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Preprocessing

Some minor preprocessing capabilities are included in PlantUML, and available for all diagrams.

Those functionalities are very similar to the C language preprocessor, except that the special character # has been changed to the exclamation mark !.

 

 

Migration notes

The actual preprocessor is an update from some legacy preprocessor.

Even if some legacy features are still supported with the actual preprocessor, you should not use them any more (they might be removed in some long term future).

Please contact us if you have any issues.

 

 

Variable definition

Although this is not mandatory, we highly suggest that variable names start with a $. There are two types of data:

Variables created outside function are global, that is you can access them from everywhere (including from functions). You can emphasize this by using the optional global keyword when defining a variable.

@startuml
!$ab = "foo1"
!$cd = "foo2"
!global $ef = $ab + $cd

Alice -> Bob : $ab
Alice -> Bob : $cd
Alice -> Bob : $ef
@enduml

 

 

Conditions

@startuml
!$a = 10
!$ijk = "foo"
Alice -> Bob : A
!if ($ijk == "foo") && ($a+10>=4)
Alice -> Bob : yes
!else
Alice -> Bob : This should not appear
!endif
Alice -> Bob : B
@enduml

 

 

Void function

Example:

@startuml
!function msg($source, $destination)
$source --> $destination
!endfunction

!function init_class($name)
class $name {
$addCommonMethod()
}
!endfunction


!function $addCommonMethod()
  toString()
  hashCode()
!endfunction


init_class("foo1")
init_class("foo2")
msg("foo1", "foo2")
@enduml

Variables defined in functions are local. It means that the variable is destroyed when the function ends.

 

 

Return function

A return function does not output any text. It just define a function that you can call:

@startuml
!function $double($a)
!return $a + $a
!endfunction

Alice -> Bob : The double of 3 is $double(3)
@enduml

It is possible to shorten simple function definition in one line:

@startuml
!function $double($a) return $a + $a

Alice -> Bob : The double of 3 is $double(3)
Alice -> Bob : $double("This work also for strings.")
@enduml

As in void function, variable are local by default (they are destroyed when the function is exited). However, you can access to global variables from function. However, you can use the local keyword to create a local variable if ever a global variable exists with the same name.

@startuml
!function $dummy()
!local $ijk = "local"
Alice -> Bob : $ijk
!endfunction

!global $ijk = "foo"

Alice -> Bob : $ijk
$dummy()
Alice -> Bob : $ijk
@enduml

 

 

Default argument value

In both return and void functions, you can define default values for arguments.

@startuml
!function $inc($value, $step=1)
!return $value + $step
!endfunction

Alice -> Bob : Just one more $inc(3)
Alice -> Bob : Add two to three : $inc(3, 2)
@enduml

Only arguments at the end of the parameter list can have default values.

@startuml
!function defaulttest($x, $y="DefaultY", $z="DefaultZ")
note over Alice
  x = $x
  y = $y
  z = $z
end note
!endfunction

defaulttest(1, 2, 3)
defaulttest(1, 2)
defaulttest(1)
@enduml

 

 

Unquoted function

By default, you have to put quotes when you call a function. It is possible to use the unquoted keyword to indicate that a function does not require quotes for its arguments.

@startuml
!unquoted function id($text1, $text2="FOO") return $text1 + $text2

alice -> bob : id(aa)
alice -> bob : id(ab,cd)
@enduml

 

 

Including files or URL

Use the !include directive to include file in your diagram. Using URL, you can also include file from Internet/Intranet.

Imagine you have the very same class that appears in many diagrams. Instead of duplicating the description of this class, you can define a file that contains the description.

@startuml

!include List.iuml
List <|.. ArrayList
@enduml

File List.iuml

interface List
List : int size()
List : void clear()

The file List.iuml can be included in many diagrams, and any modification in this file will change all diagrams that include it.

You can also put several @startuml/@enduml text block in an included file and then specify which block you want to include adding !0 where 0 is the block number. The !0 notation denotes the first diagram.

For example, if you use !include foo.txt!1, the second @startuml/@enduml block within foo.txt will be included.

You can also put an id to some @startuml/@enduml text block in an included file using @startuml(id=MY_OWN_ID) syntax and then include the block adding !MY_OWN_ID when including the file, so using something like !include foo.txt!MY_OWN_ID.

By default, a file can only be included once. You can use !include_many instead of !include if you want to include some file several times. Note that there is also a !include_once directive that raises an error if a file is included several times.

 

 

Including Subpart

You can also use !startsub NAME and !endsub to indicate sections of text to include from other files using !includesub. For example:

file1.puml:

@startuml

A -> A : stuff1
!startsub BASIC
B -> B : stuff2
!endsub
C -> C : stuff3
!startsub BASIC
D -> D : stuff4
!endsub
@enduml

file1.puml would be rendered exactly as if it were:

@startuml

A -> A : stuff1
B -> B : stuff2
C -> C : stuff3
D -> D : stuff4
@enduml

However, this would also allow you to have another file2.puml like this:

file2.puml

@startuml

title this contains only B and D
!includesub file1.puml!BASIC
@enduml

This file would be rendered exactly as if:

@startuml

title this contains only B and D
B -> B : stuff2
D -> D : stuff4
@enduml

 

 

Builtin functions

Some functions are defined by default. Their name starts by %

Name Description Example Return
%strlen Calculate the length of a String %strlen("foo")3 in the example
%substr Extract a substring. Takes 2 or 3 arguments %substr("abcdef", 3, 2)"de" in the example
%strpos Search a substring in a string %strpos("abcdef", "ef") 4 (position of ef)
%intval Convert a String to Int %intval("42") 42
%file_exists Check if a file exists on the local filesystem %file_exists("c:/foo/dummy.txt")true if the file exists
%function_exists Check if a function exists %function_exists("$some_function")true if the function has been defined
%variable_exists Check if a variable exists %variable_exists("$my_variable")true if the variable has been defined exists
%set_variable_value Set a global variable %set_variable_value("$my_variable", "some_value") An empty string
%get_variable_value Retrieve some variable value %get_variable_value("$my_variable") the value of the variable
%getenv Retrieve environment variable value %getenv("OS") The value of OS variable
%dirpath Retrieve current dirpath %dirpath() Current path
%filename Retrieve current filename %filename() Current filename
%date Retrieve current date. You can provide an optional format for the date%date("yyyy.MM.dd at HH:mm") Current date
%true Return always true%true()true
%false Return always false%false()false
%not Return the logical negation of an expression %not(2+2==4)false in that example

 

 

Logging

You can use !log to add some log output when generating the diagram. This has no impact at all on the diagram itself. However, those logs are printed in the command line's output stream. This could be useful for debug purpose.

@startuml
!function bold($text)
!$result = "<b>"+ $text +"</b>"
!log Calling bold function with $text. The result is $result 
!return $result
!endfunction

Alice -> Bob : This is bold("bold")
Alice -> Bob : This is bold("a second call")
@enduml

 

 

Memory dump

You can use !memory_dump to dump the full content of the memory when generating the diagram. An optional string can be put after !memory_dump. This has no impact at all on the diagram itself. This could be useful for debug purpose.

@startuml
!function $inc($string)
!$val = %intval($string)
!log value is $val
!dump_memory
!return $val+1
!endfunction

Alice -> Bob : 4 $inc("3")
!unused = "foo"
!dump_memory EOF
@enduml

 

 

Assertion

You can put assertion in your diagram.

@startuml
Alice -> Bob : Hello
!assert %strpos("abcdef", "cd")==3 : "This always fail"
@enduml

 

 

Building custom library

It's possible to package a set of included files into a single .zip or .jar archive. This single zip/jar can then be imported into your diagram using !import directive.

Once the library has been imported, you can !include file from this single zip/jar.

Example:

@startuml

!import /path/to/customLibrary.zip
' This just adds "customLibrary.zip" in the search path

!include myFolder/myFile.iuml
' Assuming that myFolder/myFile.iuml is located somewhere
' either inside "customLibrary.zip" or on the local filesystem

...

 

 

Search path

You can specify the java property plantuml.include.path in the command line.

For example:

java -Dplantuml.include.path="c:/mydir" -jar plantuml.jar atest1.txt

Note the this -D option has to put before the -jar option. -D options after the -jar option will be used to define constants within plantuml preprocessor.

 

 

Argument concatenation

It is possible to append text to a macro argument using the ## syntax.

@startuml
!unquoted function COMP_TEXTGENCOMP(name)
[name] << Comp >>
interface Ifc << IfcType >> AS name##Ifc
name##Ifc - [name]
!endfunction

COMP_TEXTGENCOMP(dummy)
@enduml

 

 

Dynamic function invocation

You can dynamically invoke a void function using the special %invoke_void_func() void function. This function takes as first argument the name of the actual void function to be called. The following argument are copied to the called function.

For example, you can have:

@startuml
!function $go()
 Bob -> Alice : hello
!endfunction

!$wrapper = "$go"

%invoke_void_func($wrapper)
@enduml

For return functions, you can use the corresponding special function %call_user_func() :

@startuml
!function bold($text)
!return "<b>"+ $text +"</b>"
!endfunction

Alice -> Bob : %call_user_func("bold", "Hello") there
@enduml