As a Google Summer of Code participant, this summer I'll be working on a dependency graphing plugin, with Carlos Sanchez as mentor. See for background.

This page describes the necessary design to support interactive dependency graphs. This is on a separate page from the main Maven Diagram Maker page for now because it remains to be determined whether the UI should be merged, or if there is even a common core of classes to use.

Use Cases

The maven-grafo-plugin will allow Maven users to visually explore a project's dependency structure and gain the necessary information to fix dependency problems and effectively refactor the hierarchy of dependencies.

Brett Porter identified the following uses:

Milos Kleint also identified:

To help manage larger graphs, the following UI tasks will also be possible:

User Interface

The UI is based around two goals in the grafo plugin, one to generate a file, one to display the UI:


Generate a file containing a dependency graph. Parameters:


Sample Value




File format, corresponds to a sink.that
generates a graph in String format.



Name of the scope, defaults to "compile".



Name of the file to save. Required.


If time permits, a Java applet will be created. This will be a
simplified version of the grafo:ui except that the graph source will be
an XML file, and parameters such as dependency scope and filters will be
specified via applet parameters. The applet will not incorporate a menu


Display the current project dependencies in a GUI window.

GUI: Main Window

The UI for the Java application will consist of a menu bar and a Prefuse frame. The menus are as follows:

File menu

Artifact menu:

Graph menu

Help menu:

The user may also right-click on an artifact in the graph to display the Artifact menu.

GUI: Properties window

The properties window for an artifact identifies the following in a
dialog box with a Close button:

Class Design

A dependency graph is essentially a directed graph of org.apache.maven.artifact.Artifact objects. A source/sink model is used so that any representation of the graph can be translated to any other representation. What follows are the model classes; the UI classes are low complexity and will be "as necessary" to implement the UI specified above.

The normal way to visualize the data will be to connect the Maven source to the Prefuse sink.  grafo:generate will connect the GraphML source to the user-specified sink.  Comparison will involve connecting Prefuse and GraphML sources to a Prefuse sink (to merge the data). 


The Artifact Graph Source presents artifacts to sinks.

registerSink(IArtifactGraphSink sink)
unregisterSink(IArtifactGraphSink sink)


This is an interface for dependency sinks, which are used to generate a
directed graph in a particular format for presentation.


Remove all nodes from the graph.

add(org.apache.maven.artifact.Artifact parent, org.apache.maven.artifact.Artifact child)

Add an edge from parent to child. The child node is created if itdoes not exist.

setDetaultProperty(String name, Object value)

Set a property on all Artifact nodes that are referenced in an add action.

unsetDefaultProperty(String name)

Stop setting a property on referenced nodes.

setProperty(Artifact artifact, String name, Object value)

Specify additional information about an artifact that was determined by the sink, for example whether the dependency is skipped for a version conflict, locked position on the graph, etc. Not all sources will set all properties.

setGraphProperty(String name, Object value)

Specify a property that applies to the graph as a whole

Object getGraph(String scope)

Return the graph for the specified scope. If scope is null, the entire graph is returned. The specific representation of the graph is particular to the sink.

void saveGraph(File outputFile)

Serialize the graph to the specified output file.

TBD: How do we know when processing is started/complete?


The graph sink registry maintains references to the sinks that can write meaningful file formats.

static void register(IArtifactGraphSink sink, String formatname, FileFilter fileFilter)

Register a sink. formatname is the short format name ("png"), and fileFilter is the corresponding FileFilter for use with a JFileChooser.


This source presents artifact dependencies identified during Maven's artifact resolution process.


This DependencySource is used to read in a GraphML file. 


This is used to create a GraphML file.


This source creates Artifact objects from a


This sink is used to create a of objects.