Along with the release of v6.0 of the IAN Symbol Libraries (see the blog announcement), IAN has developed a free online diagram creator. This tool allows users to create conceptual diagrams in their web browser without the need for expensive software.
The diagrammer connects directly to our symbol library database so that users can search for symbols by keywords, browse the albums, select from an IAN project symbol set, or work from their lightbox collection.
While it doesn’t have all the functionality of programs like Adobe Illustrator, it has all the vector editing tools necessary for creating publication quality conceptual diagrams.
List of key features:
- Direct access to the IAN Symbol Libraries
- Works on all platforms (PC, Mac, Linux) and all modern browsers
- Save to hard drive (SVG) for further editing in diagrammer or desktop software
- Save in SVG (vector) or export to PNG (raster) for publication
Despite not being as powerful as desktop software (yet), we believe it has some advantages:
- Simpler interface is less intimidating for first time vector users
- No download necessary so the diagrammer and symbol libraries are always up to date
- Larger thumbnails makes browsing easier
- Ability to find symbols through keyword searching is a big advantage for users. The lack of this functionality in Illustrator has long been a frustration for users.
Why are our libraries and diagrammer vector?
Vector is arguably the best format for illustrations, but it can be a difficult shift in thinking for users more familiar with raster drawing using Photoshop, or even Microsoft Paint. Initially it can seem quite confusing, with the need to close paths, and order layers of various overlapping shapes to create the desired image, but once you get the hang of it the advantages quickly become apparent. The ability to scale images infinitely without any loss of quality is a key feature, but the ease of editing and coloring shapes, and swapping of layers really defines vector drawing. Other advantages include smaller file size and the ability to easily convert to raster if needed – raster to vector is much more difficult.
We have prepared a video demo of the diagrammer in action. It certainly doesn’t cover all of its functionality, but should get you started on your way to making effective conceptual diagrams with the IAN Symbol Libraries.
Please note: the online diagrammer is still in early beta, so you will find some bugs and inconsistencies between browsers. Firefox currently gives the best all around experience. Please leave a comment letting us know how it worked for you.