For large, legacy enterprise software projects, staring into a screen of pure source code isn’t always the best way to get a feel for the application’s architecture. Architexa, Monday, released a new version of its flagship tool, aimed at solving this problem. Architexa is a diagramming tool that can turn a large Java codebase into a comprehensible and navigable diagram of functionality and dependency.
Vineet Sinha, founder of Architexa, said he began working on the tool 10 years ago while at Microsoft. “I had a huge codebase to understand at Microsoft. There weren’t any tools to help me do this. The best tool, theoretically, would make diagrams, but the existing tools were all focused on designing large systems from scratch, as opposed to what I needed, which was to understand the code,” he said.
He began researching the creation of such a tool, so he went back to school. He received his Ph.D. from MIT on the topic, and in 2007, he started Architexa to promote and monetize the tool.
Architexa doesn’t just generate maps of code, said Sinha. Much of the time he spent getting his Ph.D. revolved around methods and techniques that would help turn mountains of code into smaller, more comprehensible molehills.
“It tries to detect modules based on directory structures and creates a layered architectural diagram from that,” he said.
“The second thing it does is class diagrams. We have class diagrams, but we realize it’s easy to get it very [cluttered], so we start with one point and explore around it. We’re focused on being able to build the diagram and being able move stuff around and explore.”
Sinha said that Architexa also plugs into Eclipse and can be used in a manner similar to the Eclipse Package Explorer. This means that developers writing code can highlight a snippet and have that portion of the architecture automatically shown in the diagram. This allows developers to work directly within the code while flipping back and forth to check what other areas of the application are affected by changes and functionality.
Sinha said that Architexa is currently priced at US$250 per developer per year, with a server-based offering priced at $450 per developer per year. The tool also includes sharing options, so a diagram can be quickly pushed onto the Web for others to view. He also said that his company is offering free versions to open-source projects.
For the future, Sinha hopes to add other languages to the tool, but for now, he said the goal is to get developers to fall in love with the tool, and to iterate as quickly as possible to include customer-driven features.