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UML officially an unfunny matter

An action and an artifact walk into a bar...

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Contrary to popular opinion, programmers are not a dry and humourless bunch. What old mainframer can fail to chortle at seeing the graffiti legend "Data error rules, OC7"?

No, software development is rife with humor, a fact that sometimes lands the authors of hidden jokers in hot water.

There are some things, though, you can't really joke about. A recent competition for jokes written in Unified Modeling Language (UML) is a case in point.

Sponsored by the awkwardly named International Software and Productivity Engineering Institute (INTSPEI), the results of the competition reveal that UML, er, just isn't funny.

The winning entry is a flowchart of Hamlet's famous To be or not to be soliloquy - which wasn't funny in the first place and certainly isn't funny described as a UML activity diagram. Similarly, the lifecycle of Solomon Grundy - a sad reflection on mortality - fails to have its humor quotient raised by UML.

What is vaguely amusing is the background to the competition. INTSPEI is the brainchild of a former Microsoft engineer from Russia Vladimir Pavlov who a few years ago conducted the Babel experiment that attempted to prove software developers who communicated only through UML were more successful than those who spoke to each other in their native language. Now that is funny. See Genesis 11 v9-10 for more.

For a genuinely humorous take on UML then the student letter, originally published in Ed Yourdon's American Programmer journal in 1997, is a better bet.®

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