Coder of Salvation™   — programming / opensource / console / minimal

Getting ideas across by emailing ascii graphs using unix tree


A picture is worth a thousand words. At the same time: there are many techpeople who prefer to write text instead of creating pictures. But how much does one need to get an idea across?

Ultimate laziness: directories and symlinks!

Directories and symlinks are easy for people to manage. There's this unix utility called tree which is available on almost every platform.

generating graphs in gmail using unix tree and directories

That's it! Just copy/paste the output of tree into your email client, and set the font to 'Fixed-width'. Done!

Does this work on our forum/webchat as well?

See for yourself by copy/pasting this:

├── colors
│   ├── green
│   └── nongreen
└── person
    └── type
        ├── alien
        │   └── colors -> db/colors
        ├── female
        │   └── colors -> db/colors
        └── male
            └── colors -> db/colors

Background thoughts

Where do text and pictures meet in the middle?

|   Ascii art!  |---------> is laborous to write or mousedraw manually!

Therefore generating it from the unix commandline, without exotic tools is attractive.

Optionally one could even supply a bash oneliner in the email or post to your collegue can easily reproduce it.

There are many tools out there!

Don't get me wrong here. I love solutions like graphviz, gnuplot and mscgen and flowchart apps. However tree would make a great balance between laziness and constructiveness.

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