Convert data to diagrams with yEd

Weighting

In flowcharts, it makes sense in terms of improved visualization to show important nodes as enlarged and color-highlighted icons. The viewer can thus see at a glance which instances in the chart handle critical functions. To help you do this, the software has a feature that weights nodes based on the connections existing between them and then displays the results. It also changes the size of the corresponding elements. You can trigger these computations using the Tools | Centrality Measures item.

In the dialog that appears, you can set the criteria that the yEd tool applies for its computations: The options are the number of connected nodes or the edge weighting – that is, the relevance of connections. You also can define whether the application takes account of incoming and outgoing lines in its computations or in just one of these directions.

You can use the dialog in the Result Presentation tab to define how yEd displays the modified chart. You can change the color of the central and remotest elements and use the Size dialog to determine how large or small the central and remote nodes will be in the view.

yEd also shows the corresponding factors by default. If needed, you can disable this by unchecking the Show Result in Node Label option in the Result Presentation tab. This makes extensive charts, in particular, significantly easier to read (Figure 6).

Figure 6: A weighted graph shows at a glance which elements are especially relevant.

Often designing your own charts for simpler visualization tasks is not worth the work. If templates are available in such cases, you can adapt them to your needs with little effort. For this, yEd includes several templates in the Help | Example Graphs item. They are sorted into subgroups by type and display format.

Formats

The variety of file formats that yEd supports is a further highlight. You can import Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and genealogical data in the standard GEDCOM format [2]. Additionally, text-based GML files [3] for further editing as charts will not faze yEd.

Natively, the software works with the popular XML-based GraphML format [4]. Because common office programs still often do not support this format directly, yEd offers various export capabilities, including BMP, GIF, JPEG, and PNG graphics formats, among others. For direct screening of charts with a projector, you can even convert to PDF if necessary. The software even writes Flash and encapsulated PostScript, which means that you can use the charts with many other applications.

Conclusions

Whether you only occasionally need to visualize figures or want to design professional charts with a variety of content, the yEd graph editor tool is up to most tasks. The easy-to-use program lets you create appealing results quickly. In doing so, yEd is amazingly agile and very stable for a Java program.

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