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Scapple: The $15 Network Diagramming Tool?

352 Words. Plan about 2 minute(s) to read this.

According to the good folks at Literature & Latte, Scapple is…

an easy-to-use tool for getting ideas down as quickly as possible and making connections between them. It isn’t exactly mind-mapping software—it’s more like a freeform text editor that allows you to make notes anywhere on the page and to connect them using straight dotted lines or arrows. If you’ve ever scribbled down ideas all over a piece of paper and drawn lines between related thoughts, then you already know what Scapple does.

I saw a cool Scapple screenshot, and my brain immediately leaped from free-form mindmapping to network diagramming. Draw boxes, label them with some notes, connect them to each other with different style connectors? Um…yep. That’s what I do in Visio, only Visio makes me want to shoot myself in the face. Microsoft has given Visio the tragic ability to complicate everything for the end user. Even connecting objects in Visio is unpredictable, because you never know where attach points will be found on a given icon. Any Visio document I’ve created is court admissible evidence of hours I spent frustrated and irritated. I hate using Visio, really. I suppose you get that by now. Moving on.

Back to Scapple. It is indeed a simple, easy-to-use tool. Scapple does not have a lot of capabilities, but for building simple network diagrams, it’s really quite effective. Will it replace Visio? Perhaps not, but I find I was able to do much more with Scapple than I was expecting in a short period of time. Here’s a sample diagram that I threw together in 30 minutes or so, including the time it took me to figure out some of Scapple’s formatting options.

Click image to BIGGIFY.

Click image to BIGGIFY.

So judge for yourself. Is Scapple worthwhile? Now, recall that I’m somewhat re-purposing Scapple for my own ends. Scapple wasn’t intended to create network diagrams – it’s more about mindmapping, right? Still, for $15, I don’t see how you could go wrong if Visio makes you die a little inside every time you start it up.

Ethan Banks writes & podcasts about IT, new media, and personal tech.
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