You can use Dia to create (draw) technical diagrams


Dia is an open source software package, that can be downloaded and used both with Windows and Linux, to create simple technical diagrams. Since this blog is about computer networking, I will go through the process of creating a simple diagram with Dia, with screen-shots where ever required.

The biggest advantage of Dia, is the fact that it has pre-built packages of objects – Like Network Switches, Routers, Telephones, Internet Cloud, etc.  These objects are arranged in convenient categories. Even the connectors – straight line, dotted line, coloured line, curves, etc can be drawn using the basic shape tools available with Dia. Its even possible to inscribe some text where ever required on the diagram. You can insert external image, if required.

How to draw a technical diagram using Dia?

Step 1: Download Dia (Either Windows or Linux package). Its open source based package and free of cost to download.

Step 2:

Dia Screen and Tool boxAfter you download and install Dia, when you open the program for the first time, two windows (as shown above) open on the screen. The first window with a white background with big boxes is the drawing work area. That is where the drawings are created. The smaller box with the grey background with so many small rectangles is the tool box. The objects, shapes, etc can be selected from there and brought to the main work area to create diagrams.

Step 3:

selecting network cloud (by clicking on other sheets)Now we need to select an appropriate category to select an object. Since we need to select a cloud first, we will click on other sheets and select Cisco-Network, where the cloud shape is available (On the smaller window with grey background). Then we have to locate the cloud from multiple objects available in the lower area of the smaller box.

Step 4:

network cloud in diaOnce the object is selected (network cloud in this case), you need to click on the object in the smaller box and then take the mouse to the larger work area, and click again (left click – both times). Now, the network cloud appears on the main screen (drawing work area). There are handles on the object (cloud) which can be dragged to resize the shape (expand and contract).

Step 5:

selecting objects in diaSo, similarly we select appropriate categories and select all the objects we want to use with our diagram and put them on the main drawing worksheet. You can click on the objects to get them and arrange them in various locations in the main drawing work area.

Step 6:

drawing a line in diaNow, we need to connect all the objects together. For that, we select the Line tool on the upper side of the smaller toolbox and then click on the main drawing work area to get a line. The line can be adjusted to fit the objects (in this case, the cloud and the router).

Step 7:

dia connectors The next step is to connect all the objects similarly to create a flow diagram as shown above. Now all the objects look connected.

Step 8:

using text box in dia

Now, we need to name the various components. For this, we can click on the text box on the upper side of the toolbox on the right hand side, select the text box (T) by clicking on it, then take the mouse to the drawing work sheet, click again to enable text input. The text can be dragged anywhere within the drawing work area like all other objects. Here, we name the cloud as Network/ Internet.

Step 9:

dia naming objectsSo, we have named all the other objects as Router, Network Switch and Computer respectively from top to bottom. That completes our simple technical diagram. Then, we can select the Save As, and save the diagram as .dia diagram to enable further modifications and also export it as .png and .jpg image to use it anywhere else.

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