Sometimes I need to draw simple shapes into plain text documentation file. What application can do this? Last time I've used such an app under MS-DOS :) (It was called Flow or something like that.)

Using standard ASCII characters:

--------------          --------------
|   Source   |--------->|   Source   |
|   File 1   |<---------|   File 2   |
--------------          --------------  

Possibly also using good old table-drawing characters brought back to life by Unicode:

╔═══════════╤═══╗     ┌─────────┐
║ Semaphore │ A ║     │ Queue   │
╚═══════════╧═══╝     └─────────┘

I need this for Windows.


6 Answers 6


Try TorchSoft ASCII Art Studio

  • works on Windows
  • supports shapes, tables
  • text mode for easy editing
  • freehand drawing
  • conversion from picture to ASCII
  • it has a 30 day trial
  • single user license is 29.95 $

enter image description here


You can use asciiflow:

  • proprietary, free of charge
  • online
  • can upload files to Google Drive
  • basic shapes:

enter image description here


You can use JavE:

  • closed source freeware
  • Cross-platform (Java) (java -jar jave5.jar)

enter image description here

Also it contains a pretty nice math formula editor:

enter image description here


FAR Manager has an internal editor with "Draw Lines" capability (Press F11, then select "Draw lines"). May be enough for your purposes.


What you show in your example looks a lot like UML.

If sequence diagrams are what you need, here's a tool that does both ASCII and Unicode

PlantUML, Open Source


  • Although to produce diagrams using this tool, declarations are required based on which diagrams are drawn, proposed tool looks quite valuable for special-purpose charting – thank you.
    – miroxlav
    May 29, 2014 at 19:48
  • Up 1 if you like it ;-)
    – Agostino
    May 29, 2014 at 21:35
  • – it is good your answer is here to show potentially useful UML tool, it might find its use in special cases. But for standard ASCII-drawing (as I expected in my question) it looks to be too difficult. I think I can't achieve shapes shown in the question without studying the tool's language first. This is why I decided not to upvote.
    – miroxlav
    May 29, 2014 at 22:05

The ADia project aims to render ASCII diagrams using a human-readable language:

diagram: Foo
foo -> bar: Hello World!


 DIAGRAM: Foo                             

 +-----+             +-----+
 | foo |             | bar |
 +-----+             +-----+
    |                   |
    |~~~Hello World!~~~>|
    |                   |
    |                   |
 +-----+             +-----+
 | foo |             | bar |
 +-----+             +-----+

Read the documentation or Try the live demo page at github.io.

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