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Automating the Diagram Generation Process
« on: August 21, 2011, 04:11:26 am »
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Author : Tabinda Sarwar, Uzma Arif, Wajiha Habib, Samana Zehra
International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research Volume 2, Issue 6, June-2011
ISSN 2229-5518
Download Full Paper : PDF

Abstract— Diagrams are the key to modeling and designing software. These diagrams enable us to understand, visualize and communicate the concepts, user requirements and functionality that the software would support. Drawing diagrams or models manually and then modifying them later is time taking hence various software tools have been developed for automating this process. This paper discusses the existing tools and presents an algorithm for a software “Auto-Diagram Generator” (ADG) for generating diagrams which is better and more flexible than the existing ones. ADG allows users to generate Block diagrams, Flowcharts and ER diagrams by form-filling and by text selection. The algorithm is extended to generate ER diagrams building blocks (entities and attributes) by reading a database. Any diagramgeneration software is incomplete without providing a manual support for editing the generated diagrams.
Index Terms— Automation,  Block Diagram, Diagram Generation, Drag and Drop, ER Diagram, Flow Chart, Form Filling, Text Selection.
 
1   INTRODUCTION                                                                     
DIAGRAMS play a significant role in software analysis and design. Diagrams are not only a good way of communicating and clarifying customer requirements but they also help in designing and visualizing the target software to be developed. Examples of commonly used diagrams are flow charts, block diagrams, organizational chart for displaying the organizational structure, network diagram of an organization, ER diagrams,  diagrams that represents trend and relation-ships like bar chart, pie chart, graphs.
Among the above mentioned diagrams block dia-grams are very commonly used in software design, electronic design, hardware design etc.
“Block diagram is a diagram of a system, in which the principal parts or functions are represented by blocks connected by lines, that shows the relationships of the blocks” [1]. It captures high level details of a system and is not concerned with low level (implementation) details.
Another commonly use diagram, that is used to depict the steps in a process is the flow chart. A flow chart is a graphical or symbolic representation of a process. Each step in the process is represented by a different symbol and contains a short description of the process step. The flow chart symbols are linked together with arrows showing the process flow direction [2].
Flowcharts are used in analyzing, designing, docu-menting or managing a process or program in various fields [3].
In today’s business world, databases are of utmost importance, because they hold and represent data of an organization and Entity Relationship Modeling (ER modeling) is by far the most common way to express the analytical result of an early stage in the construction of a new database [4]. In software engineering ER diagrams are used to model data conceptually.
Because of the importance and frequent use, these are the three diagrams targeted by ADG and they can be generated in different ways (mentioned above), keeping in view the ease of use.
2   EXISTING DIAGRAM GENERATORS
Currently, there are many software available that gener-ate different types of diagrams ranging from business to technical. Taking into account the tools that generate flow charts, block diagram and ER diagram, most of these tools use the drag drop approach. Very few of them use the concept of reading a text file (based on a special syntax that represents the diagram specifications) and none of them use the form filling approach used by the auto diagram generator.
Moreover, there are usability issues with most of the existing tools and they are not very user friendly. Some softwares are so complex that people with little or no knowledge avoids them and instead prefer using simple softwares like Paint.
ADG is simple and user friendly as compared to the other tools and allows diagram generation by form filling, as form filling is one of the easiest way for a novice user to specify the diagram requirements.
3   SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE
As mentioned earlier user can interact with ADG in dif-ferent ways, for all of these ways the basic internal architecture of ADG remains the same (Figure 1). The “Diagram Generator and Editor” is the core component of this architecture. Another important component is the Database Access component that plays a vital role in generating diagram from database directly. The Document Handling Component performs document handling functions e.g. save, open, new, exit etc. the component for interacting with the printer, as indicated by its name, is responsible for printing of ADG’s documents.

3.1Diagram Generator and Editor
This component is responsible for generating diagram based on user inputs, and eventually when diagram is edited the same component is active. DGE uses three different algorithms two of them are presented below. The approaches for generating diagrams from form-filling, text selection and from database are based on this component.

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