Best software for drawing diagrams?
04-08-2019, 03:10 PM
Post: #1
 Jonathan Busby Member Posts: 241 Joined: Nov 2014
Best software for drawing diagrams?
I've been trying to add diagrams to this article, but, I've only been using ASCII, with the help of JaVE and the results are really ugly. I really need to use some type of vector graphics diagramming application as the concepts in the article are hard to express visually, especially when I'm limited to ASCII.

I need something in which one can fluidly and easily manipulate a combination of block diagrams, arrows, mathematical symbols, and other miscellaneous graphical constructs.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Jonathan

Aeternitas modo est. Longa non est, paene nil.
04-08-2019, 03:45 PM
Post: #2
 Jonathan Busby Member Posts: 241 Joined: Nov 2014
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?
I've tried Dia, LibreOffice Impress, and other applications, but they all fell short of supplying me with the complete set of connectors, symbols and other things I need to draw to create the diagrams I need.

Am I condemned to learn Inkscape to solve the above problems?

Jonathan

Aeternitas modo est. Longa non est, paene nil.
04-08-2019, 03:47 PM
Post: #3
 Maximilian Hohmann Senior Member Posts: 903 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?
Hello!

(04-08-2019 03:10 PM)Jonathan Busby Wrote:  I need something in which one can fluidly and easily manipulate a combination of block diagrams, arrows, mathematical symbols, and other miscellaneous graphical constructs.

For this kind of stuff I normally use a presentation program (which would be Keynote on the Mac or iPad, otherwise Powerpoint or the equivalent in OpenOffice or libre office). It has very powerful tools for creating diagrams, annotations, symbols, free-hand drawing, etc. Furthermore the result can be exported in a number of different formats.

But if you require truly scalable graphics in good quality (e.g. in ".svg" format) you will probaly find a dedicted program more useful. Like Adobe Illustrator or similar, but they tend to be quite expensive and require a lot of getting used to.

Regards
Max

NB:I made the diagram below with one hand - so to say - using Keynote while I was typing the text above with the other hand.

04-08-2019, 04:03 PM (This post was last modified: 04-08-2019 04:24 PM by Jonathan Busby.)
Post: #4
 Jonathan Busby Member Posts: 241 Joined: Nov 2014
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?
(04-08-2019 03:47 PM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote:  Hello!

(04-08-2019 03:10 PM)Jonathan Busby Wrote:  I need something in which one can fluidly and easily manipulate a combination of block diagrams, arrows, mathematical symbols, and other miscellaneous graphical constructs.

For this kind of stuff I normally use a presentation program (which would be Keynote on the Mac or iPad, otherwise

Well, I don't have a Mac, but the cost of buying one would be much greater than buying presentation software

Quote:Powerpoint or the equivalent in OpenOffice or libre office).

Well, I don't use Powerpoint and I've tried LibreOffice Impress but I found it to be clunky and not suited to what I want to draw.

Quote: It has very powerful tools for creating diagrams, annotations, symbols, free-hand drawing, etc. Furthermore the result can be exported in a number of different formats.

I really wish I had a Mac from the versatility of the software you describe above I have an iPhone X. I don't suppose Keynote runs on that?

Quote:But if you require truly scalable graphics in good quality (e.g. in ".svg" format) you will probaly find a dedicted program more useful. Like Adobe Illustrator or similar, but they tend to be quite expensive and require a lot of getting used to.

I think I'll have to use this solution, but I'll be using Inkscape, and, it's a real PITA to learn It's funny that I can easily navigate and do schematic capture in Xilinx's Vivado Design Suite, but Inkscape makes me want to pull my hair out I guess I'll just have to get used to it.

Quote:Regards
Max

NB:I made the diagram below with one hand - so to say - using Keynote while I was typing the text above with the other hand.

That's impressive to say the least! I really wish I had a Mac!

Regards,

Jonathan

EDIT : I also use Alibre Design Expert, and I've been using that since about 2013. Learning that was pretty straightforward as there was a set of tutorial videos that covered just about every aspect of the software. Plus, since it's CAD/CAM software, a lot of the concepts are intuitive and fall right out of one's understanding of one's design in the context of geometry.

Aeternitas modo est. Longa non est, paene nil.
04-08-2019, 06:19 PM
Post: #5
 Jonathan Busby Member Posts: 241 Joined: Nov 2014
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?
(04-08-2019 04:03 PM)Jonathan Busby Wrote:
Quote: It has very powerful tools for creating diagrams, annotations, symbols, free-hand drawing, etc. Furthermore the result can be exported in a number of different formats.

I really wish I had a Mac from the versatility of the software you describe above I have an iPhone X. I don't suppose Keynote runs on that?

Well, it turns out that Keynote comes pre-installed on the iPhone X But, it seems that the iPhone version is missing a lot of advanced features that you listed for the desktop and iPad app I think I'm just going to have to bite the proverbial bullet and use Inkscape :/

Regards,

Jonathan

Aeternitas modo est. Longa non est, paene nil.
04-08-2019, 06:41 PM
Post: #6
 striegel Member Posts: 223 Joined: May 2015
Inkscape is powerful and worth learning, Visio too
(04-08-2019 03:45 PM)Jonathan Busby Wrote:  ...condemned to learn Inkscape...
Inkscape is a good tool for me, but I was a Corel Draw user for many years. The interface for Inkscape was lifted directly from Corel Draw.

My work also provides me with licensing for Microsoft Visio, which is very well suited to this type of diagramming.

Alan
04-08-2019, 07:20 PM
Post: #7
 rprosperi Senior Member Posts: 5,022 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?
If ASCII art is sufficiently detailed to portray your images, then consider using this website, which provides a dedicated draw program for creating ASCII art, with objects (squares, arrows, etc.), an eraser, text boxes, etc. It's much easier to use than explain as I've not seen a tool like this before.

http://asciiflow.com/

When you later upload you 'art' you should sure to either wrap it in code blocks, or manually select a fixed-pitch font to preserve the uniform character width so the images retain their fixed columns.

Not as good a result as a dedicated drawing program for sure, but it is free, trivial to use and easier to paste into posts than inserting image files.

--Bob Prosperi
04-08-2019, 08:21 PM (This post was last modified: 04-08-2019 08:57 PM by Massimo Gnerucci.)
Post: #8
 Massimo Gnerucci Senior Member Posts: 2,351 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?

Greetings,
Massimo

-+×÷ ↔ left is right and right is wrong
04-08-2019, 08:46 PM
Post: #9
 Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,928 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?
Visio would probably be my first pick, though it's not a cheap product these days.

But I was able to get pretty good results even with some ancient Windows 3.1 version running on my OmniBook 300, not that it was particularly fast running on a 20 MHz 386.
04-08-2019, 08:55 PM (This post was last modified: 04-08-2019 10:25 PM by Garth Wilson.)
Post: #10
 Garth Wilson Senior Member Posts: 470 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?
One I have bookmarked for making nice timing diagrams out of your plain text description is this one:
https://wavedrom.com/tutorial.html

I'm thinking of another one that takes your plain-text diagrams and makes really nice graphics; but although I thought I bookmarked it, I'm having trouble finding it right now. Hopefully I'll be able to find it and come back and edit this. [Edit: Try this topic: http://forum.6502.org/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3109 ]

04-08-2019, 11:28 PM
Post: #11
 rprosperi Senior Member Posts: 5,022 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?
(04-08-2019 08:21 PM)Massimo Gnerucci Wrote:  What about draw.io?

Excellent news, thanks Massimo!

As much of Visio as I'll even need again, web-based, free, works just like Visio, good quality printed output. I'll definitely use this. Cool!

Thanks again !

--Bob Prosperi
04-09-2019, 05:38 AM
Post: #12
 Massimo Gnerucci Senior Member Posts: 2,351 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?
(04-08-2019 11:28 PM)rprosperi Wrote:
(04-08-2019 08:21 PM)Massimo Gnerucci Wrote:  What about draw.io?

Excellent news, thanks Massimo!

As much of Visio as I'll even need again, web-based, free, works just like Visio, good quality printed output. I'll definitely use this. Cool!

Thanks again !

You're welcome, Bob.
I never saw it before yesterday, but it caught me for the very same reasons. And you can also use it as a Chrome extension or install it on your computer.

Greetings,
Massimo

-+×÷ ↔ left is right and right is wrong
04-09-2019, 03:16 PM
Post: #13
 Jonathan Busby Member Posts: 241 Joined: Nov 2014
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?
(04-08-2019 08:21 PM)Massimo Gnerucci Wrote:  What about draw.io?

[snip]

Thanks so much! This is almost exactly what I was looking for

Regards,

Jonathan

Aeternitas modo est. Longa non est, paene nil.
04-09-2019, 03:20 PM
Post: #14
 Jonathan Busby Member Posts: 241 Joined: Nov 2014
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?
(04-08-2019 08:55 PM)Garth Wilson Wrote:  One I have bookmarked for making nice timing diagrams out of your plain text description is this one:
https://wavedrom.com/tutorial.html

I'm thinking of another one that takes your plain-text diagrams and makes really nice graphics; but although I thought I bookmarked it, I'm having trouble finding it right now. Hopefully I'll be able to find it and come back and edit this. [Edit: Try this topic: http://forum.6502.org/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3109 ]

Thanks a lot for the interesting and helpful links I especially like the idea of "prettification" of ASCII diagrams with this

Regards,

Jonathan

Aeternitas modo est. Longa non est, paene nil.
04-09-2019, 03:31 PM
Post: #15
 Jonathan Busby Member Posts: 241 Joined: Nov 2014
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?
(04-08-2019 06:41 PM)striegel Wrote:
(04-08-2019 03:45 PM)Jonathan Busby Wrote:  ...condemned to learn Inkscape...
Inkscape is a good tool for me,

I didn't mean to imply that Inkscape is somehow inferior, but that it's overflowing with so many features with a UI that might not be intuitive for first time users, like me At least it's not as bad as Emacs ( Yes, I'm a VI / VIM fanboy )

Quote: but I was a Corel Draw user for many years. The interface for Inkscape was lifted directly from Corel Draw.

That's interesting. I guess the interface has redeeming value as it looks like a mess to me I suppose when you get used to it the interface starts to demonstrate its upsides.

Quote:My work also provides me with licensing for Microsoft Visio, which is very well suited to this type of diagramming.

I have a Windows machine, but I suppose that Visio costs many $$. In my experience with design software, in many areas including EE and CAD / CAM, the software is usually quite expensive costing upwards of 2.5K to 4K. Does Visio cost that much? Regards, Jonathan Aeternitas modo est. Longa non est, paene nil. 04-09-2019, 03:39 PM Post: #16  Jonathan Busby Member Posts: 241 Joined: Nov 2014 RE: Best software for drawing diagrams? (04-08-2019 07:20 PM)rprosperi Wrote: If ASCII art is sufficiently detailed to portray your images, ASCII art borderlines on sufficient for what I need to do. The problem is that it's very cumbersome. Quote: then consider using this website, which provides a dedicated draw program for creating ASCII art, with objects (squares, arrows, etc.), an eraser, text boxes, etc. It's much easier to use than explain as I've not seen a tool like this before. http://asciiflow.com/ Thanks for the tip I had already tried asciiflow a while ago and I didn't like it. The best ASCII art editor that I could find, in my opinion at least, is JaVE . Quote:When you later upload you 'art' you should sure to either wrap it in code blocks, or manually select a fixed-pitch font to preserve the uniform character width so the images retain their fixed columns. I learned this the hard way when I first started writing the article Non-breaking spaces are also a must Quote:Not as good a result as a dedicated drawing program for sure, but it is free, trivial to use and easier to paste into posts than inserting image files. Thanks for the info! Regards, Jonathan Aeternitas modo est. Longa non est, paene nil. 04-09-2019, 03:43 PM Post: #17  Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,928 Joined: Dec 2013 RE: Best software for drawing diagrams? (04-09-2019 03:31 PM)Jonathan Busby Wrote: I have a Windows machine, but I suppose that Visio costs many$$$. In my experience with design software, in many areas including EE and CAD / CAM, the software is usually quite expensive costing upwards of$2.5K to $4K. Does Visio cost that much? Regards, Jonathan Visio seems to be around the$200-500 range on Amazon, depending on edition and version.

Or you can go really old-school and grab one of the pre-Microsoft versions from WinWorldPC.
04-09-2019, 03:54 PM
Post: #18
 Jonathan Busby Member Posts: 241 Joined: Nov 2014
RE: Best software for drawing diagrams?
(04-08-2019 08:46 PM)Dave Britten Wrote:  Visio would probably be my first pick, though it's not a cheap product these days.

Microsoft's web site seems to indicate that Visio is subscription only, but according to this page, it looks like a standalone version is about $530, which, while expensive, is cheap compared to other design software. Still, I don't have$500+ to just drop anytime I want, unless it's for a good reason that can't be avoided

Quote:But I was able to get pretty good results even with some ancient Windows 3.1 version running on my OmniBook 300, not that it was particularly fast running on a 20 MHz 386.

HA! Retro If it runs on a 20MHz 386, then it would probably run on my Nokia N900 which has a 600MHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU, although I don't know how much the 386 emulator would slow things down

Regards,

Jonathan

Aeternitas modo est. Longa non est, paene nil.
04-09-2019, 09:16 PM
Post: #19
 striegel Member Posts: 223 Joined: May 2015
Visio pricing options
(04-09-2019 03:43 PM)Dave Britten Wrote:  Visio seems to be around the $200-500 range on Amazon, depending on edition and version. ... Microsoft offers Visio Online for$5.00 a month per user if you sign up for one year or $6.00 on a month-to-month basis. That's a version of Visio that works in your browser, not a desktop program. It's$15/month for the option to run the desktop version.

Alan
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