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Product Review: MagicDraw Architects Flexible Systems

When done correctly, the Unified Modeling Language development process is one of the most powerful ways to develop code. However, only No Magic's MagicDraw UML 11.5 has evolved to provide best-of-breed programming models and processes. When combined with open-source AndroMDA, developers will be able to generate complete solutions in source code.

In addition to covering UML 2.0 diagrams, MagicDraw arrives with database modeling, business process modeling, various XML standards and a powerful set of forward- and reverse-engineering capabilities. MagicDraw supports XML Metadata Interchange (XMI) 2.1 to interchange models with third-party tools such as AndroMDA and Compuware's OptimaJ. MagicDraw also supports exporting to the Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF) file format.

Third-party vendors turn XMI into profiles, which contain annotations that MagicDraw recognizes in order to transform UML models. For instance, entities within MagicDraw are translated by Modeling Driven Architecture (MDA) tools into database tables.

One of the key features in MagicDraw is its support for Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) and BEA-compatible Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) 1.1. MagicDraw's BPMN implementation helps solve the migration of BPEL files between BPM tools as well as reverse-engineer models into source code. By combining UML and BPMN, solution providers can offer unique conversion BPM solutions that close the gap between source code and BPEL.

As more companies rely on BPEL for mission-critical applications, they tie themselves into producing binaries from proprietary BPM engines. While these binaries run inside Enterprise Java, producing useful metrics from proprietary solutions is extremely difficult.

A possible solution comes out of MagicDraw's API, which is now used by third-party vendors' interchange models and to perform any type of tool integration development. For instance, solution providers can iterate through BPM models to generate BPEL binaries or migrate BPEL from one vendor to another. In addition to BPEL interchanges, solution providers can use output binaries to generate models and interchange them with other technologies.

MagicDraw can reverse-engineer Java class files from Java binaries, so BPEL binaries can turn into models. Similarly, the tool can reverse-engineer CORBA binaries into C++ files. For .Net, MagicDraw supports forward-engineering of C# 2.0. Code generated with AndroMDA using MagicDraw models can be re-engineered at any stage of a development life cycle so that changes are reflected in the models.

In addition to exporting EMF, MagicDraw integrates with Eclipse, allowing developers to consume models directly from MagicDraw. With EMF tools, developers can generate Java classes. MagicDraw also integrates with Modeling Driven Integration (MDI) vendors such as E2E Technologies, which specializes in generating interfaces between systems using SOA techniques.

MagicDraw supports Web application engineering diagrams to describe Web pages, including XML schema and WSDL diagrams. MagicDraw can transform classes into schemas and into WSDL. Both WSDL and XML schemas can be reverse-engineered. In addition, MagicDraw supports JUnit and various design patterns.

No Magic provides free technical support via phone and e-mail. If issues cannot be resolved through support, No Magic will connect its developers with partners. To become a partner, No Magic offers two options: a $10,000-a-month customer base or the solution provider can agree to a promotion campaign.

No Magic offers on-site and off-site training at a customer's location. A typical three-day course costs $1,150 per student.

No Magic's average reseller margin ranges from 20 percent to 25 percent. MagicDraw as a stand-alone costs $1,500.

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