Literate Modelling - 
Capturing Business Knowledge with the UML

Jim Arlow*, Wolfgang Emmerich+, John Quinn*
* British Airways Plc
TBE (E124)
Viscount Way
Hounslow, UK
jim.arlow at
+ Dept. of Computer Science,
University College London
Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT UK
We have found during several large UML projects at British Airways, that non-technical end-users, managers and business domain experts find it difficult to understand UML visual models. This leads to problems in requirement capture and review. To solve this problem, we have developed the technique of Literate Modelling. Literate Models are UML diagrams that are embedded in texts explaining the models. In that way end-users, managers and domain experts gain slight but useful understanding of the models, whilst object-oriented analysts see exactly and precisely how the models define business requirements and imperatives. We discuss some early experiences with Literate Modelling at British Airways where it was used extensively in their Enterprise Object Modelling initiative. We explain why Literate Modelling is viewed as one of the critical success factors for this significant project. Finally, we propose that Literate Modelling may be a valuable extension to many other object-oriented and non object-oriented visual modelling languages. 

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Updated on: 24/03/98
Wolfgang Emmerich