BON Software Architecture Illustrator


There has long been a need for a good and widely available drawing tool supporting the BON notation.  Ever since the book describing the BON method was published in 1994, I have had requests from BON users all over the world asking for a simple way to draw nice-looking BON diagrams and have them included in system documentation.

The only tool with BON support available over the years  has been EiffelCase from Eiffel Software Inc, recently integrated into EiffelStudio (see  However, this tool is part of a full Eiffel development environment, which may be a bit too heavy for users who only want to communicate designs on paper and those unfortunate developers who do not have the option of using Eiffel as programming language for their systems.  Also, there is no support in EiffelStudio for dynamic diagrams.

The drawing tool

To remedy this, I have finally managed to create a Visio Solution for BON.  A Visio Solution is a set of graphical shapes whose look and behavior are tailored to a specific application area.  It uses Visio as underlying drawing engine but can hide virtually all details, enabling  users to simply combine familiar graphical elements by drag and drop to create the type of drawings supported by the Solution (in this case BON diagrams). 

Here is the BONsai manual (820 Kb) in pdf format and the BONsai Visio Solution (1.32 Mb) for Visio 2000/2002 and for Visio 5 bundled with the manual and a drawing example in a zip-file.  The current version is 1.4 with newly added support for graphical class interfaces.  The example drawing is the static diagram of the conference management system described in the first case study in "Seamless Object-Oriented Software Architecture", and the class interfaces on page 45 in the same book.  It can be viewed and compared to the original diagrams printed in the book (do not be mislead by the rather poor rendering on the screen by Acrobat Reader; the printed diagrams are high quality).

About Visio

If you are interested in learning more about Visio in general, "Microsoft Visio Version 2002 Inside Out", Nanette J. Eaton, Microsoft Press 2001 is a good reference.  For developing your own Solutions, the standard reference is "Developing Microsoft Visio Solutions", Microsoft Press 2001.  There is also a Visio Developer Center at MSDN

Aside The second volume mentioned above is an updated version of the earlier text "Developing Visio Solutions" by Visio Corporation, which used to be one of my favorite handbooks: a slim volume (1.7 cm thick, 0.74 kg, 460 pp) with thin paper and compact typesetting, perfect to read on the bus on your way to work.  It has now been transcribed by Microsoft (who bought Visio in 1999) into the usual hopeless PC-brick (4.4 cm thick, 1.4 kg, 660 pp) with thick paper and large point size, cumbersome on the bus let alone if you drop it on your toes, and all this for very little new substance.