Comments on Rational's Data Architect

Re-post from 2006. BL]Rational Rose is a product IBM got when they bought Rational who had, in turn, aquired the product themselves a few years earlier. IBM decided to "freeze" the Rose product with the 2003 version. While they have issued updates/patches the product remains a v.2003 product with no plans to develop any further. Rational Data Architect comes from a different product line. A defining quality of Rational Rose Enterprise was that in one product you got modeling for lots of languages - C++, Java, XML, SQL, etc. However, it could be easily argued that it didn't work with any of them particularly well. Also, expanding the product wasn't easy. There was a small cottage industry for this in the '90s but even when Rational tried to expose the Rose engine to Visual Basic programmers it never really took off. One of the weakest areas of Rose has always been the SQL, database and information engineering uses. Pretty good for C++ and Java but got trounced by competitors in the data tools markets. IBM decided to develop a set of new products based upon the Eclipse platform. One of these was Rational XDE for Eclipse - Rational Data Architect come from this heritage and not the Rose legacy product line. XDE was targetted to enterprise Java developers. IBM released a similar product, Rational XDE for Visual Studio, for developers working with .Net technology. IBM has continued to dissect its product line into smaller, more tightly focused products (away from the Rose "everything in one product") approach. Also to use Eclipse as the underlying product. They have also continued to expand their push as a business company (see the ads for Global Services). The Data Architect also reflects that push - you will notice the emphasis on business impact, information engineering, etc. as much as the DB2 integration. I've only dabbled in this set of tools - never used it for a commercial project. But I do have a few (not entirely ignorant) comments based on what I've seen and read. * Don't let your imagination get ahead of reality on the integration possible with the Requirements Management tool ReqPro. That integration is possible (so the marketing brochure isn't a lie) but may not be as robust as you hope. For example, I've only been able to setup integration with ReqPro at one level of abstraction (i.e. use cases) and the information shared at that touchpoint isn't very extensive.
* The ability to connect to data sources using JDBC certainly exposes most databases to Data Architect (since JDBC is available for so many products) but the breadth comes at the expense of depth. This is not a mechanism that will expose very detailed proprietary information about a database. To get in depth info from Oracle database you should probably use Oracle tools. But, for enterprise planning, that detail may not matter.
* The ability to change notation forms (IE or UML) is cool - something Rose, System Architect, etc. have always done but sort of handy nonetheless. I don't know if it can be customized.
* This product requires a lot of integration by eyeballs - at least to my mind. It has some really slick browsing capabilities but I don't see where it is that "smart" least not $5,000 per seat level of smart. You can color code and make table maps and make lots of charts....about what Visio Enterprise does for 1/5 the cost. Lots of the other features look slick but don't have much computer-assist in them. You even see this in how the product is described "...allowse users to...enables data professionals...enables the users the power...". Not lots of automation or smarts here but (and this is a huge "BUT") this isn't one of the products I really know very well so. There is a trial available. Last time I used the trial it was 15 day key and a 2nd key wouldn't work on a machine that had already used an older key. Hope any of this helps.

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