Dia: Draw Your Plans

by JL Beeken on 7-02-2010

DiaThis is yet another segment on organizing notes. If you need a way to draw them, try Dia.

One of the most irritating things I’ve been doing to waste computer-time is writing notes and schematics on small scraps of paper. I don’t know when this started and how long it’s gone on but it does seem like forever.

Dia

Once a week, when I can’t stand it anymore, I gather up all the scraps and lay them out in a large pattern and try to read what they say. I’ve never met a notebook in my life I could get along with. I always rip the pages out.

Every week, a good 25% of my notes are lost forever. Random digits and letters that could be area codes, price quotes, html color codes, product numbers. I have no idea.

The fact of it is, if I look at it closely, 95% of it could be typed or drawn directly into my computer. Why isn’t it? I don’t know. It’s like all habits; it’s unconscious.

I love paper and pens and I like to make outlines in diagram form rather than straight text. It’s easier to understand the meaning at a glance. Graphics programs are clumsy for this because you have to use your cursor as a pen and they’re not designed to do that.

If you have a graphics tablet you’re a step ahead. If not, there’s a program called Dia (which, by the way, also works with a graphics tablet, but you don’t have to.) As you can see, a wide range of shapes are available. And a text tool. You can also work in layers and colors if you want to. Click on a tool and start creating your diagram. It doesn’t take a manual.

It’s complete overkill for my simple needs but Dia is my new best habit. I’m weaning myself off the paper scraps by hiding my paper. I make my diagram (with or without the grid) and then I take a screenshot of it and paste it into EverNote 2. If you don’t have EverNote you can paste it somewhere else or just save the image file. EverNote 2 indexes the content of image files so that works out well.

Dia is also available as Dia Portable so that makes it easy. Download and unpack it to wherever you want. Or install it in your PortableApps menu.

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