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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1949 reviews in the database and more every month.
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UML Weekend Crash Course
Thomas A Pender
0 7645 4910 3
355pp + CD
David Nash
Appeared in:
The idea of this series of books is to provide an introduction to each chosen subject in a sequence of lessons, designed to be followed over the course of a weekend. Although their idea of a weekend is slightly generous, lasting from Friday afternoon, through Saturday evening, until Sunday afternoon.

I must admit up front that I did not spend a weekend reading this book. Rather, I read most of it over a period of two or three weeks. I am a little sceptical about the value of such a 'cram' style course and I think it is more realistic to read the book over a longer period of time, as I did for the review.

Setting aside minor quibbles regarding the format of the 'course' I have to say that the content is very good. It is written in a clear manner and covers all the features of UML that I have come across in the past, although not being an expert I couldn't say whether it is completely comprehensive. It certainly contains enough to be useful though.

The book goes through all the usual stuff: Use cases, class diagrams, activity diagrams and sequence diagrams and so on. It also separates the different models into the Static View, the Dynamic View and the Functional View, representing different aspects of the system being modelled.

One criticism I would make is that it gives no coverage to the subject of choosing your classes, or designing them. Although, to be fair, it does not try to be a book about design. However, the omission is rather obvious when applying the methodology to the case-study used throughout the book and the author suddenly jumps from having described class and object diagrams, to 'now identify your classes' - without offering a great deal of help in how that should be done.

When the book reaches the 'Sunday Afternoon' section (session 27), it suddenly switches from the previous case study (an order fulfilment/dispatch system) to a new one, involving Java-based web services. This involves a quick tutorial on such systems, which to my mind is unnecessary padding that is not at all relevant to the subject being taught. It gives the impression of trying to be a bit trendier, by involving HTML, XML and Java server pages, than the other case-study, which is of a more traditional nature.

The book also includes a CD-ROM, with the full text of the book, plus supplementary material and the Object Management Group UML standard (all as PDFs) and for those running Windows (NT4 or greater in one case) a couple of sample UML generating tools. Curiously enough the Windows-specific files on the CD were not visible to my Linux PC, although the rest were and the files were all there when I rebooted into Windows. I was (pleasantly) surprised to see that the tools don't get much coverage (besides a short chapter) in the book, which prefers to concentrate on the models themselves rather than the tools used to generate them.

Overall a well-written book and I would recommend it, although perhaps not to be used in a single weekend sitting.