Five features that will support your work with data in a diagramming application

Diagrams simplify the data presentation and allow you to perform quick actions. That is why the applications that support them must be equipped with the best-suited functionalities. On the example of our case study, we distinguished 5 features that significantly affect the handling of diagrams and allow you to create dependency networks in a snap.

A few words about the project

The following functionalities are used in the Opal RT project. The schematic editor we created for the client resulted from a request for a custom solution. Their market-based tool for modeling electrical circuits wasn’t sufficient. The lack of desired functionalities and their high cost made them ask Synergy Codes for help. We presented the ways to lower the tool’s price while still offering all the specialized functionalities that mattered to the business. As part of the project, we used available technologies such as GoJS library, React, PostgreSQL, .NET Core. The result was the creation of the Interactive Schematic Editor. It covers the solutions for electrical circuit modeling by implementing intuitive dashboards.

Functionality 1: Customized Pallete

Opal RT Schematic Editor is mainly the tool for creating an electrical network diagram. Therefore, the most relevant was to determine the palette’s elements, from which the user can easily add nodes that interest him by using the drag & drop function. Based on the interview with the client, we can develop nodes useful in building a network.

Functionality 2: Internal Linking

It’s hard to imagine a simulation without seeing how nodes behave. Try all sorts of connections between them so that they picture the network’s behavior. Apply the assigned linking system with forking, e.g., branching. It’s crucial to anchor forking and use appropriate management algorithms. Applying custom solutions, shortcuts, and analysis of the behavior of lines connecting subsequent nodes, allow you to obtain the effect of no intersections.

Functionality 3: Real-time

The main requirement for a diagramming application is real-time validation. Therefore, it’s worth implementing propagation of the signal along with the links to obtain the effect of operation in real-time. In the Opal RT case study, we found that the presence of electric nodes is crucial for the functionality related to carrying information through signals.

Thanks to the rotate functionality, we can also observe the alignment of lines in real-time, and the use of a unique viewport solution allows you to read views, modify and validate in real-time.

Functionality 4: Subsystems

Subsystems allow you to nest parts of the diagram layout. It can be compared to a box in which we see related parts like links, nodes and ports. Therefore, you can split a large part of the diagram to

simplify the view. On the example of Opal RT Schematic Editor, we used two ways to create subsystems:

  • By dragging subsystem block from palette, when double-clicking on it, a new level of a diagram is displayed. It is possible to create a circuit with nodes and links inside it. Leaving the subsystem, you are ready for further work.
  • By selecting the particular part of the system, creating a subsystem is done by using the context menu or an appropriate shortcut. Thanks to this, we avoid the drag & drop function from the palette.

The whole thing is supported by the Undo Manager mechanism. It saves changes at every level of the diagram, regardless of whether you are currently working in the subsystem or not. Highlighting the changes is also a great help.

Functionality 5: Custom blocks and their behavior

In an ideal world, diagrams should deliver a better understanding of what is happening in a project. As part of the case study, we used text blocks. They support placing additional information in specific places in the diagram. Thanks to this, when sharing a project, each user can read, add, or revise information. A great feature is an image block that acts as a custom background supporting the application view and the diagram itself.

The highlighted functionalities are, of course, just some of the features worth paying attention to when working with diagrams. In this particular case, we have to mention the concept of virtualization, with which you can view the diagram in real-time. What’s more, by drawing on the functionalities used by Google Maps, you can zoom out the view and thus simplify the view by disappearing details. In the future, such solutions can be useful not only in the electrical industry but also in construction and automotive.