Skip to main content

Lost and Fnd

I could spend the next two years tweaking things as much as I have the past two but it's time to get some feedback on this so here we go...

Software modelling tools are expensive, bad at collaboration and more complicated than the vast majority of solutions demand. They set their sights on an unachievable utopia, demand constant maintenance to avoid being constantly out of date and dictate that we all follow overly prescriptive rules which may be philosophically correct but are practically irrelevant.

Diagramming tools are cheaper, better at collaboration and simpler but are all too fluid, lack structure and meaning and are far too open to interpretation. The best such tool I use is a whiteboard, a pen and room - a shame that such are so transient and unstructured.

A middle way is needed.

To this end I introduce Fnd (alpha).





Fnd lets you build catalogs, diagrams and matrices for solutions in a collaborative manner.

For now you can only sign-in with Google and when you do you'll first be asked to create an account. Once you do you'll see the home page which provides a list of current solutions.



Hit [+]  to create a new solution and provide any details you need.



Save this and you should now see a new solution defined on the homepage.



To edit the entry click on the main icon. To access the solution page, click on the link icon next to the solution name:


Clicking on the solution link takes you to the solution page which provides a list of the catalogs, diagrams and matrices associated with that solution.



From here you can create a structural diagram



and in the diagram view you can set the title and description (and tags (a little more on tagging will come later)).



The nav bar allows you to specify the stencil, colours, save, reload, screenshot, document, delete (item) and delete diagram.



To add something to the diagram select the catalog item and "new". This will show a popup allowing you to define that it and add it to the diagram.



Each catalog type has attributes specific to its needs. Choose that which suits best. For example, a component shows as:

When added to the diagram it appears with a stencil relevant to its type. This stencil can be changed by selecting the object in the diagram then the stencil type from the "Shapes" or "UML" drop-down. In the example below there are two components, one shown as a UML component stencil, the other as a database component.



Double click on the object to edit the settings and make sure you save the diagram - editing an object is immediate, changes to diagrams need to be saved.

Relationships can be added by clicking and dragging on the link icon (green +) from one object to the link icon on another.



From actor to component results in:



Double clicking on the link itself allows the attributes of the link to be defined. By default every link is a dependency but this can be changed as desired.

... and so on to build up diagrams.

Perhaps more importantly, if you grant another user access to your account (email-address > account > add user) then if you can both edit the same objects/diagrams at the same time and will see updates reflected in each others browser.

Matrices provide views of relationships in tabular and animated form. For example the above diagram appears as:

and

And catalog lists provide access to all objects of that type.


There's more to this with multiple diagrams providing different views, the ability to search and add objects from one solution to another, using tags to provide filtered views, generating documentation from diagrams and so on. I can't promise diagrams are always "pretty" or that models are "correct" but instead aim for a hopefully happy compromise somewhere between the two - enough to be understood!

A word of warning... Fnd is alphaware, I'm looking for feedback, it has bugs - some I know, some I do not. I use it daily in my work and it works for me (mostly). Let me know how you get on - the good, the bad and the ugly - and in turn I'll try to improve it and make it more stable and functional.

You can access Fnd at Feedback to admin [at] nfa.cloud.

p.s. Fnd is short for Foundation and simply a tip of my hat to one of my favourite authors...

UPDATE 2021-3-28: Work on FND has halted and it is no longer available. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An Observation

Much has changed in the past few years, hell, much has changed in the past few weeks, but that’s another story... and I’ve found a little time on my hands in which to tidy things up. The world of non-functionals has never been so important and yet remains irritatingly ignored by so many - in particular by product owners who seem to think NFRs are nothing more than a tech concern. So if your fancy new product collapses when you get get too many users, is that ok? It’s fair that the engineering team should be asking “how many users are we going to get?”,   or “how many failures can we tolerate?” but the only person who can really answer those questions is the product owner.   The dumb answer to these sort of question is “lots!”, or “none!” because at that point you’ve given carte-blanche to the engineering team to over engineer... and that most likely means it’ll take a hell of a lot longer to deliver and/or cost a hell of a lot more to run. The dumb answer is also “only a couple” and “

Inter-microservice Integrity

A central issue in a microservices environment is how to maintain transactional integrity between services. The scenario is fairly simple. Service A performs some operation which persists data and at the same time raises an event or notifies service B of this action. There's a couple of failure scenarios that raise a problem. Firstly, service B could be unavailable. Does service A rollback or unpick the transaction? What if it's already been committed in A? Do you notify the service consumer of a failure and trigger what could be a cascading failure across the entire service network? Or do you accept long term inconsistency between A & B? Secondly, if service B is available but you don't commit in service A before raising the event then you've told B about something that's not committed... What happens if you then try to commit in A and find you can't? Do you now need to have compensating transactions to tell service B "oops, ignore that previous messag

Equifax Data Breach Due to Failure to Install Patches

"the Equifax data compromise was due to their failure to install the security updates provided in a timely manner." Source: MEDIA ALERT: The Apache Software Foundation Confirms Equifax Data Breach Due to Failure to Install Patches Provided for Apache® Struts™ Exploit : The Apache Software Foundation Blog As simple as that apparently. Keep up to date with patching.