Using PowerDesigner for Application Architecture

A review of software used for my recent work on the Tobacco Inspection System architecture:

With 3 layers of review committees, these models need to be easy to update.  I did the business architecture in Visio, and regretted it every time I had to update the same object in multiple places.  (Of course there is no CASE tool that handles all of the Ontario Public Service’s business architecture templates, but some adaptations have been made.)

I used Sybase PowerDesigner for the systems architecture, with relative success.  It is of course a good data modeling tool, and I wish I’d used it for the conceptual as well as logical data models.

I used PowerDesigner for actors and use-case diagrams, but not for the use case specifications. (MS Word supports cross-references between sections, so an Alternate Flow could be linked to a step within the Basic Flow of a use case.)

This was my first clue that the PowerDesigner Object-Oriented Model tool (its UML diagrammer) had limitations.  I described the application components in PowerDesigner, in a hierarchy based on the application tiers.  The same components could not be diagrammed in a different hierarchy of subsystems.  I couldn’t show the components on a sequence diagram, so instead I hard-coded the component names as “objects”.

There were a few bugs, and many more unreasonable limitations on the display and connection of application components, so we ended up using Visio for most of our deployment models.  I’m disappointed, not just because Visio allows creation of redundant symbols for the same object.  I was hoping to use the stricter metamodel of PowerDesigner to produce a more rigorous application architecture, but it was too strict to express all our thoughts!

PowerDesigner did however allow me to create complex reports, combining multiple kinds of diagrams and definitions with section titles and text blurbs.  I only had to do a little bit of work in MS Word to make the reports presentable.