Tag Archives: Week-2

UML Class Diagram Arrows

Seeing how one of my CS classes just recently introduced me to UML class diagrams, I wanted to conduct some research on the formation and comprehension of the diagrams. I looked for blog posts that showed examples of the diagrams and how they would be written, since I like reading written explanations and visual representations.

I stumbled across a blog covering the different arrows used in the diagrams, as well as when and how they can be used. That blog can be accessed at https://www.gleek.io/blog/class-diagram-arrows.html.

The blog presents to us six different types of class diagram arrows: directed association, inheritance, composition, realization/implementation, aggregation, and dependency. I had already seen directed association, inheritance, and implementation arrows, but I had not yet familiarized myself with the others. I learned the following from the blog:

A composition arrow in a UML diagram does not have an actual arrowhead, but instead looks like a solid diamond at the end of a solid line. The solid diamond is at the sub-object end of the solid line, and indicates that the sub-object cannot exist without the container class. It can be shown using -<*>.

The aggregation arrow looks just like the composition arrow, except that the diamond is hollow/white. The aggregation arrow is used to show association between two classes, but the subclass can still exist without the super class. It is shown with -<>.

Dependency arrows have a thin arrowhead and a dashed line. They show that two elements depend on each other but the dependency is weaker than standard association. Making changes to the parent class will have an impact on the child class. It is shown with -.->.

This blog was a great source to understand the usage of different arrows for UML diagrams. It provided great examples of when to use aggregation and composition, and I now know to take those into account for when I will need to make my own UML class diagrams in the future. It was easy to understand how the relationship between a library class and a book class can use the aggregation arrow because books can still exist after they are borrowed from the library. It was also easy to see how the relationship between a shirt class and pocket class can be composition association because a shirt pocket would not exist without the shirt. I also think it was a nice touch for the blog to include a video on the page where it explains the arrows and shows how the examples would be typed up on gleek.io.

From the blog CS@Worcester – CS With Sarah by Sarah T and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.