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Component Diagrams in UML

  • December 3, 2003
  • By Mandar Chitnis, Pravin Tiwari, & Lakshmi Ananthamurthy
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The previous articles covered two of the three primary areas in which the UML diagrams are categorized (see Article 1)—Static and Dynamic. The remaining two UML diagrams that fall under the category of Implementation are the Component and Deployment diagrams. In this article, we will discuss the Component diagram.

Basics

The different high-level reusable parts of a system are represented in a Component diagram. A component is one such constituent part of a system. In addition to representing the high-level parts, the Component diagram also captures the inter-relationships between these parts.

So, how are component diagrams different from the previous UML diagrams that we have seen? The primary difference is that Component diagrams represent the implementation perspective of a system. Hence, components in a Component diagram reflect grouping of the different design elements of a system, for example, classes of the system.

Let us briefly understand what criteria to apply to model a component. First and foremost, a component should be substitutable as is. Secondly, a component must provide an interface to enable other components to interact and use the services provided by the component. So, why would not a design element like an interface suffice? An interface provides only the service but not the implementation. Implementation is normally provided by a class that implements the interface. In complex systems, the physical implementation of a defined service is provided by a group of classes rather than a single class. A component is an easy way to represent the grouping together of such implementation classes.

You can model different types of components based on their use and applicability in a system. Components that you can model in a system can be simple executable components or library components that represent system and application libraries used in a system. You also can have file components that represent the source code files of an application or document files that represent, for example, the user interface files such as HTML or JSP files. Finally, you can use components to represent even the database tables of a system as well!

Now that we understand the concepts of a component in a Component diagram, let us see what notations to use to draw a Component diagram.

Elements of a Component Diagram

A Component diagram consists of the following elements:

Element and its descriptionSymbol
Component: The objects interacting with each other in the system. Depicted by a rectangle with the name of the object in it, preceded by a colon and underlined.
Class/Interface/Object: Similar to the notations used in class and object diagrams
Relation/Association: Similar to the relation/association used in class diagrams

Creating a Component Diagram



Click here for a larger image.

Figure 1 Screen shot of the Poseidon tool

The screen shot of the Poseidon tool in Figure 1 shows the different options to model components in a Component diagram and define interactions between these components.





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