Andy in the Cloud

From BBC Basic to and beyond…

Going Native with the Apex UML Tool and Tooling API!


Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 22.16.58 Over the last month or so, John M DanielsJames Loghry (a fellow MVP) and myself have been collaborating together in order to accomplish two things; firstly remove the need to utilise a Heroku backend for the Apex UML tool (i first launched for Dreamforce 2013). Secondly and importantly for the first objective, create an Apex wrapper around the Tooling API.

John and I first chatted about collaborating at Dreamforce 2013 to work on the Apex UML tool and move it forward. He later put forward the suggestion that we should consider utilising the Tooling API directly from Apex and do away with the Heroku code. We quickly spun up a branch to try this out, and quite quickly re-architected it to use Visualforce Remoting and started on the plumbing!

Meanwhile James and I had also started thinking about a Apex wrapper around the Tooling API, initially independently, but ultimately decided to join forces! The combination between these two initiatives and the three of us has thus far born excellent fruit, with an initial release of the Apex UML tool running totally native, powered by an early version of the Apex Tooling API…

Apex UML Tool

As before there is a managed package version of the tool for you to install, you can actually upgrade from v1.2 (the Heroku Canvas app based version) directly. Unfortunately if you have v1.2 installed, you will have to upgrade at this stage, as i inadvertently deleted the Connected App from my development org.

  1. Install the package from the install links section here.
  2. Ensure your Apex classes are compiled
  3. Assign the Apex UML permission set
  4. Go to Apex Classes page and click the Compile all classes link
  5. Navigate to the Apex UML page
  6. You will see a Remote Site setting message, follow it and then reload the page.
  7. From this point on the functionality and usage is currently, as per the introduction given here.

UPDATE: Step 6 is not required if you have My Domain enabled (since v1.7).


If your interested in ideas we have for future versions of the tool take a look here, ideas always welcome!

Powered by the Apex Tooling API

Initially both James and I had the same thought on building out an Apex wrapper around the Tooling API’s SOAP variant, using the WSDL2Apex tool. However while this approach works quite well for the Metadata API, the Tooling API’s makes extensive use of xsd:extension aka polymorphic XML, for example in the querying of its SObject’s and Symbol Table.

Unfortunately the fact is that the XML deserialiser does not know how to deserialise into different types or how to access base class members. So we reached for the more flexible JSON deserializer. James discovered a cunning combination of manual JSON parsing and typed de-serialisation to get things moving! I’ll leave him to go into more detail on this. You can also read a little more about the strategy decision on the GitHub repository here and current discussions here.

Please note the API is still work in progress,  while the Apex UML tool has given it quite a good shake down so far, keep in mind the API design is still forming. Here are a few examples, starting with code to create an Apex Class

// Create an Apex class in 5 lines!
ToolingAPI toolingAPI = new ToolingAPI();
ToolingAPI.ApexCLass newClass = new ToolingAPI.ApexClass();
newClass.Name = 'HelloWorld';
newClass.Body = 'public class HelloWorld { }';

This code queries the Symbol Table for a class and dumps the methods to the debug log…

		ToolingApi toolingAPI = new ToolingApi();
		List apexClasses = (List)
				'Select Name, SymbolTable ' +
				'From ApexClass ' +
				'Where Name = \'UmlService\'').records;
		ToolingApi.SymbolTable symbolTable = apexClasses[0].symbolTable;
        for(ToolingApi.Method method : symbolTable.methods)

The following is an updated version of a very early version of the API, retrieving a list of Custom Objects and Fields.

		// Constructs the Tooling API wrapper (default constructor uses user session Id)
		ToolingAPI toolingAPI = new ToolingAPI();

		// Query CustomObject object by DeveloperName (note no __c suffix required)
		List customObjects = (List)
			toolingAPI.query('Select Id, DeveloperName, NamespacePrefix From CustomObject Where DeveloperName = \'Test\'').records;

		// Query CustomField object by TableEnumOrId (use CustomObject Id not name for Custom Objects)
		ToolingAPI.CustomObject customObject = customObjects[0];
		Id customObjectId = customObject.Id;
		List customFields = (List)
			toolingAPI.query('Select Id, DeveloperName, NamespacePrefix, TableEnumOrId From CustomField Where TableEnumOrId = \'' + customObjectId + '\'').records;

		// Dump field names (reapply the __c suffix) and their Id's
		System.debug(customObject.DeveloperName + '__c : ' + customObject.Id);
		for(ToolingAPI.CustomField customField : customFields)
				customObject.DeveloperName + '__c.' +
				customField.DeveloperName + '__c : ' +

This code from the Apex UML tool starts a compilation of a given Apex class to later access external references from the ApexClassMember objects SymbolTable.

		// Delete any existing MetadataContainer?
		ToolingApi tooling = new ToolingApi();
		List containers = (List)
				'SELECT Id, Name FROM MetadataContainer WHERE Name = \'ApexNavigator\'').records;
		if(containers!=null &&  containers.size()>0)
			tooling.deleteSObject(ToolingAPI.SObjectType.MetadataContainer, containers[0].Id);

		// Create MetadataContainer
		ToolingAPI.MetadataContainer container = new ToolingAPI.MetadataContainer(); = 'ApexNavigator';
		ToolingAPI.SaveResult containerSaveResult = tooling.createSObject(container);
			throw makeException(containerSaveResult);
		Id containerId =;

		// Create ApexClassMember and associate them with the MetadataContainer
		ToolingAPI.ApexClassMember apexClassMember = new ToolingAPI.ApexClassMember();
		apexClassMember.Body = classes.get(className).Body;
		apexClassMember.ContentEntityId = classes.get(className).id;
		apexClassMember.MetadataContainerId = containerId;
		ToolingAPI.SaveResult apexClassMemberSaveResult = tooling.createSObject(apexClassMember);
			throw makeException(apexClassMemberSaveResult);

		// Create ContainerAysncRequest to deploy (check only) the Apex Classes and thus obtain the SymbolTable's
		ToolingAPI.ContainerAsyncRequest asyncRequest = new ToolingAPI.ContainerAsyncRequest();
		asyncRequest.metadataContainerId = containerId;
		asyncRequest.IsCheckOnly = true;
		ToolingAPI.SaveResult asyncRequestSaveResult = tooling.createSObject(asyncRequest);
			throw makeException(asyncRequestSaveResult);
		asyncRequest = ((List)
				'SELECT Id, State, MetadataContainerId, CompilerErrors ' +
				'FROM ContainerAsyncRequest ' +
				'WHERE Id = \'' + asyncRequestSaveResult.Id + '\'').records)[0];

In later blogs between us, we will be extending the demo code and more cool stuff!

Next Steps

I’m looking forward to what happens next! Both initiatives have got off to a great start and we will keep incrementing. Certainly, its good to have the Apex UML tool to help drive the development and testing of the Apex Tooling API. Follow my fellow collaborators here @JohnDTheMaven and @dancinllama.

46 thoughts on “Going Native with the Apex UML Tool and Tooling API!

  1. I was unable to create an Apex Class using your wrapper in a managed package setting. I added a Github issue:

  2. I tried to use the Tooling API to generate Apex classes from a Managed Packaged but miserably failed as soon as I installed the managed packaged in a production org. There seems to be no chance to do that. D’oh! 😦
    Would you fantastic Metadata Api Wrapper be able to do that?

    • Yep i can confirm this is not supported recently did some work in a StackEchange question on it, I think yours? As regards metadata API, yes possible, see source for my declarative rollup tool for an example

  3. Pingback: Episode 3 – Andrew Fawcett on Enterprise Development | Code Coverage

  4. Hi Andrew,

    I was going through some Tooling API exercises and came across this thread of yours. Really got a great insight reading through the posts by you. However I am facing a trouble with the query as in the post above — “Select Name, SymbolTable From ApexClass”. This query works fine from a Java client and Tooling API WSDL but fails when I execute this query in Developer Console or Workbench with the following error:

    No such column ‘SymbolTable’ on entity ‘ApexClass’

    Would like to understand if you faced any similar issue or are aware of this scenario? Any help on this is really appreciated.


    • Thanks for your kind words, your most welcome. The SOQL only works from the Tooling API Query REST endpoint, you cannot use standard SOQL execution approaches, such as Apex with queries to Tooling API objects. The Apex Tooling API is a set of Apex wrapper classes around the REST based Tooling API. There is an example of running this query in the Apex UML tool which uses this library here, Hope this helps, let me know if not.

      • Thanks Andrew for the clarification and pointers. That really helps. However I was just curious about the SOQL consisting SymbolTable being passed from Tooling SOAP or REST client which worked perfectly fine and not from the Apex context. Is this in someway a restriction by Salesforce that SymbolTable field is identifiable only through SOAP or REST clients?

  5. Yeah this kind of custom field data type is not supported in Apex, which i think might be one of the reasons. The other most important one is likely the way the platform accesses the underlying ‘ApexClass’ physical Oracle table is different code paths from an Apex context than from an API context. It does appear that ApexClass objet in Apex and that in Tooling API is one and the same, but my gut feel is the similarity is only at the surface. 😉

  6. Compiled all classes and inserted a new site under remote site settings. I’m still getting a pop up error message “failed”. Using v1.5. Thanks for the tool. Helps when I’m cleaning up a system.

  7. Hi Andy

    I deployed the latest version of the Tooling API wrapper (, and then tried to run the code you posted in this blog to retrieve custom objects and custom fields. I cannot get it to run, it gives a syntax error: “unexpected token: List”. When I try and comment out the offending lines, I then get this error: “Invalid type: ToolingAPI.CustomObject”. Please advise.

    • Yes this blog code only applies to the old rest based version, this has been archived in a branch in the repo, extract the library from that branch and it should be fine

  8. Thanks Andy , is there a way to get this set up on one of our developer sandboxes

  9. Hi Andy,i have installed your app on my developer login but as soon as i am selecting the apex class in the left hand side i am getting the error for remote site settings,saying unauthorised end point,i have set up a custom domain i my org as i am usng lightening.
    Kindly suggest a way to cater this

  10. I was so excited to read about this package and looking forward to using it but alas my org is just too large I guess, getting ‘Collection size 3,617 exceeds maximum size of 1,000.’ on the Apex UML tab. Any ideas or am I just stuck?

  11. Hey Andy, just wanted to say ‘thanks’ for all your blogs and Salesforce packages, I have made use of several and learned a lot from many more.

    I was so excited to read about this package and looking forward to using it but alas my org is just too large I guess, getting ‘Collection size 3,617 exceeds maximum size of 1,000.’ on the Apex UML tab. Any ideas or am I just stuck?

  12. Getting “Bad id ” when selecting a class, even after adding remote site settings : (https://raghudev-dev-ed–

  13. I’m getting the same error as Raghu. Is there anything we can do to get around the ‘bad id’ error?


    • It must be a regression of some kind. Can you report it on the github repo as an issue and I can try to take a look

      • Hey Andrew,

        I’d experienced the same issue as David and Raghu. I wasn’t able to utilize ApexUML as a managed package, so I installed into a sandbox from the master branch. That resolved the issue I had with xxxx of 1000 objects, but only got me as far as the bad id problem.

        After a bit of poking around, I found a solution. The SymbolTable class defined in the ToolingAPI lists an id attribute. I simply removed that attribute and have been able to successfully utilize the tool. When debugging to see what the issue might be, I could see the “id” attribute was being populated with the Apex class name, not what I would have expected for an Id field.

        Thanks for a great base tool.

  14. Hi,

    I wanted to install the v1.5 tool to my developer sandbox and when I click on the link it automatically directs to example – (

    Is there way to install it in the developer sandbox (

    I am using Sublime and I downloaded the copy of the code from git hub.. and wanted to deploy it to the developer sandbox.. When I tried to create a project using mavensmate, it threw an error and I am seeing multiple folders (all empty) getting created… one inside another.. the folder name is apex-umlcanvas-master and there are now 7 folders created inside .. and I am unable to delete them 🙂

    Could you please provide some directions on how to create the Apex Uml in the developer sandbox ?

    Sajiv, Chennai, India

    • Change the above url to say

      • Thank you Andrew. It did install now. 🙂

        However, here is another question. After installation, I compiled the classes and then navigated to the ApexUML menu. I clicked on an item from the left pane and it did give a message. I followed that. created a Remote Site with the Remote Site name as ‘endpoint’.

        Here is the url.

        (Note abc points to my server number that is similar to cs44, cs43, cs77 etc).

        But, I don’t know why when I save it, it saves only upto Should it save the complete url?

        I thought maybe that is all. Then when I navigate to the ApexUML menu and click on a specific item on the left menu, it does not show up on the right side. Am I missing something ?

        And I think I need to do ‘Compile All classes’ again before coming to the ApexUML menu. Else, it will give bad id error.

        But then, either way, I do not see any action on the right side as expected. Could you please help?


      • It only needs the domain, so don’t worry about it not saving the full url. It may be reporting an error in the browsers JavaScript console, can you see anything?

  15. Yes Andrew.. In the console, I get this error

    Uncaught TypeError: Cannot read property ‘name’ of null
    at Object.constructUMLClass (uml?sfdc.tabName=01r0l0000008zhk&tsid=02u0l0000008dVj:262)
    at Visualforce.remoting.Manager.invokeAction.escape (uml?sfdc.tabName=01r0l0000008zhk&tsid=02u0l0000008dVj:108)
    at e.cb (VFRemote.js:sourcemap:133)
    at constructor.doCallback (VFRemote.js:sourcemap:99)
    at constructor.onData (VFRemote.js:sourcemap:94)
    at (VFRemote.js:sourcemap:75)
    at a (VFRemote.js:sourcemap:39)
    at VFRemote.js:sourcemap:40
    uml?sfdc.tabName=01r0l0000008zhk&tsid=02u0l0000008dVj:201 Uncaught TypeError: Cannot set property ‘symbolTable’ of undefined
    at Visualforce.remoting.Manager.invokeAction.escape (uml?sfdc.tabName=01r0l0000008zhk&tsid=02u0l0000008dVj:201)
    at e.cb (VFRemote.js:sourcemap:133)
    at constructor.doCallback (VFRemote.js:sourcemap:99)
    at constructor.onData (VFRemote.js:sourcemap:94)
    at (VFRemote.js:sourcemap:75)
    at a (VFRemote.js:sourcemap:39)
    at VFRemote.js:sourcemap:40

  16. Hi,

    How to fetch active workflow rules and active validation rules for each object using tooling API?

    • The WorkflowRule and ValidationRule objects each have a TableEnumOrId field you can filter on. Sadly you cannot filter by Active status, so you will have to do this in memory. In order to determine the TableEnumOrId value > For Standard objects this is simply the name of the object, e.g. ‘Account’, for custom object you need to query the CustomObject using DeveloperName. Hope this helps!

  17. Hi,

    I get this “bad Id at [Line: …, Column: …] while adding an item (by checking the checkbox in the panel on the left) onto the canvas. I installed version 1.5, which gave me an app by name ‘Apex UML’. I wasn’t able to do the post-installation steps. Firstly, I didn’t get the “Oops….error rendering…” message and the link to Configure. I wasn’t able to do the Profile settings too. Is there anything I’m missing out? Could you please help?


  18. Hi Andrew, your tool has worked without an issue in our sandbox, but it is only showing us Apex Classes no Apex Trigger (classes).

    Is there something we should to make it show triggers too?


    • It does not currently support apex triggers sorry. Great idea though. Feel free to add to the GitHub repo issues list. Glad you are having a good time with the tool otherwise.

  19. I’m receiving a timeout when using the tool. Perhaps the tooling api’s maturing over the past 2 years has rendered the tool needing some updates?

    • It could be that you have to many apex classes – also try hitting compile all on the apex classes page under setup

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