In this short post, we’ll share a productivity tip to make your life easier when it comes to rapidly drawing simple “boxes-and-arrows” diagrams with Vexlio.
Effective visual communication will typically lend clarity and simplicity to complex topics. An effective technical diagram will therefore often represent large and complex concepts with simple, but clear, visual abstractions.
To that end, it’s surprising how often you may find yourself drawing simple “boxes-and-arrows” diagrams to illustrate a system diagram, a sequence of events, a flow diagram, and so on. Drawing boxes and arrows shouldn’t be difficult, and Vexlio offers a number of tools to make this process fast and easy for you.
Let’s look at two tools in particular: the “duplicate in grid” tool, and the “auto-line” tool.
The duplicate in grid tool takes the object or objects that you’ve selected in your drawing, and gives you several “handles” to drag to rapidly create duplicates of your objects along a line or a grid. This simple animation shows the duplicate in grid tool in action:
After you select the objects you want to duplicate and activating the duplicate in grid tool, dragging the handle to the right creates duplicates along a line. Then, dragging the handle down duplicates that line in another row, creating a grid of duplicates. Pressing the up/down/left/right arrow keys quickly adjusts the spacing between rows or columns. You can also set the number of rows and columns and adjust the spacing manually on the right-hand side of your Vexlio window under “Object Properties.”
The auto-line tool allows you to quickly draw straight horizontal or vertical lines connecting two objects in the drawing. It works by finding two snap points that have the same X or Y coordinate between two aligned objects, and connecting those two snap points with a line. Because the duplicate in grid tool creates perfectly aligned objects, it is a perfect match for the auto-line tool.
Activate the auto-line tool by clicking its icon in the left-hand tool palette (), or pressing its keyboard shortcut Y. With the auto-line tool activated, as you move your mouse over the grid of objects a faint preview line pops up, showing the lines that you can immediately draw by left-clicking your mouse:
If your mouse has a wheel, using the mouse wheel will alternate between the direction and type of arrowheads on the line preview:
Finally, just left-click the mouse on the preview line to create it:
Speeding up this sort of diagram “sketching” will allow you to spend more time on making sure your diagram is effective, and less time on figuring out how to draw it. You can have your simple boxes-and-arrows diagram done in just a few seconds by combining these two tools in Vexlio!
Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts with more productivity tips to use Vexlio for fast and easy diagramming.