but all of them come with a religion(they call that a “methodology” but that is a religion in fact, nothing to prove it is efficient or really helpful, but you have to believe it, even if evidence contradict the belief) and I would really love VP to “open up” and not enforce said methodology but supports it, so that we can drop the “dogmatic” baggage and just express our ideas the way we want to, if we want to.

Workflow example “the frustration road”

Today I wanted to jet down a few ideas about a “pet project” of mine (and many serious projects start or have ancestors has pet projects :wink: ).

What I wanted is to create “Topics” (Concept cards) with a name and line by line “features/concepts/ideas/responsibility” that I think those big “concepts” should have.
Maybe also link them with qualified links (colored arrows (blue arrows => dependency), or named arrows for interlinking concepts, etc, at that stage it is very free flow)

So I looked into my toolbox of models in my VP standard edition and saw the “Cardboard/Brainstorm” model : great !!!
Looks like the tool for the job …

But no…

Because all the Brainstorm model allows me to do is to create named rectangles, it is completely and utterly useless.
I did write a few lines in the “specification” box but I found no way to have them display in the body of the card.

I can do thousands of stuff with the cards linking them high and low to things(models, grids whatever) that do not even exist in my mind yet (still useless) but having something has simple has a card with a multi-line content displayed is impossible.
Simply allowing to display the specification into the card would greatly expand the usefulness of the model.

But no.

One step further would be to be able to have “specification lines”, multiple text lines in the specification that can be individually linked to other models later on in the process, but without taking this road of creating a new model type, simply opening the existing one would make it a truly useful brainstorming idea tools.

There is probably a theory underpinning the current limitation of the brainstorm tool, linked to the book of an overpaid consultant that never designed anything but his own money making schemes promising to simplify hard work by reducing it to simple ideas and selling this to overpaid managers but that’s not how real work is done.

So I decided to try another tool, the “mind map” tool.

I already tried to use many mind maps tools for jotting out ideas and always got frustrated by the incredibly idiotic premise that there is a “central idea” and everything linked to it.
It is deeply idiotic and not a useful constraint: 60% of mind map diagram end up being ridiculous “taken from google image search” pictures linked with weak concepts (produce, create, relate to, etc ) to one another. The remaining 40% label the “main idea” “whatever title” and build around it with many forced arrow cluttering the diagram from this central node …
Again, I know many “new age cum modern gurus” turned money makers in “conceptuollogy”, will explain bullshit like “constraints free you” and “try to come up with your ideas in 5 minutes” but that’s garbage.

The very same model would be so much more useful if we could get rid of this “central node” or have has many as we want to organize our concepts and the ideas around them in a graphically meaningful idea.
The next step would be to provide “categories of arrow” allowing us to link those concept with “time relationship category arrow” (blue for instance), "Dependency relationship arrow (yellow) etc etc. … but simply be free of the unique central node will allow the model to be much much much more useful.
Unfortunately VP mind map tool enforce this “religion” to a T (well a R) … shit :wink:

Conclusion

I would love you to get rid of the idiotic “central ideas” in mind maps, and allow the display of text (description) inside a brainstorm card.

And more generally, all the useful modeling diagrams in the world have been invented already, each new one is just a variation on another one to follow another “new wave” of crookedness books and “technological mind innovation” but those can exists precisely only because each tool is linked to a narrow minded methodology that is unsatisfying in real world use and thus lead users into frustration and then have them latching onto another new but, all the same falsely promising, narrow minded, graphic representation of the same ideas.

It is fine to have a toggle “follow religion X” for the one who believe in that crap and to have the boxes in the product sheet, it is important to convince some purchase decision makers.

But it is much more important to allow us, real world designers [ :wink: ], to expand the use of the tools by relieving artificial constraints so that we can express, iterate on and communicate our ideas in a natural way.

There is no reason to have a central idea to everything and many design problem arise or are solved precisely at the boundary between concepts (and sometimes the boundaries between business and technical concepts).
There is no reason to have cards with just a tittle or less than 10 words for a concept, everyone can stop at 10 words if they really believe they must, limiting the tool that way is an “insult” to everyone else :wink:

But maybe I am alone with these feelings :wink:


#2

You can create several “central” nodes and relate nodes according to your own convention.
Sample Mind Map


#3

But what enforced methodology? I can’t help but to disagree a little on that because there are a lot of different ways in which you can start your project / diagrams.

For example… you mentioned a piece of paper, have you ever looked into the textual analysis diagrams? It’s usually how I start a project: you basically write down a rough description or general concept, and then extract several elements from your text which you can then use as model elements within your diagram(s).

Of course you’re not limited to having to write things down, you can also import existing material which you can then use.

I know it’s not necessarily related to mind mapping, but still another way to approach broad designs.

But back to mind mapping…

I don’t really recognize the scenario you’re describing. First off because of what @ionicatoms demonstrated above, but also because of some other options which are at your disposal.

Are you sure about that? :wink:

So what do we have here… As you can see you can add images, free form items (scroll down the palette and you’ll find the freehand tools) and lots more.

There is a work flow involved but I don’t think it’s very limiting. However… there’s one important option here which is easy to overlook: “Auto Fit Shapes Size”. Right click on an empty area in the diagram, then check the “Diagram Content” section, you’ll find the option in there, it’s enabled by default.

So by default all model elements have a predefined shape and size, and I think that’s what caused you some annoyance. So if you turn that option off you’ll have much more customization options.

The sky becomes pretty much the limit. You can easily resize those boxes, you can add other objects (like text fields) and then even group those so that you’ll end up with an item which has extra contents (you can see that in “resize boxes”). Oh: I also changed the caption location for that one.

And this is also what I meant with my initial comment about VP not having one predefined workflow.

For example: for the ‘resize boxes’ node I added a text field, grouped the node and the text box together (select the elements by using control-click, then right click and find the “grouping” option) and suddenly I have a new “commented node”.

But I can also click on the “show description” icon (lower right corner of the screen) and then use that area to provide extra comments for a model element (or right click on an element and select “open specification”, then provide a more detailed description).

There’s honestly a lot more which you can do here and I hope this example can give you some new ideas. Still, as said I think your main annoyance came from the auto-sized elements, that disallowed you to resize (and thus customize) anything. That got me very confused as well at first, as I mentioned it’s very easy to overlook.