I'm looking for a Windows player that will draw a network diagram between entities and automatically arrange them on the page.
June 19, 2004 5:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for software that can draw a kind of "network diagram", showing the all the links between entities, and arranging the entities/lines automatically on the page. For instance, I've always wanted to draw a big diagram showing everyone I know, then draw lines between the people I know who know each other. Ideally, I'd like to be able to enter, simply, each persons name, and a list of all the people they know, and have it generate the diagram from that. I see this kind of thing all the time on the web - diagrams of what sites link to each other, or what bands sound like each other - but is there a simple Windows program that will do the same thing?

Note: I had trouble finding anything on Google, because I don't know what name (if any) these sorts of charts have. Searching for "network diagram" bought up a lot of pages about TCP/IP network architecture, which wasn't that helpful.
posted by Jimbob to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
visio? I know a network engineer who says he uses it for that purpose every day.
posted by bingo at 5:47 PM on June 19, 2004

Darn, I was with you until you mentioned Windows. You could check out some of the Windows ports of GraphViz (scroll down a bit) — the "dot" program sounds like exactly what you want.
posted by hattifattener at 5:48 PM on June 19, 2004

Response by poster: Hmmm, MS Visio looks a bit expensive for a one-off hobby project, unfortunately.
posted by Jimbob at 5:57 PM on June 19, 2004

posted by cmonkey at 6:00 PM on June 19, 2004

Freemind might work for you. And it's free.

You can't just type stuff in spreadsheet style. You have to add notes and link them together, but it's very quick and easy to do.
posted by grumblebee at 6:30 PM on June 19, 2004

I've used the GraphViz / dot stuff under windows quite a bit. Admittedly you do have to go command line, but it will suck in lines like.

"Fred Bloggs" -> "Norma Jean"
"Norma Jean" -- "Bruce Campbell"

and make pretty pictures. It's got a choice of algorithms too. It was a tad fiddly though. I was using for the freemind kind of thing, but using text as the raw source got too confusing.
posted by Flat Feet Pete at 6:50 PM on June 19, 2004

There used to be a software named something like "The Brain" (there are a few listed in Google; not sure which it would be) that did something like that. I think. I'm not entirely sure it allowed for multiple connections per node.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:51 PM on June 19, 2004

GraphViz, definitely. I'm not sure if you can use it to actually place the entries, it usually just spreads them out how it likes.
posted by abcde at 9:14 PM on June 19, 2004

Cmap is pretty cool and its free. I've used Mind Manager, which is essentially a commercial version of FreeMind for a long time. Adapting to Cmap was somewhat challenging because it offers a different approach to mapping, but it definitely provides a better way to outline multiple relationships.
posted by ajr at 9:42 PM on June 19, 2004

I'll second Mind Manager, though it is ridiculous expensive ($300 USD!). Freemind is okay but very free-looking; if you don't care about the aesthetic qualities of your map, it does a fine job. Cmap looks interesting, hadn't seen that one before.
posted by Succa at 9:16 AM on June 20, 2004

I can second the comments that Visual-Mind and Cmap are cool. Huminity is some kind of social-networking chat service that uses an adaptation of the TouchGraph product to do sorta what you're talking about.
posted by Tubes at 5:44 PM on June 20, 2004

NetMap. Watson. KnowledgeX (may be dufunct.) i2 something.
posted by callmejay at 9:53 AM on June 21, 2004

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