Login | Register
My pages Projects Community openCollabNet

17.2.  Actor

An actor represents any external entity (human or machine) that interacts with the system, providing input, receiving output, or both.

Within the UML metamodel, actor is a sub-class of classifier.

The actor is represented by a “stick man” figure on the diagram (see Figure 17.1, “ Typical model elements on a use case diagram.).

17.2.1.  Actor Details Tabs

The details tabs that are active for actors are as follows.


Standard tab.


See Section 17.2.2, “ Actor Property Toolbar and Section 17.2.3, “ Property Fields For Actor below.


Standard tab. See Section 13.4, “ Documentation Tab.


Standard tab. The fill color is used for the stick man's head.


Standard tab. Usually, no code is provided for an actor, since it is external to the system.


Standard tab.

Tagged Values

Standard tab. In the UML metamodel, Actor has the following standard tagged values defined.

  • persistence (from the superclass, Classifier). Values transitory, indicating state is destroyed when an instance is destroyed or persistent, marking state is preserved when an instance is destroyed.


    Actors sit outside the system, and so their internal behavior is of little concern, and this tagged value is best ignored.

  • semantics (from the superclass, Classifier). The value is a specification of the semantics of the actor.

  • derived (from the superclass, ModelElement). Values true, meaning the actor is redundant -it can be formally derived from other elements, or false meaning it cannot.


    Derived actors have limited value, since they sit outside the system being designed. They may have their value in analysis to introduce useful names or concepts.


Standard tab for a Classifier.

17.2.2.  Actor Property Toolbar

Go up

Navigate up through the package structure of the model.

Add Actor

This creates a new actor within the model, (but not within the diagram), navigating immediately to the properties tab for that actor.


This method of creating a new actor may be confusing. It is much better to create an actor on the diagram.

New Reception

This creates a new reception within the model,(but not within the diagram), navigating immediately to the properties tab for that rception.


A reception is a declaration that the actor handles a signal, but the actual handling is specified by a state machine.


This deletes the selected actor from the model.


This is a deletion from the model not just the diagram. To delete an actor from the diagram, but keep it within the model, use the main menu Remove From Diagram (or press the Delete key).

17.2.3.  Property Fields For Actor


Text box. The name of the actor. The diagram shows this name below the stick man figure. Since an actor is a classifier, it would be conventional to Capitalize the first letter (and initial letters of any component words), e.g. RemoteSensor.


ArgoUML does not enforce any naming convention for actors


Text box with navigation button. Records the namespace for the actor. This is the package hierarchy.


Check box, with entries Abstract, Leaf and Root.

  • Abstract is used to declare that this actor cannot be instantiated, but must always be specialized.


    While actors can be specialized and generalized, it is not clear that an abstract actor has any meaning. Perhaps it might be used to indicate an actor that does not itself interact with a use case, but whose children do.

  • leaf indicates that this actor can have no further children, while Root indicates it is a top level actor with no parent.


Text area. Lists any actor that generalizes this actor.

Button 1 double click navigates to the generalization and opens its property tab.


Text box. Lists any specialized actor (i.e. for which this actor is a generalization. The specialized actors can communicate with the same use case instances as this actor.

Button 1 double click navigates to the generalization and opens its property tab.

Association Ends

Text area. Lists any association ends of associations connected to this actor.

Button 1 double click navigates to the selected entry.