Monday, October 18, 2010

Activation bar in UML Sequence Diagrams

A lot of folks get confused between the "life-line" concept and "activation bar" concept in Sequence Diagrams.

The vertical lines drawn are called the lifeline of the object. When the object is no longer alive, then we can draw an 'X' at the bottom of the line. So why do we need an activation bar? I have seen a lot of architects choosing not to draw the activation bar to keep the diagrams simple.

The activation bar (a.k.a focus of control) represents the time the object is "active", i.e. doing some processing, computing something, waiting for a response from a sub-routine, etc. So it is possible to model multiple interactions in a single diagram - for e.g. a lifeline can have nultiple activation bars.