SUMLOW: Early design-stage sketching of UML diagrams on an E-whiteboard

Qi Chen, John Grundy, John Hosking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Most visual diagramming tools provide point-and-click construction of computer-drawn diagram elements using a conventional desktop computer and mouse. SUMLOW is a unified modelling language (UML) diagramming tool that uses an electronic whiteboard (E-whiteboard) and sketching-based user interface to support collaborative software design. SUMLOW allows designers to sketch UML constructs, mixing different UML diagram elements, diagram annotations, and hand-drawn text. A key novelty of the tool is the preservation of hand-drawn diagrams and support for manipulation of these sketches using pen-based actions. Sketched diagrams can be automatically 'formalized' into computer-recognized and -drawn UML diagrams and then exported to a third party CASE tool for further extension and use. We describe the motivation for SUMLOW, illustrate the use of the tool to sketch various UML diagram types, describe its key architecture abstractions and implementation approaches, and report on two evaluations of the toolset. We hope that our experiences will be useful for others developing sketching-based design tools or those looking to leverage pen-based interfaces in software applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-994
Number of pages34
JournalSoftware: Practice and Experience
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2008


  • CASE tools
  • E-whiteboards
  • Hand-drawn visual language recognition
  • Sketch-based user interfaces
  • Unified modelling language

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