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by Matt Daronco | 2016-03-23
Recall that in Java and other object oriented programming languages, objects are instantiated on the
heap. These objects represent instances in the computer's memory of some accessible class.
These objects invoke the logic that is embedded within its class's methods. As such, they essentially govern the action of the program, not merely the underlying data abstractions.
Objects also do not necessarily persist in memory during the entire time the program is running. For example, an object of a
Bank class may send a message (e.g.
getAmount()) to another object of a class called
Check. Once this task is complete, the
Bank object may no longer be required for the execution of the program, so
the Java compiler (JVM) will remove it from the heap (memory).
Objects are essentially data structures stored in the computer's internal hardware with some specific location (pointer)
that the computer can reference to perform tasks. The object's behavior is governed by its class's functions. For example, a
Bicycle class may require a specific threshold of bytes in order to store two
double variables in the hardware's registers,
such as some bicycle's
mass attributes. These attributes are stored as variables whose values can be overwritten according to functions tied with the object's pointer. One such function might calculate the projected
distance a bicycle with a particular
mass might travel over some period of
time, etc. Since all of these objects are dynamic by nature and represent the practical behavior of the underlying computer hardware, it becomes greatly beneficial to use sequence diagrams that graphically depict the following to non-technical clients:
When the object actually exists in memory
Which objects communicate to each other (transmit signals along the wire)
Which objects receive signals and which objects send signals
Let's take a look at a simple example. Assume we have three Java classes written, namely
CheckingAccount, all of which have objects
instantiated in the
main() procedure. These objects represent instances of their respective classes (we may want to create more than one
Bank, etc). The sequence diagram for a Java program that handles banking transactions may be constructed in Visual Paradigm UML as such:
In the sequence diagram above, time progresses vertically downward, so the top of the diagram represents the start of the program and the bottom represents program termination. There are three separate classes involved with this program, however they do not all have the same life spans. The three rectangles at the top of the diagram represent each class's object that was instantiated on the heap by the Java virtual machine. Below is a short summary of the functionality provided by each class in this banking transaction program:
|Class Name||Object Name||Description||Method List|
||This class handles retrieving information from the
||This class stores the amount of a check and its number. It can report the value of the check to an object of the
||None. This class stores a
||This class stores data about the checking account, including its
||None. This class is responsible for storing data that can be accessed by the other two class's objects.|
The dashed lines that extend vertically downward from the class names at the top of the diagram represent the life cycles of each class's respective object.
Objects of each class exist where the vertical blue rectangles appear on top of the dashed lines. As you can see, for example, the
check class only persists for a temporary portion of the program (namely the beginning).
These diagrams greatly aid in visualizing the fact that class objects exist during different parts of the program. Different class objects don't necessarily co-exist at the same during the time span of the program.
Click to Take Quiz
For more information about using sequence diagrams to convey chronological concepts or technical communication in general, don't hesitate to contact us.
Antonio Santiago - 2016-10-19
Antonio Santiago - 2016-10-20
Matt Daronco - 2016-03-04
Matt Daronco - 2016-02-06
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