Sunday, 20 October 2013

Automatic Sequence Diagram Generation

As a developer or architect, you always need to draw some sequence diagrams to demonstrate or document your functionality. And of course, if you do this manually you have to spare much time for this activity. Just think about, what If sequence diagram is generated automatically and you get it free of cost. Your reaction would be ‘wow’ this is great. But the next question will be ‘how’. So, I am publishing this post to describe ‘how’.There are different open source tools which help to generate UML sequence diagrams. ‘Java Call Trace’ is such a tool that can generate UML sequence diagram based on reverse engineering.

Install ‘Java Call Trace’
  • Download the java call trace from here.
  • Extract its contents at your desired location.
How to Use ‘Java Call Trace’ to Generate Sequence Diagram

     To generate sequence diagram using Java call trace you have to follow below steps:
  • Define your filter in <javacalltracer>\Calltracer\filters.txt
This will generate sequence diagram only for the classes which are defined under given package. For example: com.mycom.example 
  • Capture call trace (as xml) of your application/program 
For JDK 1.5 and above, add the following JVM options and  execute your application/program.

-agentpath:[full-path-to-folder-of-dll]\calltracer5.dll=traceFile-[trace-file],filterFile-[filter-file],filterList-[filter|filter|...],outputType-[xml or text],usage-[controlled, uncontrolled] -Djava.library.path=[full-path-to-folder-of-dll] -Dcalltracerlib=calltracer5 

-agentpath:C:\calltracer\jvmti\calltracer5.dll=traceFile-C:\calltracer\call.trace,filterFile-C:\calltracer\filters.txt,outputType-xml,usage-uncontrolled -Djava.library.path=C:\calltracer\jvmti -Dcalltracerlib=calltracer5
  • Generate sequence diagram using call trace captured in first step
Once you have generated a XML output using the ‘calltracer’ tool you can use the ‘Calltrace2Seq tool’ to generate UML sequence diagram.

<javacalltracer>\Calltrace2Seq\src\ INPUTXMLFILE-C:\\test.xml OUTPUTFOLDER-C:\\ OUTPUTFILENAME-mysequencediagram

INPUTXMLFILE: This is the generated xml location.
OUTPUTFILENAME: This is the location where generated sequence diagram image is copied.

Note: The output generated by the ‘calltracer’ tool has some header information that will not allow it (the output) to be used directly as an input to the ‘Calltrace2Seq’ tool. You can remove the header from the output xml file and then use this file as input argument for ‘Calltrace2Seq’.

Generated Sample Sequence Diagram

Below diagram is generated using Java Call Trace. There are three classes ManagedBean, Service and DataAccess. Where ManagedBean is having main method which is calling Service's method and Service is calling DataAccess's method.

Java Call Trace Details

If you are interested to get more details about Java Call Trace you can refer below:



  1. I use a XML code to embed sequence diagrams to whereever I want. Used a online diagramming app called creately to draw diagrams then embedded to my code using iframes. Whatever I change in the diagrams changes my website now. Is your method only used for sequence diagrams only?

  2. Can you display/show the call trace(xml file ) obtained for the above Sequence diagram?