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I'm looking for a tool to help me draw architecture diagrams in "napkin" style (not sure what else to call it). I've seen a few blog posts and presentations with diagrams like this:

enter image description here

Any ideas what kind of software I can use to create these diagrams? Originally I thought they might be hand-drawn in Illustrator or something but I've seen a few of them all in very similar style, so I'm assuming it's actually a specific tool, but am happy to be corrected.

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    Which OS must it run on? How much are you willing to pay? Please edit your question and integrate these details :) – Izzy Jun 3 '16 at 16:12
  • I really like this question. I think the point is that "napkin" diagrams are not good because they are fast to create, but because they look informal. People don't fixate on details with informal diagrams or user interface mockups - they focus on the idea. Formally styled content creates expectations of "perfection", and people will inadvertently fixate on things like flowchart boxes not being aligned, or the same size, etc. – Tim Holt Feb 15 at 21:47
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From the style of the drawing, it looks as though the software whose output you have seen might perhaps be Balsamiq?

(Even if the output is not actually from Balsamiq itself, it might be a suitable tool to do what you need: "Balsamiq Mockups is a rapid wireframing tool [...]. It reproduces the experience of sketching on a whiteboard, but using a computer.")

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    Thanks, will check that out! I've been using sketchboard.me which actually seems pretty good, doesn't give me the same style as I asked for above but lets me "sketch" pretty quickly - and it's free :) – Matt May 11 '17 at 12:50
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    Did you finally decide what yo use? Others would be interested – Mawg Oct 10 '17 at 10:37
  • Balsmaiq is not free, but also not terrible expensive (it is a monthly subscription, though, not a one off) 2 Projects $9/month or $90/year Perfect for solo developers, or if you just want to kick the tires. Includes Auto-Hibernation. 20 Projects $49/month or $490/year Our most popular plan. Suitable for most companies and teams. 200 Projects $199/month or $1,990/year For bigger teams who have more than 20 projects. – Mawg Jan 8 '18 at 9:59
  • Please attach a screenshot showing Balsamiq being used to create a "napkin-style" diagram, thanks! :-) – Nicolas Raoul Mar 2 at 9:07
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yEd Graph Editor can be pretty quick when you get used to it.

  • The speed comes from the automatic arrangements (optional) of objects and custom/non-custom shapes and clip-artish objects.
  • It is powerful (scalable), so when your napkin diagram grows, it won't suffer.
  • It is free and runs on Linux/Win/Mac.
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    Please attach a screenshot showing yEd being used to create a "napkin-style" diagram, thanks! :-) – Nicolas Raoul Mar 2 at 9:07

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