Arranging nodes to make clear diagrams

The Diagram menu offers a rich set of options to help in arranging diagrams to be tidier and clearer.

Adjust node sizes

The Adjust size option tries to make node sizes more consistent using a range of criteria:

  1. Select a set of nodes by dragging a rectangle around them, or press ctrl+a to select all nodes in the diagram.
  2. Select Adjust size from the Diagram menu or press ctrl+T to adjust their sizes.
  3. If you don't like its first attempt, try again by pressing ctrl+T, and see if you like it better.

Adjust size cycles through options with different trade-offs considering the nodes' title (and picture, if any), font, word wraps, the default node size (set on the Diagram Style dialog), current height and width, edge alignments, groupings for nodes within a text or picture node, the locations of corners and edges relative to the grid (when Snap to grid is on), and aspect ratios.

You can resize several nodes by the same amount simultaneously:

  1. Select the nodes to resize.
  2. Resize one of the selected nodes by dragging one of its handles. It resizes all the other selected nodes similarly.

You can set several nodes to the same width, height, or size as the last node in a selected group of nodes -- the node with solid black selection handles. (Use shift+click on a node add it as the last node in the selection.) Use the Make Same Size submenu fromthe Diagram menu, and select sub-option:

  • Make Same Size Width (Press Ctrl+=) — Set their width to be the same as the last node.
  • Make Same Size Height — Set their height to be the same as the last node..
  • Make Same Size Both (Press =+=) — Set width and height to be the same as the last node..

Snap to the diagram grid

In Edit mode, diagrams show a 64 x 64 pixel grid. With Snap to grid (the default), each node snaps to have its center and corners on an 8x8 pixel grid (the dots on the 64x64 grid), whenever you add, move, or resize a node by dragging its corner box, or move node(s) using an arrow key. This helps you keep nodes aligned and with uniform sizes. It makes it easier to align nodes and arrows horizontally or vertically:

Chapter6 6.png

If you want to do finer arrangements or sizing by single pixel increments, you can ignore the grid even with Snap to grid on, by pressing the shift key as you drag a node, node corner, or move it with an arrow key.

To turn off the snap to grid off in edit mode

The grid still appears in edit mode, but you can now position and resize nodes a pixel at a time. When snap-to-grid is off, you can temporarily apply it when dragging a node or its corner, or using an arrow key, by pressing the shift key -- which has the opposite effect in this mode.

To recenter nodes that are not on the grid:

  1. Select all nodes in the diagram with the Select All (Control+a) command from the Edit menu.
  2. Select Align Selection To Grid from the Diagram menu (Control+j).

Align nodes

Use the Align submenu from Diagram menu align selected nodes. In each case, it aligns the selected nodes with the last selected node (shown with black corners). You can align nodes horizontally, on their left sides, centers, right sides, or both left and right sides:

Chapter6 7.png

Or you can align them vertically, along their top sides, centers, bottom sides, or both top and bottom sides:

Chapter6 8.png

Distribute nodes evenly

To distribute selected nodes evenly, use the Space Evenly submenu in the Diagram menu. You can distribute selected nodes so that the centers are evenly spaced vertically (Space Evenly Across) or horizontally (Space Evenly Down). To ensure that the nodes end up on the grid, use Space Evenly Across, on grid or Space Evenly Down, on grid. The “on grid” options may adjust the locations of the first and last nodes as well as those in between. The non-on-grid options preserve the locations of the first and last nodes, but some of the nodes may be off grid.

Choose which node is in front

By default, text and picture nodes are behind influence arrows, and arrows are behind all other types of nodes (decision, chance, variable, etc.). If nodes overlap, the more recently created node is in front of the older node. You can change this order by selecting a node(s) and using the Send to Back and Bring to Front options from the right-click menu.

Hide less important arrows

Sometimes so many nodes are interrelated that it is hard or impossible to arrange a diagram to avoid arrows crossing each other or crossing nodes. It may be helpful to hide some arrows that show less important influences. For example, indexes and functions are often connected to many other variables: that’s why arrows to and from them are switched off by default.

You can hide all of the arrows linking indexes, functions, or modules, or the grayed feedback arrows in dynamic models, using the Set Diagram Style command from the Diagram menu in the Diagram Style dialog. You can also hide the input or output arrows from each node individually, using the Set Node Style command in the Node Style dialog.

Update old models from Analytica 4.3 or earlier

Model created in Analytica 4.3 or earlier didn't use the modern ClearType fonts, which gives clearer text in diagrams. To update them to use ClearType:

  1. Show the diagram for the top level Model as the active window
  2. Select Set Diagram Style... on the Diagram menu
  3. Click the ClearType fonts checkbox in that dialog (it only appears if you are editing an old model).

When you turn ClearType fonts on for the first time, the font width and spacing changes slightly, which often causes some nodes to word wrap in new, undesirable places. To fix this:

  1. Select all nodes in the Diagram by pressing Ctrl+A
  2. Select Adjust size from the Diagram menu. If it doesn't look quite the way you want, repeat until it does.

You may repeat this for each Diagram in the model.

Chapter6 9.png

See Also


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