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Diagramming Application

Posted by neonpill 
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Diagramming Application
May 12, 2006 02:00PM
It just occurred to that there might be people doing this course using Paint or some other drawing program. I see nobody has discussed this topic before, so may I recommend Dia, a free (GPL) diagramming (ERD, DFD, etc) application, "similar to Visio".

Dia can be downloaded from
(Windows - 5mb download) or
(Debian, Red Hat or source)

I am using Dia for my diagrams and it works well for what we do here in this course.
Re: Diagramming Application
May 18, 2006 02:11PM

Nice link, thanks for posting

I am lucky enough to have access to Visio, but I just downloaded this DIA app and I must say looks very solid, quite impressed actually

I would even encourage UNISA to explore this and other Open license apps , especially to have them available or the links to them online at Osprey or My.Unisa as a service to students


Anonymous User
Re: Diagramming Application
May 19, 2006 03:28PM
Thanx for the link, I have been battling with these diagrams (Dont have Visio) and hopefully this will solve all my problems
avatar Re: Diagramming Application
May 19, 2006 09:09PM
If you're also studying INF207, the textbook comes with ArgoUML. I haven't used it except to play around when I first got the textbook (I'm using Visio).

Maybe there's someone else who's used it who can give a better opinion on it.
Re: Diagramming Application
May 22, 2006 03:15PM
Thanks for the suggestion! I use Poseidon for UMLs. But I see that ArgoUML has a C++ generator. Poseidon only has a Java generator but is a little easier to use I think. Still need time to play around with ArgoUML...

I'm going to try Dia out now for assignment03. Pretty chuffed that I don't have to do it in xFig, which is pretty awesome if you're drawing something you don't have a dedicated app for.

All 3 install and run perfectly on Gentoo, compiled out of portage.
Re: Diagramming Application
June 04, 2006 01:07PM
Hello for those with access to adsl and a couple hours can download visio pro 2007 beta free, for windows. (280mb)

Includes registration key & sofar it has worked very well, the options provided seem endless, and being ahead of the curve with trying out new products is always fun. There also other beta products available.


I am always partial to open source (floss)/(GNU) software but the Visio products seem to to be a standard.

Well worth a try and dude it's FREE, as in free beer not free thought.

I'll also have to try out ArgoUML...
Re: Diagramming Application
June 04, 2006 04:26PM
This might be a late post for those busy with assigment 3, but for future reference to use in future courses or in your current or future jobs, read on.

In support of the open source initiative (not related to OSI - just a phrase I use) I would recommend the use of OpenOffice Draw which comes with the OpenOffice Suite - freely available for Windows, Mac, Solaris and ofcourse Linux.

I've used OpenOffice for all my assignment submissions.

Follow these steps:
1. Draw you diagram in OpenOffice Draw.
2. Export as a .png file (you can export to many other types - jpg,gif,bmp)
3. Open OpenOffice Writer (much like MSWord - only better) and start compiling your assigment.
4. Insert your diagram wherever you need to.
5. Save.
6. Export your entire assignment as a PDF (pre-installed feature). A PDF is always safer for printing because it's a standard. You won't run into problems with style/format corruption when getting your assignment printed.

I would've added a link to an example diagram that I've drawn, but then again, they are for marks. Sorry.

Nevertheless, the lastest stable version (v2.0.2 ) can be found at:

(Windows: 91.2 Mb | WindowsJRE: 139.92 Mb | Linux: 119.62 Mb | Solaris (S): 121 Mb | Solaris (X86): 112 Mb | Mac: 135.6 Mb)

or get version 1.0.3 from:

(Windows 53Mb)

Note that it requires a Java Runtime Environment to be installed.

If you think that Unisa should supply this and much more free open source software (OSS) on CD (especially for these types of courses) post your message here!

------ Exerpt from the openoffice.org website-----

The powerful graphics package

Draw screenshot DRAW - from a quick sketch to a complex plan, DRAW gives you the tools to communicate with graphics and diagrams.

'Park' your most commonly used drawing tools around your screen ready for single-click access.

Use Styles and Formatting to put all your graphics styles at your finger tips.

Manipulate objects, rotate in two or three dimensions; the 3D controller puts spheres, rings, cubes, etc. at your disposal.

Arrange objects: group, ungroup, regroup, and edit objects while grouped. Sophisticated rendering let you create photorealistic images with your own texture, lighting effects, transparency, perspective, and so on.

Smart connectors make short work of flowcharts, organisation charts, network diagrams, etc. Define your own 'glue points' for connectors to 'stick' to.

Dimension lines automatically calculate and display linear dimensions as you draw.

Use the picture Gallery for clipart; create your own art and add it to the Gallery.

Save your graphics in OpenDocument format, the new international standard for office documents. This XML based format means you're not tied in to DRAW. You can access your graphics from any OpenDocument compliant software.

Import graphics from all common formats (including BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and WMF).

Use DRAW's free ability to create Flash (.swf) versions of your work.
Re: Diagramming Application
June 04, 2006 10:44PM
I think exporting to .pdf is great idea, regardless of what diagraming software is being used. Thanks. And pdfNow is on the TheOpenCD 3.0, bonus.

Re: Diagramming Application
June 07, 2006 12:14PM
Wow. Some good suggestions here.

I also use OOo (OpenOffice.org, if you don't know that already) to compile my assignments. I actually find that OpenOffice has more of the features I need than the Microsoft option (Calc > Excel, IMHO).

My procedure for assignment 3 was:
1-design diagrams in Dia, export to jpg (smaller)
2-create spreadsheets for Event-Responses
3-combine all deliverables using OOo Writer (word processor), and structure it nicely
4-export to PDF and upload.

Xfig looks really great, on the same level as OOo Draw (which is not really suited for more intensive Design phase stuff). Inkscape (http://inkscape.org/) is another free app that is can be used for informal design tasks (it's mainly a vector drawing tool but they recently added a very nifty connector object). I am very impressed with Poseidon, but it's clearly more of a heavy-duty solution specifically for UML.

What's the legality status of that Visio download?

PS: I see that there are applications for Dia that do code generation or databse structuring off a Dia diagram in the "Links" section of http://www.gnome.org/projects/dia/ . Very cool.
Re: Diagramming Application
June 07, 2006 04:18PM
I did the Visio beta download and it requested to activate on line. As I understand it, this is required by Microsoft to check for legality, hence if this succeeds (which it did), all is legal?
Re: Diagramming Application
June 07, 2006 04:37PM
Perhaps these channels are more appropriate... all the chinese probably made it look a little dodgy, lol.

Taken of the MS home site...http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/default.mspx

The 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2 is available via free download in English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish languages at http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview.

Expiration Date
All 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2 software has an expiration date of February 1, 2007. After expiration, 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2 will continue to work in a reduced functionality mode that limits your options and operations.

I'll propabably reinstall my old apps or have to buy it when 2007 rolls round...illegal software is so not cool, especially when there is so many free (as in freedom) applications availble, shame about thepiratesbay.org.

//Kevin266 to get you own serial number visit the MS link above or F it and use the one you got, lol. (it's legit) It looks like all the keys are the same, Similar to the lord of the Rings, one key to rule them all...
Re: Diagramming Application
June 08, 2006 11:34AM
I must say I've been using OpenOffice for my diagrams, and it works great. smiling smiley I've just downloaded the Dia software so I'll see how that works out...
avatar Re: Diagramming Application
June 08, 2006 06:26PM
I am not really a fan of anything that has to do with Java. Java's fine for small web applications but I'm spoilt when it comes to speed. I find that Java apps are way too slow compared to native compiled programmes.

As far as open source software is concerned, I haven't tried anything that has UNIX-OS counterparts simply because I don't know if any of them support OLE. I find it invaluable in my Office apps. I see from the above posts that people are expending a lot of PT getting things to work properly (draw-save-convert-paste-save). With Word and Visio, all I have to do is say Insert->Object->Visio Drawing and hey-presto I can edit everything from within my Word document.

If I want to make a change, it equally as easy. I just double-click the object and I can start editing. The other guys above will have to open their Drawing software, open their drawing file, edit it, save, convert to bitmap, copy, swap programmes, and paste to get the same result.

A disadvantage is that anybody that wants to read my documents will have to have Visio installed on their computer in order to see the Visio documents embedded within it. Lucky for me, UNISA used to have a deal with MS and used to ship Visio out to students doing INF207 (last done in 2004). Because of this, the assignments department has Visio installed on their computers so they can print my assignments properly.
Re: Diagramming Application
June 09, 2006 05:44PM
er, my thoughts exactly; I use the same method.

And if we all subscribe to occams razor then the simplest method is more often the most correct one, but we live in tech-ocrocy, so everyone is entitled to use whatever choice they make.

Imagine not having a choice about which software vendor to use, oh wait... winking smiley .

Re: Diagramming Application
June 14, 2006 08:30AM
I hope for your own sake you will soon become a fan of Java, because Java has over the last few years dominated enterprise development and will continue to do so in the next few years.

And your assumption that it is only good for small web apps is also very inacurate. Some of the biggest webpages in the world (Ebay, Amazon) has been developed in Java.
Anonymous User
Re: Diagramming Application
June 14, 2006 09:03AM
On the Java issue, it may be good for enterprise applications that
run on dedicated servers but it totally sucks for desktop apps (at least on my experiance of it). Whenever I've used an app developed in
Java, I've found them to very bad on performance e.g JBuilder.
As for the assignment diagrams, I've done all of them in MS word and
so far i've always acomplished what needs to be done, though it does
take a bit of time.
avatar Re: Diagramming Application
June 14, 2006 11:09AM
I've done some informal research concerning languages in commerce (I made appointments at large corporates and asked them what they use and what they are phasing out) and it looks like the trend is towards moving away from Java and towards C#. Not necessarily because C# is a better language but rather because of the more useful IDE. I've been told that what takes just a few minutes in Visual Studio takes over an hour in JBuilder. Apart from that, Visual Studio is about a third of the cost.

My personal oppinion, I don't like either language. I perfer having control over when my memory is freed or not. I'm not against the concept of garbage collection, I just want one that deletes my stuff immediately as apposed to scheduling it. Scheduling leads to a whole new set of management complications.

Another thing, both .NET and Java apps are not natively compiled thus there will always be a performance penalty compared to one compiled into machine language. With Java, it's interpreted by a virtual machine. With .NET, the object code is compiled on-the-fly as the programme is running. I don't know about anybody else but I believe that performance is still important and that not everybody has Big Blue in their home. I like the fact that my programmes run on a 486 (not that I've made anything big)
Re: Diagramming Application
June 14, 2006 11:47AM
The issues you have with Java are all valid issues, but I read somewhere that CPU power has made the performance penalties for Garbage Collection and on the fly compilation almost negligable.

I also agree with bini that for standalone apps Java might not be the best.

If would like to try a really powerful Java IDE stay away from JBuilder and rather try Eclipse (www.eclipse.org). I also use Visual Studio 2005 at work and the features does not even compare with Eclipse. Borland has also decided to stop development on JBuilder, because of the Eclipce tidal wave.

The problem with c and c++ is that most of the time you have to reinvent the wheel, whereas with Java there is vast amounts of open libraries for almost anything imaginable.
Re: Diagramming Application
June 14, 2006 04:31PM
I must agree with trautw about Eclipse - I have never used JBuilder (It think I tried without success once) but I have not found anything that I need that is not supported by Eclipse/WSAD. In addition, the ease of plug in development makes it a real winner. Before moving to fulltime Java development, I used VS for C++ dev and thought it was the greatest thing, but had to go back to it a while back to change something in an old app and was amazed at how limited it now seemed after using Eclipse!!

The Java/C/C++/C# debate seems to be a bit of a religious one. Personally I used to hold the above views that Java was slow etc. but that was when I only used it for small client GUI apps in Java 1.2/1.3. However, I now do enterprise development in J2SE1.5 and have completely changed my opinion. In fact there are studies done (they were listed in one of the forums last year but I forget which one) taht show Java to outperform C in several instances, and this was in fact attributed to the memory management and garbage collection - seems this is better than when the programmer tries to do it as the GC can optimise it for the system as a whole. In terms of JIT compilation, this is done on start up and then your app is running natiuve code, so the slow performance you see is when you do a Hello World type app where you start the app, do something quick and then stop it - even a Swing GUI which is started and used for a period of time seems very fast after the initial load. Thus the actual run time of an application on an app server once started up performs as well as natively coded apps. In addition, the development time saved by the use of existing API's in Java that solve common problems is also significnat.
Re: Diagramming Application
June 28, 2006 02:40PM
Heres a new one to check out... http://www.gliffy.com/

Visio Kiler I think not, nice concept though.

Gliffy is easy, free, and fun!
Diagramming in your web browser without downloading additional software
Similar to Visio, yet in your web browser
Desktop application feel in a web-based diagramming solution
Add collaborators to your work and watch it grow
Link to published Gliffy drawings from your blog or wiki
Create many types of diagrams:
UI wireframes
Floor plans
Network diagrams
Any simple drawing or diagram

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