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Show HN: Monodraw, an ASCII Art Editor for Mac (monodraw.com)
141 points by milen on May 14, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 53 comments

> Monodraw does not use activation or any other form of DRM. We have complete trust in our customers.

Thank you.

I'm glad to see other people appreciate it :)

It was a very simple decision for me - putting any kind of activation etc would just annoy the real customers. Whoever wants to pirate the app will do so regardless of any other protection mechanisms.

(Monodraw developer)

Any chance of a Linux/Windows port in the future? I saw this the last time it hit HN, and have hoped for something like this for other OSes.

Monodraw is written in Obj-C against the AppKit framework and we always strive to create the best native experience.

This means the app is not portable as it is right now. But with the recent announcement from Microsoft about their support for Obj-C, this might be something that could happen in the future (MS does not yet support AppKit).

(Monodraw developer)

Might the GNUstep AppKit work for you?

Serious question: Does it work for anyone ?

http://emacswiki.org/emacs/ArtistMode is clearly less featureful, but might work for less advanced use cases.

Less feature rich, but handy, is a program called aacircuits, for drawing ASCII-art circuit diagrams. It dates way back to the days of Usenet. I still use it to include small schematics in microcontroller source code. For instance if I figure out how to program a particular chip, I include a schematic of a circuit to "demo" the code.

I'd be shocked if aacircuits doesn't run under Wine on a Linux machine.

If you do perl stuff there is Asciio


may help on Linux. But Monodraw looks nicer and more featureful and easier to install on Mac.

There's also http://rexpaint.blogspot.com ...I might eat my words on this, but I think it's by the creator of cogmind a rougelike in development.

JavE [http://www.jave.de/] is a java application with similar features.

+1/Like/Up-vote for that.

I've been using Monodraw for several months and really enjoy it. An indispensable feature I don't see mentioned on the landing page is the ability to embed an image in the canvas so that you can "trace" over it. It makes converting an image to ASCII by hand much easier.

Been using the beta for a couple of months and I love the export options w/ various code comment flavors. It makes it much easier to drop in some no-so-subtle hints. For example:


This seems really nice (and will work well with my wiki-ing everything lately). However, as another poster pointed out, A$65 is somewhat steep for something that won't see daily use. How does this compare with asciiflow (http://asciiflow.com/) featurewise?

Trust me - it's worth every $. I bought it months ago and haven't looked back. I use it at least 3-4 times a week and it really makes my work easier.

The site you linked has a lot less features and a more cumbersome UI.

Thank you! I hadn't yet had time to actually go and compare them. I'll have a look at monodraw as soon as I have some cash available (my car is sucking me dry...).

> I can move myself to the Applications folder if you'd like.

That is a friendly feature that I haven't seen before. Do other programs do this?

I've seen quite a lot of apps with this feature, they are probably using this: https://github.com/potionfactory/LetsMove

HipChat does this.

Wow, I love this. I can't believe I never wished for something like this.

Been beta-testing this, and it's really really great! Excellent for small diagrams in code comments.

Looks awesome! I guess my only concern is $65 AUD seems a bit high? Also, is there a specific reason why it needs 10.9+?

Hi there, Monodraw developer here.

Regarding pricing: I wish we could price it much lower but the reality is that this tool is extremely niche. We've also put a _huge_ amount of work into it and I hope it shows in the amount of polish (although there are many more things we would like to improve and add but we had to call v1 at some point). If we ever stand a chance to continue making the best software we can, we have to price it in such a way that will allow us to do that. Note that we might still fail and not achieve a sustainable level but if we priced it at, say, $30 or $20 then we would definitely not be able to continue making the apps we want.

Regarding 10.9+ requirement: we do depend on the improvements in AppKit in 10.9 regarding layer-backed views and hence the requirement.

Hope that clarifies both issues.

I understand the reasoning, but I was going to purchase it, then saw the price, £39.99. I'd probably have bought it at £20, but for an app I'm not going to use very often £40 is too much for me.

Stick with the pricing. The application is niche, and as such should have a higher price. It has been noted many times over that software has a bimodal pricing scheme - very cheap for off the shelf software, and very expensive for bespoke software. But of course, that's the black and white view of the world. The more 'niche' your off-the-shelf software is, the closer it gets to being bespoke, and the price should rise accordingly. It works in the other direction as well of course - if you can build an application by simply tweaking an existing framework, such as building a website using Squarespace, then this should cost much less than true bespoke software.

All of which is to say that I feel that you have the right approach to software pricing. I hadn't realized this exists, but I may well become a customer in the next few days - I have been looking at options for creating UML documents in code.

One thing though, do you have a re-import feature? This is the killer feature for me - I would love to be able to create a URL diagram in your app, paste it into the top of a source file, and then copy it from the source file back into the app for modification later when the code changes. I realize that this is a tricky problem to solve, but solving it takes this from being a toy to being a true industrial tool from my perspective.

I understand your justification for the pricing but you need to be wary you don't lose too many sales by pricing too high, and $65 is too high for a casual "use it once in a while" purchase for most people. Maybe you could have multiple pricing tiers such as a "Pro" version that has flowcharting tools and such? Then you could drop the price of the "Basic" version to something people are a bit more likely to purchase as an impulse buy...

All the Mac OS apps in that "whoa, this is pretty neat!" territory always cost at least $20.

I am really excited about this. I'm curious if I can write a novel in this thing (or copypasta into something else), while mixing in visual cues (shapes, drawings), so I can scan a huge text file (hundreds of thousands of words) very quickly and always know exactly where I am.

Hi there, Monodraw developer here.

I think it should be entirely possible. Different parts of your novel can just be different shapes and you can arrange them on the infinite canvas as you wish.

In addition, Monodraw now supports embedding of pictures on the canvas, so you should be able to have additional visual cues.

Feel free to get in touch if you have any specific use cases in mind - always happy to hear more from our users.


lol, when you said "infinite canvas," I had a brain fart, and I almost asked what the file format was and if I can get my data out. I'll show myself out.

EDIT: Wait! Having actually opened the program. There's layers. It's not a raw ascii save file. Interesting.

EDIT EDIT: Would suggest XML save file so that all data is always in plain text. See, e.g. Eastgate Tinderbox's save file.

Another quick thought. Again, this program is already polished and excellent--I think "export" should be as simple as hitting ctrl/command-C with something selected and then pasting into a text file. This would be for quick little drawings without breaking flow in another file. Right now it seems like you have to export, choose a file name and location, open the new file, etc., etc.

And another quick thought. I haven't looked closely at your save format, but it'd be great if one could also have periodic autosave to *.txt or even autosave after every change. Layers, etc., would be lost, but I'd feel safer than leaving data in your "proprietary" format (which actually might be quite accessible) if I investigated it.

> Another quick thought. Again, this program is already polished and excellent--I think "export" should be as simple as hitting ctrl/command-C with something selected and then pasting into a text file. [snip

That's exactly how it works! Select any number of shapes, hit Cmd-C and it will copy them to the clipboard. You can even set a preference to include a comment tag when copying to the clipboard.

> And another quick thought. I haven't looked closely at your save format, but it'd be great if one could also have periodic autosave to *.txt or even autosave after every change.

As a standard OS X document app, it autosaves are regular intervals that are determined by the OS (in particular, every time you leave the app, as well).

>> That's exactly how it works!

Ah, have to be in select mode. Not intuitive--I really did play around and give up, and I'm not stupid. ;-)

You actually can export a selection to the clipboard using command-c. I never use the export button, opting instead to select all with command-a then copy with command-c. Be sure to check out the clipboard tab in preferences. I find the option to trim trailing whitespace helpful, and the comment styles are useful to embed diagrams in source code.

Hmm, in raw text mode, I would prefer that the text boxes have word wrap and automatic multilining, instead of the cursor hitting the border and staying there. In this way, I could watch a text box fill up while I was typing.

I would also love nonrectangular (arbitrarily shaped) text fields. And text flow around shapes if you overlap a shape with a text box.

Basically, the features of Scribus.

BUT, I may be a far edge case, of wanting to do actual writing and desktop publishing in something like this.

In any case, for the features it has, it feels extraordinarily clean, comprehensive, and polished.

I can see this being used for command line UIs, and maybe it would be nice for source control for some reason. Other than that, I struggle to see its usefulness, and I'm a little surprised at all of the positive feedback.

The website looks beautiful! I bet it has been fun to develop.

Awesome work! I have been working on a roguelike and a tool like this will be great for mocking up dungeons and testing out different ascii characters for representing things :)

Before I was using vim for this but this seems much nicer. I like the ability to set a 9 grid up on rects.

I really would love having such a thing for Linux.

Ditaa (http://ditaa.sourceforge.net/) does drawings in a similar style, and is open source.

Damn! I missed the Beta discount :( I've found this app useful for TCP/IP diagrams and will be purchasing it shortly.

The product is awesome! Just out of curiosity, what kind of TCP/IP diagrams do you draw with it?

I'm guessing it's the ones found in RFCs, like this:


Awesome! Great examples on how to represent stuff in plain text. Thanks for the link!

Check out the Docs here: https://github.com/IanSeyler/minIP/tree/master/Docs

Those diagrams were made in Monodraw

i had that same feeling because i was going to buy it yesterday and then this morning saw it went 1.0 :p oh well.

I've been wishing for something like this to help me draw diffable diagrams in source code comments

This is really awesome. So much quality. Upvoting.

Beautiful landing page!

congrats on launching this!

Dude this thing is super cool! I can see myself using this a lot! Thanks!!

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