Case Study:
Åland University of Applied Sciences

As a leading software modeling and diagramming tool, Astah Professional is a popular choice for university faculty. Using it in the classroom allows professors to give their students practice with tools used by the professionals. In addition, the practice of modeling helps students learn to think critically and strategically about software planning and design.

Joakim Isaksson, Lecturer in Information Technology at Åland University of Applied Sciences in Sweden is one of the many faculty members who regularly uses Astah Professional. He sat down with Astah to talk about what he appreciates about the tool.

Astah in use in the University

“I needed something more lightweight and easy to use for my course”

 

I use Astah in almost every course I teach: Object-oriented programming and design, mobile applications, database design. I use Astah to create the diagrams and models I use in my lectures and exercises, and my students use Astah during lab sessions and for their hand-in assignments.

My background is in the mobile software industry and back then I was using IBM’s Rational software suite for my modeling needs. When becoming a teacher I no longer had access to that software, and also thought that I needed something more lightweight and easy to use. I wanted a tool which would be available for my students both in school and at home.

Sample UML Class Diagram

 

Even though the agile development processes may have caused a shift away from creating and maintaining lots of detailed diagrams for documentation purposes there is no getting away from the importance of a good design when developing software, and in my opinion creating some diagrams is still one of the best ways to sort out your thoughts as well as provide a way to communicate the design to others. And even though you might get by with any simple drawing tool I find it helps immensely to have a specialized tool for easy editing and standardized output.

 

Sample UML Statemachine diagram

“I was very impressed with the functionality Astah Provides”

 

During my first years as a teacher, I tried out several tools such as ArgoUML, Dia and some UML plugins for various IDEs but was not completely satisfied with any of those. Then I stumbled upon the Community edition of Astah and was very impressed with the provided functionality.

After some evaluation, I decided that the Faculty license seemed a perfect fit for our needs.

Astah in Action

“Astah is hands down my favorite design tool”

 

It is actually hard to list one single benefit of Astah as I am very fond of several features:

  • Overall a very user-friendly experience with great support for all the important diagram types.
  • Extra points for the dataflow support as sometimes it’s just the right tool for visualizing those data-driven designs, and for the reverse and forward engineering functionality.
  • For my students, I recommend an iterative workflow where you create and test your OO design by developing class- and sequence diagrams in parallel and here I find Astah’s excellent integration between those diagrams to be of great help. You can easily keep your diagrams synchronized while the design evolves.
  • The nice layout support which makes it easy to create professional-looking diagrams for my presentations and exercises
  • Generous customization options for the level of detail to show in the diagrams
  • Java-based => cross-platform support

In summary, Astah is hands down my favorite design tool, and it has been of great benefit both to me and to my students.