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Design patterns are generic design solutions that can be applied and composed in different applications where pattern-related information is generally implicit in the Unified Modeling Language (UML) diagrams of the applications. It is unclear in which pattern instances each modeling element, such as class, attribute, and operation, participates. It is hard for a designer to find the design patterns used in an application design. Consequently, the benefits of design patterns are compromised because designers cannot communicate with each other in terms of the design patterns they used and their design decisions and trade-offs. In this paper, we present a UML profile that defines new stereotypes, tagged values, and constraints for tracing design patterns in UML diagrams. These new stereotypes and tagged values are attached to a modeling element to explicitly represent the role the modeling element plays in a design pattern so that the user can identify the pattern in a UML diagram. Based on this profile, we also develop a Web service (tool) for explicitly visualizing design patterns in UML diagrams. With this service, users are able to visualize design patterns in their applications and compositions because pattern-related information can be dynamically displayed. A real-world case study and a comparative experiment with existing approaches are conducted to evaluate our approach.
Date of Publication: July 2007