Article submitted by Ken Muir. We are running out of articles! Please help DPOTD and submit good articles about software you like!
So often we hear that Linux is lacking in key applications, but if there is one area in which there is a strong replacement for a key Windows application, it is flowcharting.
Kivio is part of the KDE Office Suite that offers basic flowcharting abilities, but with a twist. Objects are scriptable, and a back end plug-in system offers the ability to make objects do just about anything. The scriptable stencils use Python and there is also support for Dia stencils.
Despite the fact Kivio is a KDE-based application, it runs perfectly in the Gnome environment, although if you haven’t any other KDE applications installed, there are quite a few libraries and other essential KDE elements which have to be added to your system. Installation is completely straight forward and on first startup (Diag. 1), you are presented with the option of starting with an empty document or with the basic flowcharting stencil loaded.
Besides the basic flowchart stencils, there are collections of Dia shapes, geographic collections including maps and flags, hardware collections as well as entity relationship and UML collections. The desktop itself is a powerful working environment (Diag. 2), with palettes providing for an easy overview of your diagram as well as the management of layers, objects, geometry and protection. Alignment is easily managed with both manual and automatic guides. There is an extensive range of arrowheads available for connectors. Another powerful feature of the program is the ability to export pages in a large variety of formats, including PNG Image (.png), JPEG Image (.jpg), BMP Image (.bmp), Encapsulated Postscript Image (.eps), Portable Bitmap (.pbm), PCX Image (.pcx), Portable Pixmap Image (.ppm), SGI Image (RGB) (.rgb), X PixMap Image (.xpm), JPEG 2000 Image (.jp2), Krita Document (.kra), Adobe Illustrator Document (.ai), TIFF Image (.tiff), ILM EXR Image (.exr), Karbon14 Document (.karbon), GIMP Native Image Format (.xcf), Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg) and Windows® MetaFile (.wmf).
A freestanding text tool allows for easy documentation of diagrams. Kivio is very straight forward to use and you can quickly produce serviceable diagrams with very little effort. All the basic tools are intuitive to use and for power users there is an awful lot of sophistication below the hood.
Kivio is available for Debian Sarge, Etch, Lenny and Sid and for Ubuntu Feisty and Gutsy.
There is further information on Kivio at http://www.koffice.org/kivio/.
You can find an excellent handbook by Ben Lamb at http://docs.kde.org/stable/en/koffice/kivio/index.html and a PDF version at http://docs.kde.org/stable/en/koffice/kivio/kivio.pdf.
Current maintainer is Peter Simonsonn and the program is distributed under GPL version 2.