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UML Modelling: Activity Diagram
UML is a unified modeling language. This UML language consists of several different types of diagrams. In this article we discuss about activity diagram.
In its basic form, an activity diagram is a simple and intuitive explanation of what is happening in a workflow, which actions can be performed in parallel, and whether there are alternative paths through the workflow. These diagrams as defined in the Unified Modeling Language [UML1.3] they derive from different techniques for visual illustration of workflows. Much of the basis for defining this diagram information is in the [Martin & Odell].
Activity diagrams can be used to visualize the workflow of a business use case. An absolute workflow interpretation will have a base flow and one or more alternative flows. This workflow has a structure that can be described textually using informal if, if-then-else, or do-until statements of various types. For a simple workflow with a simple structure, such textual definitions may be moderately adequate, but v
in the case of more complex structures, these diagrams help illuminate and create a more visible workflow. Historically, these diagramming techniques were typically used in the business process modeling domain, but they can also be used in the system modeling domain.
In June 2003, The Rational Edge introduced a new article series by Donald Bell, IBM Global Services, called UML Basics. The purpose of this series is to help readers become familiar with the main diagrams that make up the bulk of UML. Part I offered a general overview of these diagrams; this month we continue the series with a detailed look at this diagram, taking into account the full set of UML v1.4 notations of this diagram.
The purpose of the activity diagram
The purpose of this diagram is to represent the technical flow of events that are part of a larger activity. In projects where use cases are present, these diagrams can model the exact use case at a more comprehensive level. However, these diagrams can be used independently of use cases to model a business-level function, such as buying a concert ticket or signing up for a course. Activity diagrams can also be used to model system-level functions, such as how a ticket reservation data warehouse populates a corporate sales system data warehouse. Because it models a procedural flow, an activity diagram focuses on a series of execution actions and the situations that activate or guard those actions. Again, this diagram is only focused on the internal actions of an activity and not on the actions that invoke an activity in its process flow or that trigger an activity based on an event.
Although UML sequence diagrams can show the same information as activity diagrams, I personally find these diagrams great for modeling functions at the business level. This is because these diagrams show all possible sequence flows in an activity, whereas a sequence diagram usually shows only one activity flow. In addition, business managers and the business process workforce seem to favor these diagrams more than sequence diagrams – the activity diagram is apparently less “technical” and therefore less threatening to business people. In addition, business managers are used to seeing flowcharts, so the “look” of an activity diagram is familiar.
When to use: Activity charts
These diagrams should be used in combination with other modeling techniques such as interaction diagrams and state diagrams. A key motivation for using these diagrams is to model the workflow behind the designed system.
Activity charts are also useful for:
- Use case analysis, describing which actions require execution and when they should occur.
- Description of a complex sequential algorithm.
- Modeling applications with parallel processes.
However, activity diagrams should not take the place of interaction diagrams and state diagrams. these diagrams do not give details about how the objects behave or how the objects interact.
Activity diagrams are graphical representations of workflows of step-by-step activities and actions by maintaining options, repetition and concurrency. In the language of unified modeling, you can use these diagrams to show the business and operational workflows of the mechanisms in the system step by step. This diagram shows the general control flow.
Activity diagrams express the performance of a system’s workflow. These diagrams are parallel to state diagrams because activities are the state of doing something. Diagrams describe the state of an activity by presenting the sequence of performed activities. These diagrams can validate activities that are conditional or parallel.
Activity diagrams consist of a limited number of shapes connected by arrows. The most important types of shapes:
- Rounded rectangles correspond to activities;
- Diamonds symbolize decisions;
- The lines represent the start (split) or end (merge) of concurrent activities;
- The black circle means the start (initial state) of the workflow;
- An encircled black circle means the end (final state).
- Arrows run from start to finish and represent the order in which the activities are performed.
Therefore, all these shapes can be considered as a flowchart shape. Conventional flowcharting methods lack constructs to express concurrency. However, the union and division symbols in these diagrams specify this only for simple cases. The meaning of the representation is not understood if they are randomly combined with decisions or repetitions.
Description, meaning and sequence of basic records:
- Start Node: The filled circle is the starting point of the diagram. A start node is not necessary, although it makes the diagram drastically easier to read.
- Activity end node: A filled circle with a border is the end point. An activity diagram can have zero or more activity end nodes.
- Activity: Rounded rectangles represent activities that are being performed. The activity can be physical, such as reviewing forms, or electronic, such as a student display and creation screen.
- Flow/Edge or Arrows on a Diagram: While there is a subtle difference between flows and edges, I’ve never seen a practical purpose for the distinction, although I have no doubt it exists. I will use the term flow.
- Fork: There is a black line where one current goes and several leave. This marks the beginning of a parallel activity.
- Join: There is a black bar where several streams enter and one exits. All streams going into the aggregation must reach it before processing can continue. This means the end of parallel processing.
- Condition: The diagram contains text such as [Incorrect Form] on the stream that defines a guard that must evaluate to true in order to traverse the node.
- Decision: There is a diamond with one input stream and several output streams. Output streams include conditions, although some modelers will not specify conditions if they are obvious.
- Merger: There is a diamond shape with several streams entering and one exiting. The result is that one or more input streams must reach this point before processing can continue, subject to any safeguards on the output stream.
- Partition: This is organized into three partitions, also called swimming lanes, which indicate who/what performs the activities (investor, registrar or system).
- Sub-activity indicator: A rake in the bottom corner of an activity, such as the Apply to University activity, indicates that the activity is described by a more detailed activity diagram.
- Finite Flow: If there is a circle through which X is, it is called Finite Flow. This means that the process stops at this point.
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