University of Hertfordshire

A Comparison of Empirical Study and Cognitive Dimensions Analysis in the Evaluation of UML Diagrams

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


  • 901776

    Accepted author manuscript, 182 KB, PDF document

  • M. Kutar
  • C. Britton
  • T. Barker
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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProcs of the 14th Workshop of the Psychology of Programming Interest Group (PPIG 14)
EditorsJ. Kuljis, L. Baldwin, R. Scoble
Publication statusPublished - 2002


It is important that all those who use representations of a system during the development process can clearly understand the representations that are used. Research has shown that structure plays an important role in whether a diagrammatic representation may be readily understood. In this paper we
present the results of a study where two different approaches were taken to the evaluation of two notations which form part of the UML diagram toolkit: sequence diagrams and collaboration diagrams. First, a theoretical investigation was carried out using the cognitive dimensions framework.
Second, an empirical study was carried out to investigate user understanding of such diagrams. The results of the two studies did not concur, with the theoretical approach supporting the original hypothesis that structure is an important factor in diagram comprehension, but the study providing no evidence to support this.

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