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Model text file + layout text file -> beautiful diagram

Project description

Flatland Model Diagram (non) Editor

Ah yes, yet another tool for generating diagrams from text. But this one is different (otherwise I wouldn't have wasted all this time building it!)

I built Flatland because the following benefits are critical for productive model development:

  1. Complete separation of the model semantics from the diagram layout
  2. Complete separation of model semantics from model notation
  3. Consistent layout of model diagrams without forcing the user to accept or hack awkard, non-sensical placements of nodes and connectors (yeah, I'm lookin at YOU PlantUML)
  4. Maximum layout power with minimal specification: No more carpal tunnel pixel pushing!
  5. Beautiful, readable diagram output in many output formats (pdf, svg, etc)
  6. Support for industrial strength modeling (many hundreds and thousands of model elements)
  7. Use your favorite text editor and all the advanced facilities of it and whatever IDE you like without having to learn yet another draw tool that makes you and your team's life difficult.
  8. And since we're here on GitHub, wouldn't it be nice if all of your models were under proper configuration management where you and your team can diff and merge to your heart's content? Wouldn't it be nice to update a diagram layout without touching the underlying model (and vice versa)?

Basically, I have wasted way too many hours of my career pushing pixels around and I just couldn't take it anymore!

Flatland is a model diagram non-editor written by me Leon Starr that generates beautiful PDFs (and other output formats) based on two very human-readable input text files. The model file specifies model semantics (state transitions, generalizations, classes etc) while the layout file specifies (node placement and alignment, connector anchors) and lightly refers to some elements in the model file. You can think of the layout file as a "style sheet" for your models. Some benefits:

WARNING: I am still in the early days of releasing to the greater public so it's going to be a few weeks/months before this tool is ready for the outside world. We are currently using it at the Toyota Research Institute for our work modeling the driving environment for autonomous vehicles. So this tool is in production and improving daily. Nonetheless, I don't recommend wasting your time downloading just yet unless you just want to play with it and look at the code and documentation. Follow me on twitter or LinkedIn for updates.

Models to Code

In the meantime, if you are curious about the whole MBSE thing that this tool supports, take a look at our book. Also, various resources at the Model Integration website.


Notes here are for those familiar with python installation procedures. I will write a more detailed set of procedures for those who are not in a later release.

Flatland currently uses the multi-platform cairo graphics library to do all of the drawing. Ideally, you should ensure that you have cairo installed before installing Flatland. If you are on Mac OS X, you can use homebrew to install it easily. (It worked fine for me, anyway)

You should also ensure that you have Python 3.9+ installed. A virtual environment is highly recommended.

You can install the Flatland Model Diagram Editor from PyPI:

$ pip install flatland-model-diagram-editor

Flatland is supported on Python 3.9 and above

How to use

At this point I refer you to the wiki on this site for all of the user documentation. Enjoy (and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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