OPM vs. UML - Experimenting with comprehension and construction of web application models

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Object-Process Methodology (OPM), which is a holistic approach to modeling and evolving systems, views objects and processes as two equally important entities that describe the system's structure and behavior in a single model. Unified Modeling Language (UML), which is the standard object-oriented modeling language for software systems, separates the system model into various aspects, each of which is represented in a different view (diagram type). The exponential growth of the Web and the progress of Internet-based architectures have set the stage for the proliferation of a variety of Web applications, which are classified as hybrids between hypermedia and information systems. Such applications require a modeling approach that is capable of clearly specifying aspects of their architecture, communication, and distributive nature. Since UML and OPM are two candidates for this task, this study has been designed to establish the level of comprehension and the quality of the constructed Web application models using each one of these two approaches. In the experiment we carried out, third year undergraduate information systems engineering students were asked to respond to comprehension and construction questions about two representative Web application models. The comprehension questions related to the system's structure, dynamics, and distribution aspects. The results suggest that OPM is better than UML in modeling the dynamics aspect of the Web applications. In specifying structure and distribution aspects, there were no significant differences. The results further suggest that the quality of the OPM models students built in the construction part was superior to that of the corresponding UML models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-80
Number of pages24
JournalEmpirical Software Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005


  • Functional design
  • IS development methodologies
  • Object-Process Methodology
  • Object-oriented design
  • Software development
  • Unified Modeling Language
  • Web applications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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