UI For Diagramming Software

When I want to write something, writing on computer is much more efficient than writing it with pen and paper. But then I want to throw in a quick diagram or a drawing to illustrate my point, and the situation is reversed. There’s nothing inherent in the technology that says it has to be that way. It’s simply because our user interfaces aren’t sophisticated enough … yet. These are some quickly fetched ideas for how this situation could be remedied.



Drawing Diagrams



All the diagramming tools I’ve seen still live by the old MacPaint paradigm. They’ll have me choose the tool first (“I want to draw a box”), then let me use it. There’s no reason that the software couldn’t try to guess from my drawing what I want to do, then adapt to that.





Here’s how I envision it: I grab my pen and start drawing: boxes, lines, point to where I want to write annotation and start typing. The software should be smart enough to figure out that I’m trying to draw a box and make it nice and rectangular. It should figure out when I’m trying to connect boxes with a line and make that line look nice and smooth. It should also let me quickly and easily move around my box and keep the lines connected right.





Of course the software’s guess will be wrong at times, so it should be transparent what it’s doing, and easy for me to correct it without breaking my rythm too much. I don’t have any good suggestions for this yet.



The Mouse Sucks for Drawing



The mouse is a really lame input device, especially for drawing. Humans have used pens for centuries, and we’re really good at controlling them with our fingertips, as opposed to mice, where we have to use the whole arm. Pens will hopefully become more ubiquitous soon.



References



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