A rational programming decision

In the SSL/CW list of top IT skills, Rational Rose is 59th.

In the SSL/CW list of top IT skills, Rational Rose is 59th.

What is it?

Rational Rose enables teams of developers to pool their skills and work with end-users to specify, design, generate and test applications.

Analyst firm IDC called Rational Rose an analysis, modelling and design (AMD) tool. IDC said, "The AMD tools market seems to have finally managed the transition from the old computer-aided software engineering tools market to something more dynamic. It is better suited to address the needs of developers and rapidly changing business and technology requirements."

The reason for this transition is the Object Management Group's Unified Modelling Language, which went into use in 1997 and is now up to version 2.0.

Software designers and end-users work together to create descriptions of business processes which form the basis of application designs. Modelling applications in this way is said to reduce the risk of project failure. Rational Rose is the market-leading UML tool.

Where did it originate?

Rational Software was founded in 1981 and grew into the largest supplier of AMD tools which held nearly one third of the market in 2001. Their nearest competitor, Oracle, owned about 8%. Rational was taken over by IBM early this year.

What is it for?

Developers create graphical representations of the different steps needed to carry out business processes using UML. These models can then be used to generate code, forming re-usable software components.

Other parts of the Rational Rose Enterprise suite deal with code testing, version control and change management.

Rational Rose Realtime is used for embedded systems development and is used in telecoms, wireless and defence.

What makes it special?

Rational Rose is a high-level AMD tool, meaning it is not tied to any integrated development environment, language, database or platform. Applications can be generated for any environment.

Applications can be developed much more quickly than with traditional coding and can then be easily modified and re-used. Existing applications can be reverse-engineered into UML models.

How difficult is it to master?

UML is not easy to learn and Rose was correspondingly difficult to use until Rational came up with its professional extended development environment.

This enables programmers to generate and learn UML while coding in a familiar language. Rational XDE is integrated into Dreamweaver and studio suites from IBM, Microsoft and Borland, among others.

Where is it used?

Rational and IBM claims its tools are used by 98 of the Fortune 100 company list and it is also used by the Inland Revenue. Rational did have a close relationship with Microsoft and Borland, but both are now thought to be seeking alternative partners to supply AMD components.

Do not confuse...

IBM's tussle with Microsoft to take over Rational with the War of the Roses.

What systems does it run on?

Rational Rose is used with Java development platforms, C, C++, Visual C++, Visual Basic and Ada.

Not many people know that...

"What is rational is actual and what is actual is rational" (Hegel).

What is coming up?

IBM is co-chairing the Object Management Group's UML 2.0 initialisation taskforce, and is also involved in unifying UML and web services standards.


Training is available from IBM through the old website address.


Rates of pay

Software engineers with Rational Rose can expect £25,000 to £40,000. Higher rates are available for embedded systems designers with experience of Rational Rose Real Time.

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