Archive for November, 2009

Geeking out with diagrams in ASCII

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Last week I discovered ditaa and I can’t quite leave it alone. If you don’t understand why creating flow charts in plain ASCII is awesome, stop reading now.

Basically, you can take something like the Hey Jude flow chart, marked up in ASCII and convert it into a proper version. If your face is doing this: O_o, seriously stop reading now.

I marked that last one up in JavE, which is fine for ASCII art but a bit laborious if you want to build a diagram. On the ditaa home page there’s a link to a screencast of the perl app, Asciio (App::Asciio on CPAN) which is almost perfect. With a couple of tweaks to the /setup/stencils/asciio file, changing all the corners to the ‘+’ character and then another tweak to setup/actions/ to automatically create flat txt and native asciio versions of the diagram, then calling ditaa in the background on the txt file to build a neat PNG version.

I now have a Visio-lite system that can create data flow diagrams suitable for both source code headers and also pasting into more formal documents. So… yeah. How was your week.

If anyone else is this nuts, let me know in the comments.