Sate the urge to draw a graph: useful software

Sometimes one just has the urge to draw a graph, and to draw a graph quickly. This happens to me when I’m trying to convey basic ideas either in my teaching material or for the introduction of a talk, for example. In the past I have tried the approach of copy/paste from Google Images or by searching through my paper database for an appropriate figure. This can often be fruitless, or you find something that is too complex for the point you want to convey or just not quite right.

In these situations I’ve either gone a) complete amateur and draw it with a marker then take a photo, or b) complete overkill and boot up Matlab and end up spending far too long on coding up the graph formatting. But there is in fact a fairly awesome solution to sate this urgent thirst for a simple yet aesthetically appealing graph. And it is now free. OmniGraphSketcher is pretty cool, see their video demo here. It just does graphs. That’s it.

The Omni group discontinued this bit of software in order to focus on their other products (I love OmniGraffle 5 and use it a lot to prepare publication quality figures). They took the admirable step however of releasing the software for free and making the code open source in Jan 2014.

You can go download the mac app here: https://github.com/graphsketcher/GraphSketcher/releases

Here is a quick example, inspired from a graph I made on the white board this morning in my undergraduate module on decision making.

dominance graph test

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