ditaa Addition

Recently, while wandering around the Internet, I found a neat little project called ditaa. The basic idea is it takes a textual representation of a diagram, and turns it into a real image. My first thought was that this looked real neat for use in this blog.

I write this now not in HTML directly, but in reStructured Text, a somewhat less verbose markup language native to Python. Thankfully, someone had already made a directive for ditaa diagrams to be embedded in reST and get rendered to an image in the final page. With this in hand, I managed to cobble together a plugin for pelican to add that directive to my posts.

There's only one live example at the moment, which is my American Greetings hackathon post. The plugin itself has been added to my fork of pelican-plugins.

It's not all great, though. One thing I would really like is the ability to render the diagram to SVG instead of PNG. SVG is much better for things like simple diagrams, as it is web-native, (all it is is a special kind of XML document), and it's vector-based, making it inherently scalable for different sized displays. As near as I can tell, ditaa appears to use SVG internally, at least to some extent. Ideally, I'd like to try to re-implement it in Python, not necessarily for any benefit, but because the problem sounds interesting.


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