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PlantUML Text Encoding


PlantUML defines a standardized way to encode diagram text description to a simple string of characters that contains only digits, letters, underscore and minus character. The goal of such an encoding is to facilitate communication of diagrams through URL (see server). This encoding includes compression to keep encoded strings as short as possible.

The encoded metadata is stored in the generated PNG, so the diagram source can be extracted from the diagram itself! (see server).

Compression Default Format

Compression is done using Deflate algorithm. We will add new compression algorithm in some future.


For example, the following uml text description:

Alice -> Bob: Authentication Request
Bob --> Alice: Authentication Response

is encoded as:

To achieve such an encoding, the text diagram is:

  1. Encoded in UTF-8
  2. Compressed using Deflate algorithm
  3. Reencoded in ASCII using a transformation close to base64

Why not use Base64?

The main reason is historic: this format was not created to be public at first. Now, it's too late to change it. However, the only difference is in character order.

Where in base64 the mapping array for values 0-63 is:


For PlantUML, the mapping array for values 0-63 is:


Compression result

The following diagram:

skinparam backgroundColor #EEEBDC
skinparam handwritten true

skinparam sequenceArrowColor DeepSkyBlue
skinparam sequenceActorBorderColor DeepSkyBlue
skinparam sequenceLifeLineBorderColor blue
skinparam sequenceLifeLineBackgroundColor #A9DCDF
skinparam sequenceParticipantBorderColor DeepSkyBlue
skinparam sequenceParticipantBackgroundColor DodgerBlue
skinparam sequenceParticipantFontName Impact
skinparam sequenceParticipantFontSize 17
skinparam sequenceParticipantFontColor #A9DCDF
skinparam sequenceActorBackgroundColor aqua
skinparam sequenceActorFontColor DeepSkyBlue
skinparam sequenceActorFontSize 17
skinparam sequenceActorFontName Aapex

actor User
participant "First Class" as ParticipantA
participant "Second Class" as ParticipantB
participant "Last Class" as ParticipantC

User -> ParticipantA: DoWork
activate ParticipantA

ParticipantA -> ParticipantB: Create Request
activate ParticipantB

ParticipantB -> ParticipantC: DoWork
activate ParticipantC
ParticipantC --> ParticipantB: WorkDone
destroy ParticipantC

ParticipantB --> ParticipantA: Request Created
deactivate ParticipantB

ParticipantA --> User: Done
deactivate ParticipantA

is compressed to a 428 string length using Deflate


You can use -encodeurl or -decodeurl in the command line flags to encode or decode the text.

You will find here some implementation of this encoder:

Simple HEX format

If you find the default format too complex, you can try the HEX format.

In that case, you just have to encode each characters in hexadecimal format.

For example :

Alice->Bob : I am using hex

will be turned into:


To denotate the use of HEX format, you must add ~h at the start of the data sent to PlantUML server.

Since there is no compression here, the URL will become very long when the diagram will grow up.

Please report any bugs to or here.
This website is still in beta testing.