A Collaboration defines a set of cooperating roles and their connectors. These are used to collectively illustrate a specific functionality, in a Composite Structure diagram. A Collaboration should specify only the roles and attributes required to accomplish a specific task or function. Although in practice a behavior and its roles could involve many tangential attributes and properties, isolating the primary roles and their requisites simplifies and clarifies the behavior, as well as providing for reuse. A Collaboration often implements a pattern to apply to various situations.
The following example illustrates an Install Collaboration, with three roles (Objects) connected as shown. The process for this Collaboration can be demonstrated by attaching an Interaction diagram (Sequence, Timing, Communication or Interaction Overview).
To understand referencing a Collaboration in a specific situation, see the Collaboration Occurrence topic.
Enterprise Architect supports a stereotyped Collaboration to represent a Business Use Case Realization in business modeling.
OMG UML Specification
The OMG UML specification (UML Superstructure Specification, v2.1.1, p. 171) states:
A collaboration describes a structure of collaborating elements (roles), each performing a specialized function, which collectively accomplish some desired functionality. Its primary purpose is to explain how a system works and, therefore, it typically only incorporates those aspects of reality that are deemed relevant to the explanation.