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Open-source software is crucial for the software industry. yWorks took part at Hacktoberfest 2020 to celebrate this during the month of October.
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yWorks Year in Review: 2020
Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans — this holds especially true for the past year! In retrospect, we found lots of bright moments among the challenges. Let’s revisit the highlights together. Surprises await… New options, bigger graphs, even more intuitive useOur flagship product, the yFiles diagramming SDK, grew by leaps and bounds last year. Many new graph analysis algorithms were incorporated: from detecting clusters, to aggregating sub-graphs, to calculating centrality values. The Large Graph Aggregation Demo shows how to use the various clustering algorithms to automatically analyze and explore even very large graphs. Keeping things classy, the new built-in BezierEdgeStyle uses smooth Bézier curve paths to render edges. For intuitive interactive editing, this style features the familiar control points (handles) also used in other vector graphic applications. Last but not least, check out the Isometric WebGL Drawing Demo on how to display data isometrically and adjust the projection to rotate the graph in 3D. This feature alone will change the way users see the data in their diagrams. As with every major release, many other details were optimized, too.Would you believe it?In the latest yFiles release, there are more than 522 easy ways to configure the over 15 different layout algorithms. That’s at least 1,160,310,760 possibilities for displaying your graphs!Good news about our diagram editors yEd Live and Graphity: We decided to keep yEd Live free of charge, and Graphity became available for Confluence Cloud — just in time for Atlassian’s announcement that they will discontinue server licensing. Did you know?Graphity provides more than 70 node icon palettes with a total of over 2,000 individual icons.For developers and data scientists, the brand-new App Generator puts low-code programming at your fingertips, making it very easy to rapidly build a prototype, or even whole yFiles apps, for data visualization. Hide DescriptionOpen in yEd LiveDownloadyFiles App GeneratorWe redesigned the Data Explorer for Neo4j, and equipped it with an improved UI on a technical level, this paves the way for 2021, when the Data Explorer will become available for other graph database systems. Our developers are already busily working on the next yFiles major release, also scheduled for 2021. This release will provide more developer goodies and a tighter integration with the App Generator. Automatic layouts will be able to distinguish between (and automatically respect) the different semantic types of elements. Plus, as usual, we’ll be adding lots of features in the areas of automatic layout, data binding, and framework integrations. Stay up to date on our Twitter or LinkedIn! “These guys know what they’re doing! This is what a really well-designed API should look like."Roger Bjärevall, CEO DbVis Software AB, customer since 2000Responding to crises as a team Prior to the pandemic, yWorks employees almost always commuted, many on their company-issued e-bikes. Remote work was rare. After all, our headquarters on the west side of Tuebingen are spacious and bright, and everyone enjoys the benefits of teaming up. From feasting on large pizzas at our big dining table, testing our mettle in the Mario Kart “lunchbreak league”, or joining colleagues for a brisk walk to the food truck, we all had many reasons to come to work every day. And, beginning in March, one reason to stay home: Covid-19.The managing directors took action early on, setting up stable infrastructure for remote collaboration. So before Germany went into lockdown, the first colleagues were already working from home. It was exciting to see how quickly our terrific team responded to the challenges that arose. Our face-to-face events also had to go digital. One example: The Neo4j GraphTour, sponsored by yWorks and originally planned as a road trip through Europe, morphed into an online event mid-March.Combating Covid…by putting our talents to work!In 2020, we supported 7 projects to fight Covid that are using yFiles and donated 39 Graphity licenses to help companies and institutions #FightCorona. Each of us can make a difference. Get the details here.People have the powerOur passion for diagramming is powered by people: colleagues, customers, and the graph and data enthusiasts we normally meet at events, customer sites, and our headquarters. This year, we enjoyed connecting with the graph community digitally, sponsoring major digital events like NODES 2020, as well as the annual Graph Drawing Symposium. Our customers around the worldThanks to our tools, we are present in almost every country on Earth. Our diagramming SDK yFiles is visualizing data on every inhabited continent — and who knows, maybe Antarctic researchers use it, too?Our customers worldwide helped make 2020 a successful year on the books. What makes us especially proud is when people recommend our products and services to workmates and friends. Again and again, we hear how much institutions and companies value the support we provide.“We’ve added custom diagraming templates, diagram exports, node grouping, line snapping and angle constraints, and a slew of other features. These have made the tool much easier to use, and are only possible because of the advanced features of yFiles.”Travis Collins, CTO Connect Our Kids, customer since 2020Summing up, looking aheadIt looks like we made the best of a very challenging year. And we couldn’t have done it without our loyal customers, colleagues, and partners. yWorks extends a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who supported our products and initiatives. We hope to see you next year — online or in person — at our y20 anniversary. Join us in celebrating our first two decades! Stay safe and be well in 2021, your diagramming experts yWorks
At yWorks we use open-source software on a daily basis. Much of the software that powers the world runs on open source. In short, the world and many aspects of our daily life wouldn’t be the way they are, if it wasn’t for open-source software. Here at yWorks we recognize that software companies that rely on free and libre software bear a responsibility to give back to the community. That is why we maintain multiple open-source projects with software that is free of charge – now and forever. In recent years many of the “big tech” companies have realised that open-source software is at the heartbeat of the industry. In order to ensure the open-source community stays alive and flourish, multiple companies organize different events to promote open source. One of these initiatives is Hacktoberfest by Digital Ocean.Created in 2013, Hacktoberfest is a “month-long celebration of open source”. Hacktoberfest aims at introducing newcomers to open source. For this, Digital Ocean teams up with GitHub. GitHub is like a social network for programmers. On GitHub, software is uploaded and revised by many million programmers daily. Participants of the Hacktoberfest can join any of the projects available on GitHub, and complete a fixed set of tasks specifically crafted by maintainers for newcomers. Once completed, participants can then obtain a free T-shirt among other goodies.Hacktoberfest also empathizes diversity in tech. By reducing contribution barriers (making issues easy for beginners, clear, concise) we can in turn allow many more people to “give open-source a try” . What starts as a small open source contribution, can lead to a lifelong career in tech, no matter which origin, ethnicity or gender a person has. yWorks joined this effort to bring awareness to open-source. We prepared two of our open source projects with special tasks for #hacktoberfest. One of these projects was svg2pdf. svg2pdf does exactly what its name says – it converts vector graphics (SVG) to PDF documents. This is of course useful for exporting graphs to PDF documents, but has potential for many more use cases. Released in 2015 by yWorks, svg2pdf has grown a large user base and regular contributions from organization outsiders, a popular choice for converting SVG to PDF in the browser.Our second project that participated in Hacktoberfest was the Java bytecode obfuscation software yGuard. It is used to protect Java-based software from being reverse-engineered. This process is essential for ensuring the intellectual property of stakeholders. However, not only yFiles benefits from this knowledge. Many of our customers have relied on the excellent yGuard software for years. In 2019 we decided to fully release this project on GitHub, making all its sources available for anyone.If any of these projects has piqued your interest, you can head right over to https://github.com/yWorks/svg2pdf.js or https://github.com/yWorks/yGuard to learn more about them. Of course, even after the Hacktoberfest, open source software remains an important topic for us and the whole tech community. We are happy that many programmers, artists, and creators contributed to the open-source community and our projects as part of the Hacktoberfest 2020! yGuard and svg2pdfCheck out and add your GitHub stars to our open-source software on GitHub, here!Learn more about yGuard, the Java obfuscator, here, and more about the svg2pdf on GitHub, here!
The Making of yFiles
In this presentation, our CTO Sebastian shows you the history of yFiles , and consequently yWorks! Our diagramming SDK yFiles was born over 20 years ago as a spin-off of the University of Tuebingen. Since then, we worked continually to keep improving our hero product. Sebastian will reveal some secrets about the journey of our diagramming SDK and our other products, and give you a preview of what is to come in the future. The presentation was made with our very own yFiles, to showcase the connectedness of the milestones in our history in the best manner: Through an evolving diagram! yFiles - the diagramming SDKLearn more about yFiles, the diagramming SDK, and it's powerful and flexible features for HTML, Java, .NET, and WPF here.
Case Study: JetBrains
As codebases grow larger, it becomes more and more important to keep an overview - especially for large software companies that work with big development teams on their software. Automatic UML and class diagrams can help with getting this overview. Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) are an essential tool for professional software developers. They bring together various development tools and integrate them seamlessly into one integrated application to maximize the efficiency of developers around the world. At the forefront of IDEs for almost any coding language: JetBrains. Since 2000 they are dedicated to make professional software a more productive and enjoyable experience. They achieve this by maximizing the efficiency of the workflows of their customers by integrating many aspects of a developer’s workflow into one single platform.Throughout the last decades, more and more people are coding for a living and software keeps expanding and evolving. Part of that is the increasing size and complexity of their codebases. Adding new developers to the team and refactoring existing code becomes more challenging every day. To help developers understand and explore the structure of code, they can use UML-Diagrams (Unified Modeling Language). Although UML diagrams are not meant to be used as a single source of analysis, these diagrams can enable developers to see connections between classes of their codebase and quickly understand the interactions. The UML standard can be used with all the major objective and component software development approaches, making it very use-case independent. Class diagrams are one common example of the many different UML structure diagram types. They are suitable for overlooking the structure of classes and show their properties, constraints, and relationships. "UML Editor" DemoJetBrains uses UML diagrams in their IDEs to visualize codebases for their users. See for yourself, how UML Editors can visualize your information!Back in the early 2000s, JetBrains recognized the value of UML class diagrams for the workflow of developers. Every IDE started incorporating diagrams into their platform, so they, too, evaluated their options for an implementation. The free visualization libraries did not offer satisfying solutions and developing an intern solution was not cost-effective. JetBrains was looking for a professional solution that required as little work as possible. They decided to use yFiles, the diagramming SDK, and integrated it in their IntelliJ platform.Class diagrams in the editor. Source: JetBrainsUsing yFiles as their visualization library provided them access to the most sophisticated and complete automatic layout and visualization technology on the market. JetBrains decided to fully integrate the yFiles API into their IntelliJ API to make sure plugin developers could make use of the new diagramming capabilities, too. Now, they have a framework based on yFiles for creating diagrams for almost any purpose and do not have to invest much effort in diagramming nowadays. yFiles takes care of any type of diagram JetBrains needs and they can concentrate on what they do best: Improving the workflow of developers."yFiles meets the highest standards we maintain in all JetBrains products. We can offer our customers effective, great-looking diagrams with minimum effort spent on programming them."Konstantin Bulenkov, Project Manager JetBrainsThe automatic layouts of yFiles automatically generate clearly structured diagrams from the source code projects without users having to manually untangle or rearrange the diagrams. This allows developers to quickly gain an overview and understand complex relationships in their projects. When they update the code, the diagrams automatically adjust. Developer's don't need to worry about diagrams becoming outdated. The customizability of yFiles allowed JetBrains to seamlessly integrate it into their applications: By adding custom shapes, logos, and colors, many different types of diagrams could be integrated into their IDEs. With the help of yFiles, e.g., the integration of keyboard shortcuts was a walk in the park and allows power users to keep their efficient workflow even while interacting with the diagrams.Implementing yFiles into your own application can be as easy as this: Add the UML-style into the project, then create the corresponding drag and drop palette for the user to choose the elements from. Connect the UI and add the UML-layout configuration from one of the many source code demos that come with the yFiles library and the most difficult part of the work is done. When questions arise, the yWorks support team can guide developers along their way. This enabled JetBrains to implement the diagramming functionality into their products exactly how they had envisioned it.Since 2008, JetBrains has been using yFiles as the visualization solution in their products. yWorks is happy about the smooth cooperation with one of the finest IDE makers of the last decades: "We're looking forward to the next decades!"Getting started with yFilesLearn more about yFiles, the diagramming SDK, and it's powerful and flexible features for HTML, Java, .NET, and WPF here!JetBrainsSince 2000, JetBrains strives to make the strongest, most effective developer tools and speed up the workflow for developers around the world.Their mission is to make professional software development a more productive and enjoyable experience. JetBrains won over 80 industry awards and more than 8 million customers trust their tools.https://jetbrains.com
Case Study: Connect Our Kids
Visualizations can be found in places where you would not expect them in the first place. In one of our latest partnerships, we team up with Connect Our Kids, a non-profit organization based in Virginia, USA. Their mission is to create freely available tools that help child welfare professionals quickly and efficiently connect children in foster care faster with permanent loving homes. In the USA, about one hundred thousand children are in need of a permanent so-called “forever family”, as this is a crucial factor for the well-being of children growing up. The Families First Act, a bipartisan reform that provides more resources and treatment for families in need, encourages the reunion and placement in extended families of the children.Typically, adoption social workers divide their working hours between their office, foster homes, interviewing prospective adoptive families and talking to people around the foster children (e.g. teachers, neighbours, and doctors). But tracking down suitable members of the extended family circle can be a very challenging and time-intensive task for social workers and only few children can receive this level of effort. The process of interviewing people around the children, gathering information about the extended family, and assessing which relatives are the best foster-family for a child is usually a very tedious and slow process. Information gathered has to be manually stored, edited, and connected, which made the paper-based process inefficient in its nature. Paper-based social work. Source: Connect Our KidsConnect Our Kids seeks to change that through technology. Their free tool Family Connections simplifies the process involved by enabling social workers to create and keep editing a support map for each child. A support map not only shows the connection tree for every child, it also serves as an automatic contact information discovery, and it helps social workers to easily document their contact with members of the network. Connections that are typically mapped can range from direct and extended family, over doctors and teachers, to any other important person in the child’s life.Searching for contact information is as easy as possible with their automatic search tool, that goes through information from over 300 publicly available sources. This helps social workers to quickly find physical addresses and other contact information, such as phone numbers, email addresses, and even the social media pages. Furthermore, it also features example letters and example call scripts to simplify day-by-day tasks. But, the most crucial benefit is the ease of sharing the knowledge, by having a single online place for teams of social workers to visualize their work of discovering and engaging extended family members. Working collaboratively on one network is made possible by the great documentation of Family Connections: It allows social workers to share their notes directly in the support map, leaving a trail of knowledge for other workers involved. Hide DescriptionOpen in yEd LiveDownloadComputer-based social work. Source: Connect Our KidsFor the visualization component, Connect Our Kids chose to use a diagramming SDK, thereby reducing the time and cost of the development. SDKs are libraries full of pre-made code that allow programmers to take individual building blocks and integrate them into their own software, without having to program a part (in this case: the visualization) of their software entirely from scratch. The first prototype was built with a different SDK, GoJS. To generate the specific layouts needed and make the prototype market-ready, they made the switch to yFiles. The transition to yFiles was easy and, due to the similarity of the architecture, the data storage architecture and frontend framework did not have to be changed significantly."yFiles is tremendously flexible, allowing us to create the exact experience that our customers desired."Travis Collins, CTO Connect Our KidsThe "Zoom to Render" feature in Family Connections. Source: Connect Our KidsHowever, the greater flexibility of yFiles allowed the developers at Connect Our Kids to create specific network layouts and rendering features, crafting the exact experience that they desire. One of the most popular features now available with yFiles is the “zoom to see more information” feature, which allows social workers to see more information by zooming into the support map. The tool greatly cuts down the time spent tracking down individual connections and enables social workers to increase the time directly with the children, finding them permanent families.Demo "Level of Detail".Connect Our Kids makes perfect use of yFiles' "level of detail" style in their "zoom to render"-feature. See for yourself, how yFiles enables you to display your data interactively.For us, helping Connect Our Kids reach their goals is a matter of heart. They committed to the goal of helping social workers help children find forever-families. Their software is not for sale, they committed to sharing it freely with those working in the foster care system. We are looking forward to the future of our partnership. The tool will be made available nationwide in the US in 2020 and be perhaps one day even internationally available for social workers around the world.Connect Our KidsConnect Our Kids is a non-profit organization based in the US-state of Virginia. Their goal is to achieve an easy and fast connection between child welfare related professionals or CASA volunteers and possible reception facilities. Visit ConnectOurKids.org to see more information, request free access to their Family Connections tool, or support them.https://connectourkids.orgyFiles - the diagramming SDKLearn more about yFiles, the diagramming SDK, and it's powerful and flexible features for HTML, Java, .NET, and WPF here. Sources: Connect Our Kids; nacac.org; socialworkdegreeguide.org; The AFCARS Report No. 26