Long gone are the days when you had to do all software designing planning with pencil and paper, it's known that bad design can impact the quality and maintainability of products, affecting time to market and long term profitability of a project.
The solution seems to be CASE and modeling tools which improve the design quality and help to implement design patterns with ease that in turn help to improve design quality, auto documentation and the shortening the development life cycles.
UML (Unified Modeling Language)
Since the late 80s and early 90s, the software engineering industry as a whole was in need of standardization, with the emergence and proliferation of many new competing software design methodologies, concepts, notations, terminologies, processes, and cultures associated with them, the need for unification was self evident by the sheer number of parallel developments. A need for a common ground on the representation of software design was badly needed and to archive it a standardization of geometrical figures, colors, and descriptions.
The UML (Unified Modeling Language) was specifically created to serve this purpose and integrates the concepts of Booch (Grady Booch is one of the original developers of UML and is recognized for his innovative work on software architecture, modeling, and software engineering processes), OMT, OOSE, Class-Relation and OOramand by fusing them into a single, common and widely usable modeling language tried to be the unifying force, introducing a standard notation that was designed to transcend programming languages, operating systems, application domains and the needed underlying semantics with which programmers could describe and communicate. With its adoption in November 1997 by the OMG (Object Management Group) and its support it has become an industry standard. Since then OMG has called for information on object-oriented methodologies, that might create a rigorous software modeling language. Many industry leaders had responded in earnest to help create the standard, the last version of UML (v2.0) was released in 2004.
UML is still widely used by the software industry and engineering community. In later days a new awareness has emerged (commonly called UML fever) that UML per se has limitations and is not a good tool for all jobs. Careful study on how and why it is used is needed to make it useful.