Why I wrote Vithanco

Vithanco stands for “Visual Thinking and Communication”. What does it mean?

I have experienced that visual focus helps me thinking. Without a focus it’s difficult to concentrate. Sometimes I only need to start writing. But most often I start drawing. It’s like the old proverb “a picture says more than a thousand words”. The same is true for the outcome: the diagram/picture I drew tells more than a long paragraph.

Most times I draw boxes and connect them. Only by putting concepts into relation to other concepts does the structure of my thinking become really clear to me. Then I realised that the paper is soon getting to messy because the diagram evolves. So, in the past I tried software like Visio and I realised that I spend too much time wondering about the layout instead of focusing on the content. You add a box somewhere and suddenly you need to rearrange large pieces of the previous drawing which is used as a welcome distraction. 

Then I found Flying Logic. Flying Logic did the layout for me taking a huge distraction away, allowing focus on the content. I loved the application and I would be still using Flying Logic if it:

  • wouldn’t be too cluttered,
  • would it be more guiding through the graph creation and
  • wouldn’t the nodes all look the same.

The second point is particularly important. Flying Logic was written to support the Theory of Constraints (TOC) Thinking Processes. But these are tricky to learn without guidance. And Flying Logic didn’t give that guidance. Actually, that is not completely true. It comes with a long and useful document on the matter. In any case, I needed more flexibility. Hence, I created my own software.

Some of the key Concepts of this Blog Post

Use any Vithanco application and you will see that it supports you to focus on the content and creates beautiful diagrams. Vithanco uses “Domains” to define a visual language that restricts the diagram to a “valid” graph. So, if you are working on an IBIS diagram you will only be offered the suitable IBIS nodes for the given situation. This results in less distraction as I don’t need to think about the structure any longer. I can truly focus on the content. And yes, I try not to have a minimal user interface – the application itself shouldn’t distract you neither. 

And if the content is right the ideas will come through more easily. Try it out. Communicate your ideas to someone based on as simple diagram. They will grasp your ideas faster as they can use eyes and ears to follow you and to understand you. 

What can you do with Vithanco?

Vithanco is a visual graph editor. The graph I am referring to is a graph made of a set of nodes (or vertices) and edges (or connections). I do not refer to a chart. Graphs can be used in many ways. 

A simple graph

On the first look Vithanco might look like other visualisation software like Microsoft Visio. Like in Visio will you have different shapes (nodes) and connect them.  However, Vithanco has a different approach in two important ways:

  • Vithanco layouts the graph for you. There are some ways how to influence the outcome but you cannot position a specific node to a specific location. The location of each note is calculated based on the relationship of the nodes in a way that the graph is easily understandable.
  • Vithanco provides you with a graphical language that restricts what nodes can be connected to each other and hence guides you through the creation of a valid graph.  

The 2nd point needs more explanation and will explain Vithanco well. Each Vithanco diagram is created according to a “Domain”. A domain is a set of NodeTypes that define the looks of the different nodes and which node types can be connected via an edge.  Let’s use a Vithanco graph example to explain. The graph below was drawn with Vithanco, using the Concept Map Domain. The graph shows key concepts of Vithanco. Concept Maps are easy to read as edges are always from concepts (boxes) to relationships (text without framing), and from relationships to concepts. Start with a concept and create a sentence, like “(A) Graph consists of Nodes and Edges” . 

Key Concepts of Vithanco

The Concept Map Domain contains basically two node types: “Concept(s)” and “Relation(s)”. These two node types have different graphical representations (with box and without) and they can only be connected to the other node type. Hence, the Concept Maps Domain doesn’t allow to draw an edge from a concept to another concept or from a relation to another relation.  And if you wonder, I created two different concept node types. There is an 2nd coloured node type just to emphasise key concepts.

Have a second look at the graph above. If you understand the graph then you will understand Vithanco. Follow the lines: “Node Types define valid Edges”, “Edges connect two Nodes”, and “Graph can have Clusters”. Clusters are an option element to cluster some nodes. The diagram above has two clusters: “Visual Elements” and “Meta Model”. The Meta Model is what makes Vithanco special. The Visual Elements is what you see as output.