Nifty tool

3 09 2005

I was hunting around for a tool that would let me do hierarchial diagrams, and auto-arrange them for me, doing path analysis along the way. I had used GraphViz before, and while the end result was okay, it was totally a batch-driven application. Build the data file, feed it into the tool, it generated a graphic.

Enter yEd, a Java application that is fully interactive, and allows dataset editing, node and edge property modification, save/load styles and graphic exports. The blurb on the website says:

yEd is a very powerful graph editor that is written entirely in the Java programming language. It can be used to quickly and effectively generate drawings and to apply automatic layouts to a range of different diagrams and networks. yEd is available as a free download with unrestricted functionality!

The best part about it is it’s a pure Java Swing application, and it’s set up via WebStart, so to install and run it just takes a single click on the Webstart logo, no matter if you’re on a Mac, Windows, or Linux platform.

The program does has it’s faults. It crashes on a fairly regular basis (just plain quits without an error message). I’ve become fond of the ‘save’ button in the toolbar – I click it regularly to make sure my work is up to date. Other than that, this is an OUTSTANDING demonstration of a thin, portable, webstart-enabled, WORA application.

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