The sad state of free software

I need to draw a diagram. Few boxes with text inside connected with arrows also having some text on top of them.

Try 1: OpenOffice draw, version 2.0. It comes pretty close to what I need except for one very annoying feature: I can't control the placement of labels over the connectors. Which wouldn't be so bad if the text were placed intelligently. But it's not. If I have an L-shaped line with some label, the text is not over the horizontal or the vertical part. Instead, it is in the middle of the virtual rectangle obtained by filling out the opposite parallel lines of L. Or, if the connector is completely horizontal, it strikes through the text (the text should be obviously placed above the line).

Try 2: Someone suggested dia. I drag a predefined shape (square) on the drawing area, double-click it in order to put the label inside, and what happens? NOTHING! Thank you, I'm not going to manually select the text tool, enter text, center it over the shape and group it. For each box. What's worse, dia crashes when run as an X11 application over the network.

Try 3: I connect to the Windows 2003 terminal server installed at my institution, launch Microsoft Visio and continue my work from there.

My needs are simple, yet two popular free tools for drawing diagrams aren't able to satisfy them "out of the box", if at all.


Anonymous said...


Sorry you're having problems. I love Draw and think I have solutions.

With the first problem, press Return after you type the label and then at least the text will be above the line, not over the line and thus hard to read.

I have never had any problems with the second option; double-click in any square, circle, etc. and type and you'll see your text appear. No text box appears; it's just a blinking cursor. Choose Format > Character, Format > Text, or Format > Paragraph to format the text once you've typed it.

I agree that it would be nice to have a line label feature with specific control with connector lines, rather than just having that double-click feature.


Anonymous said...

Try ditaa and never go back :)