Indie Support Weeks: Monodraw

I know that #IndieSupportWeeks were supposedly a thing that ended in early 2020, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t continue shouting-out to the devs of apps we use everyday.

Late in 2020, @Splattack on the Zettelkasten Forum brought up Monodraw – think OmniGraffle, but with ASCII box art!

It produces beauties like this:

 │ NSTableView │────────────────────┐
 └─────────────┘                    │
        │                           │
        │                           │
        ▼                           ▼
┌───────────────┐          ┌─────────────────┐
│ NSTextStorage │◀─────────│ NSLayoutManager │
└───────────────┘          └─────────────────┘

If you can’t like to look at that, then I’m afraid we won’t be able to become friends :)

Now why should anyone care for diagrams using box drawing characters? It’s super useful in a plain text note-taking app environment to create semi-visual diagrams of hierarchies with clickable links!

Take this, for example:

│  [[201708031447]]  │
│ Role of NSTextView │
           │ controller for
 │ [[201708031442]] │
 │     Role of      │
 │ NSLayoutManager  │
           │ delegates to
 │ [[201708031445]]  │
 │ Typesetter drives │
 │      layout       │

Inside the boxes are double-bracketed wiki links that point to other notes in my Zettelkasten note archive. I can click on these if I view the note in The Archive!

The same box drawing diagram inside of The Archive, which makes wiki links clickable

It’s still a hack, but it’s a hack that makes it possible to create visual diagrams of things in your personal knowledge database. I think this is super rad. And now I have to find a way to make The Archive not use >1.0x line heights to avoid the ugly gaps in the box drawings.

I don’t use Monodraw for simple relationship diagrams only, though. I use it’s beautiful capabilities to make mockups of user interfaces I can share in plain text documents, too.

Mockup of an app window with annotation in Monodraw

The crazy part is that Monodraw is a one-time purchase at 8.99€, so it’s a steal if you like box drawing.

Check out the trial version to see how the interactions work: like all good diagram applications, lines attach to boxes by default and you can move the connections around when you move the connected boxes. But with Unicode box drawing characters. Sweet!

Really, go check out Monodraw!