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Text tool is causing stress (and other notes)

Thanks to your feedback, hear’s what I’m hearing:


Yes, the feedback and the bug reports and feature requests are really helpful. Many people were pretty jazzed with how quickly they could map out their ideas. But the one thing that’s causing significant stress is the text tool because…well…it’s just not behaving right. It’s difficult to do things easily. It disappears if you don’t add text right away. It doesn’t manage focus intuitively.

This is not good. This is especially not good in a program that is meant to make things easy.

Moving forward, in the next version of SimpleDiagrams (1.0.12) I plan to address two things:

  1. Improve text tool and make interaction more natural
  2. Add a mechanism to download new libraries from the SimpleDiagrams server

The second item will improve the expressiveness of SimpleDiagrams. One user wrote in and said that he liked the tool but that he needed cleaner looking diagram symbols to present to his client. Another wanted shapes for a specific domain.

Adding in downloadable libraries with different topics and styles will help a lot of you map your ideas and thoughts more accurately (and let me know what domains you’re working in can start creating some libraries for you).

Once those two items are ticked off, I want to address the following features in no particular order

  • Add Undo and Redo
  • Implement a better multi-select
  • Add in key + click combinations (e.g. shift-select)
  • Implement some more features that help diagram UX flows (starting with Jakob Linowski’s sketching notation )
  • Export to more formats (pdf? jpg?)
  • Export to more tools and services (Facebook?)
  • “Sticky” connectors

Please let me know what other features you’d find useful and which are needed ASAP!

4 Responses

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  1. OK – I really like the basic idea. The execution is really clever, easy to use and helps communicate ideas well. (See my Keynote story at the end.)

    Here are four missing features (or perhaps just ignorance on my part):

    1) I need to use fonts that match the art. I normally use Bradley Hand ITC because it looks natural, but is easy to read.

    2) I need multi-page diagrams. Kind of like a story board. I agree that the single page reduction case is powerful, but it is insufficient.

    3) The line tools needs to match the style of the art library. (Similar to fonts)

    4) I need to be able to export to PDF. Yes, I know I can export PNGs one at a time and create my own PDF, but this is an extra step.

    I have to communicate very complex ideas in simple ways to senior executives. I have been an executive officer at several public companies, but I remain an engineer at heart. I still program in Perl and I still write most of my own web code.

    I have been using the Apple Keynote application to do tasks similar to those you describe. I like Keynote, but I also like to look at new tools.

    Here is an example of something important I did recently in Keynote:

    I know that I could have made the file smaller, etc. but this was actually ‘free’ work done for a customer in a tight situation. My contract was up and they had gotten themselves into quite a fix. A sales person deep in the organization called me and begged for help. So I helped.

    In order to do the tasks well, I had to make dozens of decisions. Because it was their business and not mine, I had to give them rollback options and alternative courses. But make no mistake, this was a ‘customer down’ situation, and not of my making – so I fixed it.

    But then to communicate what I had done, I spent an hour in Keynote make the storyboard you see in the above link.

    I continue to struggle with the tradeoffs between separate documents (such as the basecamp or the google docs model) and single, integrated text, media, pictures, etc. I find that only engineers do well with the separate documents model. Most people really need the entire story in one ‘file’ – thus the need for PDF with everything inside.

    - Bluto [aka Grover Righter]

  2. I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

  3. admin said


    Thanks for the great comments! I’m hard at work on the next build (1.0.12), which has one new main feature (ability to load in new libraries) and a number of bug fixes. I’ll incorporate your comments into my list of bugs to fixes and feature to add…I hope the next version addresses at least some of them.

    As for multi-page diagrams and exporting to PDF, these are both features I’d really like to have, but I probably won’t get to them until a little later: I feel like there are some core UX problems (thanks Vito for the great feedback) that I need to fix first so the tool lives up to the simple-and-easy promise. Then I’ll be able to dig into these kids of more extensive features.

  4. Sure. Quote away! Simplediagrams is on twitter as @simplediagrams.

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