Saturday, August 25, 2012

Promotion : Architexa

I am very much excited about a new development tool suite from a  MIT spin-off startup, Architexa! I am using it regularly and it's awesome. 

Architexa offers various tools for Java development. So far, I have tried their tool for generating UML diagrams. I know you must be thinking "What's new in that? There are thousands of tools which do the same.". But, this tool suite is developed with one particular goal. It helps to read and understand any legacy code quickly. Yes, all of us, the developers, inherit code. It might be the proprietary code or the open source one, but whatever be the case, we spend a good amount of time understanding the existing code. Architexa is helping us exactly there. 

I have used their eclipse plugin to generate class diagram, sequence diagram and layered diagram for various modules of approximately 10 year old large, complex,legacy code base. Believe me, it was quick and easy. I have used rational rose earlier. I Always felt that rational rose is a subject of it's own. While fixing a bug or developing a new feature, we often feel the need of some tool very quick and easy to adapt. Architexa does that!

IMO, following are the advantages of the Architexa tool suite over others:
  1. Quick to learn, designed brilliantly, within an hour or so anyone can learn the tool by his own. Few short videos and a brief documentation are available. You may like to go through them ONCE and that's it. You are ready to go.
  2. You can decide the complexity of each generated diagram. You decide the content based on need.
  3. Layered diagram : This is something new. At least, Architexa claims that no other tool offers this feature. I really loved it. It helps to visualize the dependencies between different packages, so that the cyclic/unwanted dependencies among the packages can be avoided at the initial stage.
  4. It's fast. Doesn't make your eclipse to hang.
  5. As mentioned earlier for individual users like you and me, it's free. 

BUT, yes, still there are some buts! 
  1. While generating the layered diagram, the tool takes good amount of time to find out dependencies between packages. It may vary between few seconds to few minutes depending on the size of the code base. 
  2. For a complex class diagram, sometimes it becomes difficult to follow the lines (relationships) between entities. User interface has some room for improvement. 
  3. Also, there are other minor issues (REAL BUGS!) which I am going to report in their user forum. For example, with eclipse helios (on Windows as well as Linux platform), I am not able to connect between two classes while creating a new class diagram.

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