Example: Easy-maintenance flowchart

Published 2013-02-10 | Author: Brent Longborough

This TikZ example illustrates a number of techniques for making TikZ flowcharts easier to maintain:

  • Use of <on chain> and <on grid> to simplify positioning
  • Use of global <node distance> options to eliminate the need to specify individual inter-node distances
  • Use of <join> to reduce the need for references to node names
  • Use of <join by> styles to tailor specific connectors
  • Use of <coordinate> nodes to provide consistent layout for parallel flow lines
  • A method for consistent annotation of decision box exits
  • A technique for marking coordinate nodes (for layout debugging)

I encourage you to tinker at this file - add intermediate boxes, alter the global distance settings, and so on, to see how well (or ill!) it adapts.

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Easy-maintenance flowchart

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% Flowcharting techniques for easy maintenance
% Author: Brent Longborough
% =================================================
% Set up a few colours
% -------------------------------------------------
% Set up a new layer for the debugging marks, and make sure it is on
% top
% A macro for marking coordinates (specific to the coordinate naming
% scheme used here). Swap the following 2 definitions to deactivate
% marks.
    \node [nmark] at (c#2#1) {#2};
% -------------------------------------------------
% Start the picture
    >=triangle 60,              % Nice arrows; your taste may be different
    start chain=going below,    % General flow is top-to-bottom
    node distance=6mm and 60mm, % Global setup of box spacing
    every join/.style={norm},   % Default linetype for connecting boxes
% ------------------------------------------------- 
% A few box styles 
% <on chain> *and* <on grid> reduce the need for manual relative
% positioning of nodes
  base/.style={draw, on chain, on grid, align=center, minimum height=4ex},
  proc/.style={base, rectangle, text width=8em},
  test/.style={base, diamond, aspect=2, text width=5em},
  term/.style={proc, rounded corners},
  % coord node style is used for placing corners of connecting lines
  coord/.style={coordinate, on chain, on grid, node distance=6mm and 25mm},
  % nmark node style is used for coordinate debugging marks
  nmark/.style={draw, cyan, circle, font={\sffamily\bfseries}},
  % -------------------------------------------------
  % Connector line styles for different parts of the diagram
  norm/.style={->, draw, lcnorm},
  free/.style={->, draw, lcfree},
  cong/.style={->, draw, lccong},
% -------------------------------------------------
% Start by placing the nodes
\node [proc, densely dotted, it] (p0) {New trigger message thread};
% Use join to connect a node to the previous one 
\node [term, join]      {Trigger scheduler};
\node [proc, join] (p1) {Get quota $k > 1$};
\node [proc, join]      {Open queue};
\node [proc, join]      {Dispatch message};
\node [test, join] (t1) {Got msg?};
% No join for exits from test nodes - connections have more complex
% requirements
% We continue until all the blocks are positioned
\node [proc] (p2) {$k \mathbin{{-}{=}} 1$};
\node [proc, join] (p3) {Dispatch message};
\node [test, join] (t2) {Got msg?};
\node [test] (t3) {Capacity?};
\node [test] (t4) {$k \mathbin{{-}{=}} 1$};
% We position the next block explicitly as the first block in the
% second column.  The chain 'comes along with us'. The distance
% between columns has already been defined, so we don't need to
% specify it.
\node [proc, fill=lcfree!25, right=of p1] (p4) {Reset congestion};
\node [proc, join=by free] {Set \textsc{mq} wait flag};
\node [proc, join=by free] (p5) {Dispatch message};
\node [test, join=by free] (t5) {Got msg?};
\node [test] (t6) {Capacity?};
% Some more nodes specifically positioned (we could have avoided this,
% but try it and you'll see the result is ugly).
\node [test] (t7) [right=of t2] {$k \mathbin{{-}{=}} 1$};
\node [proc, fill=lccong!25, right=of t3] (p8) {Set congestion};
\node [proc, join=by cong, right=of t4] (p9) {Close queue};
\node [term, join] (p10) {Exit trigger message thread};
% -------------------------------------------------
% Now we place the coordinate nodes for the connectors with angles, or
% with annotations. We also mark them for debugging.
\node [coord, right=of t1] (c1)  {}; \cmark{1}   
\node [coord, right=of t3] (c3)  {}; \cmark{3}   
\node [coord, right=of t6] (c6)  {}; \cmark{6}   
\node [coord, right=of t7] (c7)  {}; \cmark{7}   
\node [coord, left=of t4]  (c4)  {}; \cmark{4}   
\node [coord, right=of t4] (c4r) {}; \cmark[r]{4}
\node [coord, left=of t7]  (c5)  {}; \cmark{5}   
% -------------------------------------------------
% A couple of boxes have annotations
\node [above=0mm of p4, it] {(Queue was empty)};
\node [above=0mm of p8, it] {(Queue was not empty)};
% -------------------------------------------------
% All the other connections come out of tests and need annotating
% First, the straight north-south connections. In each case, we first
% draw a path with a (consistently positioned) annotation node, then
% we draw the arrow itself.
\path (t1.south) to node [near start, xshift=1em] {$y$} (p2);
  \draw [*->,lcnorm] (t1.south) -- (p2);
\path (t2.south) to node [near start, xshift=1em] {$y$} (t3); 
  \draw [*->,lcnorm] (t2.south) -- (t3);
\path (t3.south) to node [near start, xshift=1em] {$y$} (t4); 
  \draw [*->,lcnorm] (t3.south) -- (t4);
\path (t5.south) to node [near start, xshift=1em] {$y$} (t6); 
  \draw [*->,lcfree] (t5.south) -- (t6);
\path (t6.south) to node [near start, xshift=1em] {$y$} (t7); 
  \draw [*->,lcfree] (t6.south) -- (t7); 
% ------------------------------------------------- 
% Now the straight east-west connections. To provide consistent
% positioning of the test exit annotations, we have positioned
% coordinates for the vertical part of the connectors. The annotation
% text is positioned on a path to the coordinate, and then the whole
% connector is drawn to its destination box.
\path (t3.east) to node [near start, yshift=1em] {$n$} (c3); 
  \draw [o->,lccong] (t3.east) -- (p8);
\path (t4.east) to node [yshift=-1em] {$k \leq 0$} (c4r); 
  \draw [o->,lcnorm] (t4.east) -- (p9);
% -------------------------------------------------
% Finally, the twisty connectors. Again, we place the annotation
% first, then draw the connector
\path (t1.east) to node [near start, yshift=1em] {$n$} (c1); 
  \draw [o->,lcfree] (t1.east) -- (c1) |- (p4);
\path (t2.east) -| node [very near start, yshift=1em] {$n$} (c1); 
  \draw [o->,lcfree] (t2.east) -| (c1);
\path (t4.west) to node [yshift=-1em] {$k>0$} (c4); 
  \draw [*->,lcnorm] (t4.west) -- (c4) |- (p3);
\path (t5.east) -| node [very near start, yshift=1em] {$n$} (c6); 
  \draw [o->,lcfree] (t5.east) -| (c6); 
\path (t6.east) to node [near start, yshift=1em] {$n$} (c6); 
  \draw [o->,lcfree] (t6.east) -| (c7); 
\path (t7.east) to node [yshift=-1em] {$k \leq 0$} (c7); 
  \draw [o->,lcfree] (t7.east) -- (c7)  |- (p9);
\path (t7.west) to node [yshift=-1em] {$k>0$} (c5); 
  \draw [*->,lcfree] (t7.west) -- (c5) |- (p5);
% -------------------------------------------------
% A last flourish which breaks all the rules
\draw [->,MediumPurple4, dotted, thick, shorten >=1mm]
  (p9.south) -- ++(5mm,-3mm)  -- ++(27mm,0) 
  |- node [black, near end, yshift=0.75em, it]
    {(When message + resources available)} (p0);
% -------------------------------------------------
% =================================================


  • #1 jks, May 20, 2013 at 6:17 a.m.
    % =================================================
    % Set up a few colours

    What are Green3, Blue3 or Red3?

  • #2 Brent Longborough, October 8, 2013 at 3:10 p.m.

    I'm really sorry for the delay in answering; I've only just seen your question.

    They are predefined colour names from the xcolors package, with the [x11names] option (here passed to xcolor from the document class).

    The manual is at http://mirrors.ctan.org/macros/latex/contrib/xcolor/xcolor.pdf , or in your TeX distro.

    Look for section 4.4: 'Colors via x11names option' [sic]

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