trying architexa – an eclipse diagramming plugin

Architexa recently announced free licensing for individuals or teams of up to three.  I figured I’d run it against CodeRanch JForum to see what happens.


The software is an Eclipse plugin.  You get the link after registering.  A different update site is provided for Eclipse 3.X vs Juno (4.2).  I know some CodeRanch JForum developers use IntelliJ IDEA.  I don’t, so I can try it out.  The install was smooth.  I did get asked to confirm I trust the certificate within Eclipse.

One minor discrepancy.  The website says the software is free for individuals and teams of up to three developers.  The email confirming your email and welcoming you says the software is free for individuals and teams of up to four developers.  Moot point at the moment since I’m using it as an individual.  But Architexa should sync these up.

The email asks me to validate my email using a localhost link.  Same for editing my profile.  I can’t click on it to validate.  Hm.. I then went to the website and clicked the “forgot password” link.  This got an emailed password which I could use to validate in Eclipse itself.  Again the change password link is a localhost link.  After entering that password, Eclipse said my account was validated.  So while the links are broken, I’m in the tool.

Learning curve

Architexa asks which projects it should index.  I said just JForum.  Architexa provides good Eclipse “cheat sheets” to start out quickly.

Layered Diagram

This is like a dependency graph for packages.  Very nice.  If you mouse over, you see incoming (afferent) and outgoing (efferent) dependencies.  You can also drill down to see lower level packages.

Class Diagram

Right clicking a package opens the option to create a class diagram.  Two classes generated on top of each other, but I can drag them around (or highlight them or call other attention.)  It is easy to view the source code from the class diagram.  I don’t see how to view the method names/fields in the class diagram.  This info is available in the outline view in Eclipse already though so it isn’t critical.

Sequence Diagram

This appears to be an enhanced editor.  You drag classes into it and it shows calls.  This seems like more work to create.  I tried dragging a few items over and “add all” to get the calls.  Unfortunately calls aren’t so much within one or two classes so this didn’t help much.  I didn’t create anything worth taking a screenshot of.

Overall opinion

The package diagram caught my attention the most.  I really like the dependency arrows.  The class diagram provides a nice visualization as well.  The sequence diagram seems like it would be a good documentation aid if one was creating sequence diagrams for the project.  Which I’m not because we inherited the design of the code and I’m already familiar with the flow.  I think more value would come from sharing documents and using the tool as a team.

For a “real” (paid) project, I”m not sure I’d be so thrilled to keep my documentation in a proprietary tool. Even a free one.  But for getting a feel for the software on a product that is “documentation-lite” or “no documentation”, the layered (package) diagrams and class diagrams provide a nice way to jump in.  Assuming you are using Eclipse already of course.