PlantUML is an open-source UML tool that allows to generate UML diagrams from a textual description. It is used to draw UML diagrams but is not a modeling tool itself. It does not prevent inconsistent diagrams from being created and requires the developer of the diagram content to understand UML and create proper UML content.

To create the UML diagrams, PlantUML has a meta-language defined that allows the diagram creator to describe the UML as a series of text statements which the graphics engine translates into standard UML notation. The graphics engine is written in Java and is distributed in both JAR and source code form. The 3rd-party package Graphviz is used for the graphics layout. Resulting diagrams can be output in PNG, SVG, EPS and ASCII Art.


UML diagrams are very useful in documentation. Many tools exist that allow to create UML diagrams using a WYSIWYG approach.

There are some drawbacks of this approach:

  • Diagram modifications can be difficult.
  • People can tend to focus on the layout (so that the diagrams looks good).
  • Updating documentation may be difficult. (Due to copy/paste images between tools).

PlantUML takes another approach, close to Wiki or Javadoc. The diagrams are included inside the documentation and the images are generated by the tool.

Since diagrams are just plain text, it's very easy:

  • To integrate them in Revision control,
  • To edit them,
  • To process them through scripting.

The disadvantage of this approach is the fact that every diagram is independent from others and that one needs to organize them in Documents to make up a whole Model.


PlantUML is mainly used as plugin in several other software applications, including:

It also can be used in standalone mode by executing the JAR file directly.


The current version (version 6627 as of 6-May-2011), can generate the following 7 UML diagram types:

Each diagram type has specific notation used to capture the aspects of that diagram type. The proper notation is captured in a PDF-based Language Reference Guide which defines all of the syntax required per diagram type.

Why use PlantUML

In small to medium sized Software projects PlantUML can

  • make UML design more efficient because of the easy-to-learn language and direct use in e.g. Word
  • enable programmers to enrich their code documentation by writing PlantUML code in their code and including it in the source code documentation

Another use of the PlantUML Language is in describing UML diagrams for blind people. Using PlantUML the describers can check that their textual Descriptions of the UML diagram contains all relevant information.


Some sites have noted the software:

External links

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article PlantUML, that was deleted or is being discussed for deletion, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Author(s): Walter Görlitz Search for "PlantUML" on Google
View Wikipedia's deletion log of "PlantUML"

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