Automatic Layout and Label Management for UML Sequence Diagrams

Sequence diagrams belong to the most commonly used types of UML diagrams. There is research on desirable aesthetics, but to our knowledge no published layout algorithms, although several have been developed. This might be due to the rigid specifcation of sequence diagrams that seems to make laying them out quite easy. However, as we argue here, naive algorithms do not always produce desirable solutions. We present a layout algorithm that can compute the order of lifelines according to different optimization criteria. We also look at the problem of diagram size by introducing vertical compaction to sequence diagrams and by applying label management to compact them horizontally. We evaluate our methods with 50 real-world sequence diagrams.


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