Monday, September 4, 2017 2:21:14 PM

Introduction to PlantText, a powerful tool to draw UML diagrams

Ding Teck Song's picture

What is UML?

Before I go in to more details, let’s talk something general first. The Unified Modeling Language (UML) is a standardized modeling language enabling developers to specify, visualize, construct and document artifacts of a software system. Thus, UML makes these artifacts scalable, secure and robust in execution. UML is an important aspect involved in object-oriented software development. It uses graphic notation to create visual models of software systems.


How To Draw The UML Diagrams?

Okay. Enough talking about UML diagrams. Let’s discuss something more details. After we know what is UML diagrams, of course we want to know how we going to draw them right? Usually, the system analyst and developers are using various software application or online tools that enable them to draw those diagrams easily by click and drack the components they need and arrange it according to their needs to draw the diagram. Everything can be done easily by using the mouse. However, for those who can’t use the mouse or not good in using the mouse like the blind and visually impaired system analyst or software developers like us, it is still possible for us to draw the UML diagrams by using a tool named PlantText. Yes, you hear right. With PlantText, we can draw the UML diagrams by just using the keyboard. This is because, the  PlantText uses a text-based language called PlantUML to draw various UML diagrams. We can use PlantText to draw the following diagrams :

  • Sequence diagram
  • Usecase diagram
  • Class diagram
  • Activity diagram
  • Component diagram
  • State chart diagram
  • Object diagram
  • Deployment diagram 
  • Timing diagram 


What is PlantUML and how I am going to learn it?

After reading the above paragraph, a simple question might appear on your mind. What is PlantUML and how I am going to learn it? The answer is simple enough to be understood by any computer user. PlantUML is a text-based language that uses simple textual descriptions to draw UML diagrams and about how we can learn it, we can learn the basic feature and syntax of PlantUML by visit this page as well as by download this free ebook from this page.


How To Get Started?

After read the above paragraph, another question that might come to your mind is how I going to get started? Simply visit this page to start drawing any UML diagrams using the PlantUML. This page have a multiline text field that allows us to type the text to draw our diagrams. Please note that the text field might not very user friendly with the screen reader that you using. Therefore, consider to use the notepad or any text editor to write your command to draw the diagram first before copy and paste it in the multiline text field provided. Once you done, choose the “refresh” button in the page and the tool will generate the UML diagram for you. I also like to tell you that the tool will display the error message instead of the diagram if there is any syntax errors in your command. Unfortunately it will display the error message in the image form or unreadable form to the screen reader. Therefore, consider to get assistant from the sighted person around you or use any applications that can recognize text on the computer screen to help you.


Final Advise

Before you get started, I would like to advise you something for you to get started. It is not an easy job for us as a blind and visually impaired person to draw any diagram without a proper sight. However, it is still possible for us to do it if we are willing to spend time to learn it and always feel free to ask for assistant from the experts and the sighted persons around you.


That’s all for  now. Good luck and happy coding!