Learn about CASE Tools

With the development of technology, many aspects of the manual processes of what people did change. System development and software development is also a category, the advent of technology affected in. Back in the day, many time consuming and tiresome work such as report generation, form generation or even code generation had to be done by a human according to his/her knowledge of the specific field. However, with the advent of technology, much of this work has been automated and computerized.

For example, look at how communication has changed over the last decade. Almost all the forms of communication have changed to digital methods such as E-Mail, WhatsApp etc. Just like that, software engineering has also been a target of this digitalization. CASE tools are the tools that help in software engineering. CASE stands for Computer-Aided Software/System Engineering. Although the long term is argued between the words System and Software, I chose to speak more generally on them without limiting to a single category.

Just like communication options, CASE tools have a wide variety of options for one to choose from. Selecting the best and the most suitable CASE tool for your needs might be a bit tricky given that there is a huge selection to choose from and many unique features to all of them. For that, in my opinion, the most important factor is considering your requirements with the features that the CASE tool may provide. For example, let’s take two imaginary CASEs as A and B. Imagine A provides 5 different uses like report generation, analysis and etc. except form generation but B provides only form generation. If your target is to generate the forms required, you might not go with A, but B will be the most suitable choice for you. As this is an example, it was easy to decide what to choose given the two options as A and B. But in real life, things are much complicated. There are loads of choices even if you narrow your selecting criteria according to your requirements. That is where you should be tactful in selecting the best one because CASE tools have huge price tags on them very frequently. (“CASE Tools Comparison – Results”) Therefore, before using CASE tools it is very important to have a clear methodology to select the most suitable software.

There are many ways to judge CASE tools. This paper will be evaluating different CASE tools under the terms, complexity, price tag, usability, effectiveness and reliability. However, though these terms are very commonly used, your requirements might change the importance of each criterion of judging a CASE tool. If you are strictly budgeted, you might consider price tag to be the most important factor, while someone else who might be not restricted with a budget, might consider it of a lesser notice. Let’s look at some of the possible choices one can take regarding CASE tools.

 

  1. IGrafx
  2. Meta Edit+
  3. Microsoft Visio
  4. Omnigraffle
  5. Rational software
  6. Smart Draw
  7. StarUML
  8. Modelio
  9. Edraw
  10. UMLet

The above list is only a handful of choices in the market. Just like this, before choosing the most suitable choice, you have to limit your choices according to your requirements. According to the criteria mentioned above, the best tool can be brought forward.

 

Complexity

 

By the term complexity, I am referring to the user-friendliness of the tool. A complete beginner to CASE tools should have no trouble in getting their work done. Even for veteran developers, using a simple tool will be much quicker and easier. Drag and drop editors, live visual previews and advanced navigation bars make software a lot more user friendly and simple.

In my opinion and in my standards, Microsoft Visio is the most beginner-friendly tool out there. IGrafx comes close also. But MS Visio is hard to integrate with many other solutions out there. Software like Rational Rose, StarUML also has a pretty simple interface and workflow. But, the main competitor for Visio in terms of complexity is Edraw. Wonder share’s Edraw Max is also very beginner-friendly and it also has many different diagrams for the user to add to their graphs and figures. Comparing these two options (“Visio vs. IGrafx Comparison”), it seems that Edraw has more figures than Visio but when compared by templates, Visio clearly wins.

Therefore, taken as a whole, I think Visio is easier and simpler to use. With the templates and the easy-to-use toolbars, a beginner can easily find their way around the software with ease.

 

Price Tag

 

As I have mentioned earlier, on many occasions, the price tag of these software has huge amounts on them. The price tag is not a good criterion to measure the performance or the actual workflow value of the software. But when selecting a CASE tool, Price matters for sure. Again, this is totally dependent on the user.

In our list, UMLet is an open-source option and therefore, it is completely free to use. Also, it has most of the features but the visual design is not as good as the other options.  And also, this offers a good code generating system, therefore making your work rather easy. If the budget is a huge constrain, you should probably go with UMLet.

Tool Price
IGrafx 692$ + 1792$(Optional)
Meta Edit + 3450 €
MS Visio 15$ Per month
Omnigraffle 12.49$ per month
Rational Software A collection of software each priced with its own price.
SmartDraw 497$
StarUML 99$
Modelio Freeware
Edraw Max 495$
UMLet Freeware

 

Looking at the above list, it is very clear that this software are not in a specific price range. Some cost thousands of dollars while others are open source. Therefore, it is very important to identify the unique usability features available in each and every one of the above tools.

 

Usability

 

In my opinion, this is the most important criteria to consider when selecting a CASE tool. By usability I mean the number of features integrated within the software. For this also, a chart is easier to comprehend than a mere description.

 

Feature iGrafx MetaEdit+ MS Visio Omnigraffle Rational Software SmartDraw StarUML Modelio EdrawMax UMLet
Data Flow Diagramming
ER Diagramming
Workflow Diagramming
Object- Oriented diagramming
Data Dictionary × × ×
Business rule adoption × × ×
Analysis tools × × × × × × × ×
Code Generation × × × × ×
Form generation × × × × × ×
Report Generation × × × ×
Document Generation × × × ×
Import and Export Utilities × ×
Program Coding × × × × ×
Testing × × × × ×

 

Considering the above table, we can see that Meta Edit+ and Rational Rose are the best choices in terms of usability and feature support. In fact, considering the price tags and other features, we can select Rational Rose to be a real winner here without any doubt.

 

Effectiveness

 

Effectiveness means the ability to produce the desired output. This criterion is also based on the user requirements and the available features of the alleged software. If the desired output is graphs and diagrams, the choice will be MS Visio due to its simplicity and low price tag. But if the user requires features like code generation, program coding and testing, the choice would be Rational Rose or Meta Edit+.

A clear winner cannot be declared here without a list of requirements but with Rational software, you can output almost anything. Therefore, in terms of effectiveness, rational software comes first. But to use rational software, you will have to use much software in total. For example, they have separate software for graphing and coding. That is a reason to consider It as not as effective as Meta Edit+.

In Meta Edit +, you get many options as per the above table and the only options that lack are analysis tools. But you can export to many different tools to get your analytics. It is far more effective than using different software for many features. On that basis, it is clear that Meta Edit+ can be taken as the winner here.

 

Reliability

 

Reliability is how much you can rely on the software and its developers and how well it performs the tasks plus the total performance of the tool.  According to some entrepreneurs and some software designers, Rational Software was the ideal choice for a CASE tool. (“Which Tool Is Better for Software Designing”).

Microsoft Visio is also acceptable, but as it does not support code generation or testing, it is not ideal to spend money on that. As per the general opinion, as stated above, Rational Software is the most reliable CASE tool in the market.

 

Criterion iGrafx MetaEdit+ MS Visio Omnigraffle Rational Software SmartDraw StarUML Modelio EdrawMax UMLet
Complexity                  
Price
Usability                
Effectiveness                  
Reliability