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Disambiguation Text Boxes

If you believe that 2D or 3D graphical models reveal more about a system than pure 1D  text models, then graphics should be the  primary means of communication for complex structural and behavioral  information, no? Nevertheless, sequential text annotations can be an important secondary contributor to the transmission of meaning and understanding via graphics. A skillful combination of graphics plus text  is best, dontcha think?

Graphical notations, while important and useful, aren’t sufficient. They simply capture the end product of the design process as relationships between classes and objects. To reuse the design, we must also record the decisions, alternatives, and trade-offs that led to it. – The GoF

DTBs, or Disambiguation Text Boxes (a.k. a. notes, legends), can be used to help fill in some of the subtle gaps in understanding that graphics alone cannot disclose/convey to people who need to deeply understand the message/content of what you’re trying to say. DTBs can contain full sentences or just phrases and acronyms; whatever it takes to help your readers extract whatever meaning and understanding they need to do their jobs better. And you do want to help others, no?

The figures below show some examples of attempts to use DTBs to help readers understand and make meaning from graphics models. Of course, graphics and text models can’t and shouldn’t totally replace physical human-to-human interaction, but they can lessen the required frequency of face to face communication and reduce errors when face to face meetings do occur, right?

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