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I found WebSequenceDiagrams.com this week and was able to create the UML sequence diagram I wanted fairly quickly.
You enter text like
Alice->Bob: Authentication Request Bob-->Alice: Authentication Response
and it draws the diagram. You can change the style of the diagram to something more reasonable than “napkin.” ;) Diagrams can be saved as PNG images or PDF documents. (I’d recommend keeping a copy of the script text as well.)
The help page is quite good; you can also click on the examples on the left to insert the equivalent text. An area at the bottom shows script errors.
# Comments are allowed (but undocumented),
as are blank lines.
The site is free, but advanced features and local hosting are available for a fee.
There are other tools with similar capabilities. (Greg, I think you were the first to show me one - what was that?) There are a few techniques from UML Distilled I’d like to see, but this tool was good enough for my purpose.
Update - April 4, 2011
The one Greg mentioned is Quick Sequence Diagram Editor.