Thoughts from the Wobbly Edge

Saturday, June 12, 2010

DiagramCreator in beta. Get yours NOW!

At SWG, we create diagrams for just about everything. Finally, I decided to write our own diagramming tool to help us. We've been using and updating this tool for quite some time now, and I think it's time to release a beta version of DiagramCreator, so others can try it out.
It's a very cool tool for making your own diagrams using basic English sentences. It is based on the Open Source GraphViz tool and, for the time being, is free to create your own diagrams on both Mac and PC.

Diagrams are created simply by typing a simple Noun, Verb, Noun sentence such as: Jack likes Jill This creates two Nodes, Jack and Jill with an Edge (arrow) between them with the word likes. There is no need to draw boxes or arrows or move things around to keep them from overlapping. Diagram Creator takes care of the diagram layout for you. All you need to concentrate on are the relationships between the Nouns and Verbs. Anytime the same Noun is used in a sentence, it will reference the existing Node. So, for instance we add a couple more sentences:

Jack doesn't like Sally
Sally likes Jack

We now have a three Node diagram with Jack having two Edges.

We can Group Jack and Jill and give it a label easily by just editing the Node properties of Jack and Jill.

As I mentioned, the killer feature is the simple fact these diagrams automatically create themselves. They optimize the positions of Nodes and Edges based upon rules, such as trying to keep Edges from crossing and spacing Nodes from top to bottom according to the order of the sentences.
Three things to know BEFORE YOU GET STARTED
  1. Before you do ANYTHING, be sure and CHECK FOR UPDATES, as the files below are VERY OUT OF DATE. 
  2.  You'll need to install the Open Source GraphViz package for all this to work. Don't worry, there are very clear instructions on how to do this in the HELP file. 
  3.  Read the HELP file. It covers everything you'll want to know, except for the Groups feature which has just been added, and demo'ed above. 
Here are the locations of the downloads. Unzip and store wherever you like. Because these are beta, they don't have the proper icons, launcher files, etc. yet. Don't forget to keep checking for updates! And, let me know if you run into any bugs or even how you like it.
Mac Version: http://db.tt/xCVEspl
PC Version: http://db.tt/qPpfVWK