ARCHITECTURE DIAGRAM CREATION

Generative AI on Architecture Diagram Creation : Part-2

Creating diagrams has become essential in today’s data-driven world, whether you’re visualizing cloud architectures, documenting processes, or mapping complex systems. Fortunately, a range of powerful tools makes this task easier than ever. From free, open-source options to advanced, collaborative platforms, these tools cater to various needs and preferences. Some are perfect for developers who prefer coding their diagrams, while others offer user-friendly interfaces for a more hands-on approach.

In this blog, we’ll explore the best diagramming tools available, highlighting their unique features and how they can simplify your workflow.

Prominent Tools and Approaches for Converting Text or Code into Software Architecture Diagrams.

DiagramGPT

  • DiagramGPT A web application that uses AI to create professional diagrams from text descriptions.
  • Availability: Free and open source, with additional features available on a paid platform.
  • Key Features:
    • Generates diagrams from text alone, including flow charts, sequence diagrams, user journey maps, and architecture diagrams.
    • Documentation: Generates diagrams to explain processes, architecture, flows, etc.
    • Fast diagram generation leveraging advanced AI.
    • Simple, text-based interface that requires no prior diagramming skills.
    • Includes icons for cloud architecture.
  • Limitation: Diagrams cannot be manually edited directly but can be modified using code and text.

Diagrams

Source : Diagrams (mingrammer.com)

  • Diagrams allow you to draw cloud system architectures using Python code.
  • Free and open source.
  • Best for developers who want to draw diagrams using popular cloud provider icons and styles quickly.
  • It includes features such as:
    • AWS, Azure, GCP, OpenStack, K8S and DigitalOcean icons.
    • It also supports On-Premise nodes, SaaS and major Programming frameworks and languages.
    • Generic technology and programming-related icons.
    • Includes icons for cloud architecture.
  • Limitation: Diagrams cannot be manually edited directly but can be modified using code and text.

Graphviz

  • Graphviz is an open source graph visualization software for representing structural information as diagrams of abstract graphs and networks.
  • Free and open source.
  • Best for developers trying to visualize large and complex graph-based information from code.
  • It includes features such as:
    • Custom shapes and line styles.
    • Style, color and font customization.
    • Automatic layout engine.
  • Limitations:
    • Lacks icons for representing cloud architecture.
    • Does not support manual edits; modifications must be made through digraph code.

Drawio

(Source: drawio.com)

  • Drawio (now known as http://diagrams.net ): A free and open source online diagram software for creating various types of diagrams including flowcharts, org charts, UML, ER, and network diagrams.
  • Uses and Features:
    • Keep your diagram data secure
    • No account necessary, allowing diagramming anywhere.
    • Integration with other software.
    • User-friendly diagram editor.
    • Advanced tools available (From Text, XML, PlantUML, Mermaid, SQL, CSV).
    • Supports a wide range of diagram types.
    • Includes cloud architecture icons.
    • Allows manual edits to diagrams.

Lucidchart

  • Lucidchart A web-based diagramming tool that facilitates visual collaboration on creating, revising, and sharing diagrams.
  • Cost: Free version available; also offers a paid subscription for advanced features.
  • Features:
    • Real-time collaboration allowing simultaneous work by multiple team members.
    • Data linking and conditional formatting for turning complex data into actionable insights.
    • Flowcharts for visualizing processes.
    • Includes cloud architecture icons.
    • Diagrams can be manually edited.

PlantUML

  • PlantUML A free and open-source tool for creating various types of diagrams using a simple, intuitive language.
  • Key Features:
    • Supports multiple UML diagram types (class, sequence, use case, activity).
    • Text-based descriptions for easy version control.
    • Design and architecture planning.
    • Outputs in PNG, SVG, and PDF formats.
  • Limitations:
    • No icons for cloud architecture.
    • Diagrams cannot be manually edited; modifications must be made via code.

Mermaid

Mermaid.live

  • Mermaid JavaScript-based diagramming tool that uses text and code to create visualizations.
  • Platform: Free and open source.
  • Uses:
    • Documentation: Visualizes workflows, software architectures, and data flows.
    • Presentations: Adds diagrams and interactive elements.
    • Project Management: Generates Gantt charts, flowcharts, and process diagrams.
    • Software Development: Models systems with UML and ER diagrams.
  • Key Features:
    • Simple markdown-like syntax.
    • Supports a variety of diagrams including flowcharts, sequence diagrams, Gantt charts, and more.
    • Includes some cloud architecture icons.
  • Limitation: Diagrams cannot be manually edited; modifications must be made through code.

Ilograph

ilograph

  • Ilograph An interactive diagramming tool tailored for engineers to document complex systems.
  • Cost: Free and open source.
  • Applications: Used for visualizing system architectures, modeling business processes, mapping dependencies, and providing interactive documentation; also aids in incident response and troubleshooting.
  • Features:
    • Interactive visualizations and hierarchical views.
    • Integration with data sources and customization of templates.
    • Includes cloud architecture icons.
  • Limitation: No manual edits; modifications must be made through code.

Terrastruct

  • D2 from Terrastruct A diagram scripting language designed to convert text into diagrams.
  • Cost: Free and open source, with a paid web platform option.
  • Best for developers who want to create flexible diagrams in code with auto-layout functionality.
  • Features:
    • TALA (Terrastruct Automatic Layout Algorithm) engine.
    • Supports SQL tables, class diagrams, and sequence diagrams.
    • Sketch-drawn diagram mode.
    • Cloud architecture icons available.
  • Limitations: Does not support manual edits; modifications must be made using code and text.

Structurizr

structurizer

  • Structurizr Diagrams as code platform, supporting creation of multiple diagrams from a single model.
  • Cost: Free open-source version and a paid web platform.
  • Best for technical people who want to use the C4 model with a DSL and check it into source control.
  • Features:
    • Uses Structurizr DSL to create diagrams.
    • Diagrams stored in source control.
    • Supports the C4 Model for software architecture.
    • Includes Architectural Decision Records within a documentation tool.
    • Provides cloud architecture icons.
  • Limitations: No manual edits possible; modifications must be made through code.

DiagrammingAI

  • Diagramming AI An AI-driven tool that uses GPT-based AI to instantly generate diagrams from text input.
  • Cost: Free and open source, with a paid web platform option.
  • Features:
    • AI-powered automated diagram creation and AI chat.
    • Seamless drawing and quick edit functionality.
    • Project-based diagram code storage with Mermaid and PlantUML support.
    • Flexible export options and editable features.
    • Conversion from URL to diagram and image to diagram.
    • Customizable color themes and diagram templates.
    • Includes cloud architecture icons.
  • Limitation: No manual edits; modifications must be made through code and text.

Creately

  • Creately A web-based diagramming tool suitable for creating visual models and facilitating collaboration on diagrams.
  • Cost: Free and open source; paid options available for enhanced web platform features.
  • Uses:
    • Crafting flowcharts, process diagrams, and organizational charts for business operations.
    • Designing mind maps and network diagrams for brainstorming and IT management.
    • Developing project management charts like Gantt charts for progress tracking.
  • Features:
    • User-friendly drag-and-drop interface with pre-built templates.
    • Cloud-based access with customization options and robust security measures.
    • Includes cloud architecture icons.
    • Diagrams are manually editable.

Miro

miro

  • Miro An online collaborative whiteboard platform designed for diagrams, mind maps, and flowcharts.
  • Use Case: Supports visual project management, brainstorming, and remote team collaboration.
  • Cost: Free with a paid web platform option.
  • Uses:
    • Facilitates collaborative brainstorming and idea organization.
    • Enables real-time remote teamwork with chat, video, and commenting features.
  • Features:
    • Infinite Canvas: Supports extensive diagrams without spatial restrictions.
    • Visual Tools and Templates: Offers sticky notes, shapes, media embedding, and a comprehensive template library.
    • Includes icons for cloud architecture.
    • Allows manual editing of diagrams.

ChatUML

  • ChatUML AI-assisted diagram generator that uses advanced AI algorithms for creating clear visuals.
  • Interface: Utilizes large language models with an intuitive chat UI to interact with PlantUML, reducing the need for manual coding.
  • Cost: Free and open source, with a paid web platform.
  • Capabilities: Generates a variety of UML diagrams such as class, sequence, use case, and activity diagrams, tailored to user specifications.
  • Limitations:
    • Lacks icons for cloud architecture.
    • Diagrams cannot be manually edited; modifications must be made through code and text.

Conclusion

In summary, the process of transforming raw web content into structured, editable diagrams involves web scraping, image processing, and AI-driven text conversion. Several tools are available for converting text or code into software architecture diagrams, each with unique features and limitations.

DiagramGPT and DiagrammingAI use AI to generate diagrams from text but do not support manual edits. Diagrams, PlantUML, Mermaid, Structurizr, and Terrastruct allow for diagram modifications using code. Drawio, Lucidchart, Creately, and Miro support manual edits and are ideal for real-time collaboration. Graphviz and Ilograph provide powerful visualization capabilities but lack support for cloud architecture icons.

Choosing the right tool depends on specific needs, such as the type of diagrams required, the necessity for real-time collaboration, and whether manual edits are essential.