Monday, March 26, 2012

Going with the Flow

You can waste a lot of time on formatting. In The Power of Fancy Plain Text I said that I prefer plain text when possible and for a while I've been using Ascii Flow, a web-based tool, for making quick and dirty flowcharts and simple block diagrams that I can store in text documents too.

Here's a bit of a chart  I made recently to plot out some test scenarios for a timing-related issue I was investigating and wanted to share on our wiki. The blocks represent actions occurring over time and their relationship to a some significant times and events.

      t1                            t2
       +                             +
   +---|-----------------------------|------>  time
       |                             |
       |   +----+      +----+        |   +----+
E1     |   | A  |      | B  |        |   | C  |
       |   +----+      +----+        |   +----+
       |                             |
    +-----------------------------------------+
E9  |        V                                |
    +-----------------------------------------+
       |                             |
       | +----+                      | +----+  +  +----+      +----+
       | | W  |                      | | X  |  |  | Y  |      | Z  |
       | +----+                      | +----+  |  +----+      +----+
       |                             |         |
                                          external event

It took a couple of minutes to put together and now anybody can edit it easily without needing to fire up some other application and then save out an image that in turn has to be uploaded and can't be changed easily by the next person.
Image: http://flic.kr/p/8UkSQ3

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