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plantuml - drawing pictures with text

Gabriel Guzman
I'm a developer turned manager, father of 2, farmer and open source zealot.
・1 min read

Someone at work recently pointed me towards PlantUML, a really neat tool that takes a simple textual description like this:

me -> you: Say "Hello"
you ->me: Say "Hi" back
me -> you: Ask "Do you like cookies?"
you -> me: Reply "Of Course!"
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And turns it into a nice diagram, like this:

It supports a wide range of UML and non UML diagrams (sequence, class, state, object, etc) and is fairly easy to read in its textual form.

It's way easier than going into google draw, and making boxes and then drawing arrows and lining everything up. Just change your text file, and then re-render your image and you are good to go. I've been using this for modeling all kinds of things at work, and I don't think I'll ever go back!

PlantUML is opensource and it's integrated with a lot of the tools you probably already use (see: plantuml.com/running).

Discussion (5)

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Robert Morschel

It's great for including diagrams with your code, and is great for sequence diagrams, but I wouldn't use it for more complex communication diagrams where it starts to creak a bit.

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Ben Halpern

Yeah, I think this is a convenience tool to make the easy task easier. The complicated task is still probably pretty complicated.

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Gabriel Guzman Author

I've mostly been using it for sequence diagrams, and yes, it's is great for that! I haven't tried modeling anything very complex as of yet, but I'll see how that goes.

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Walker Harrison

Thanks for the quick demo Gabriel. I'm actually looking for a tool just like this and started a dev discuss to augment the process. PlantUML was one of the suggested tools.

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Ben Halpern

Cool!