Lovely Charts iPad Edition now available on the App Store!

Tutorial: Automatic layouts

This is definitely one of the coolest new features of Lovely Charts V2. Currently only available in the Desktop Edition, it allows you, as its name indicates, to automatically arrange your diagram’s objects in predefined, customizable layouts, such as a Tree or a Hierarchy.

Applying a single layout

This is the simplest way to use automatic layouts. Say you have created the following sitemap, and want to arrange it all nicely and properly:

Original structure

All you need to do is pick the layout you’d like to apply in the LAYOUT panel that’s at the top right of the user interface…

Layout panel

… and tada! Here’s what I get with an horizontal tree layout applied with a 50px horizontal gap and 15px vertical gap:Horizontal Tree layout

Cool, right? Note that, if you make changes to your diagram, adding or removing items, you can always re-apply the same layout by hitting the little checkmark button next to the layout settings.

Creating composite layouts

Now, applying a unique layout to an entire diagram is quite cool and simple, but sometimes you’ll want to mix up layouts and create more elaborate compositions, applying one particular layout to some items, and another layout to the rest.
Lovely Charts lets you do that very simply, by applying layouts to selected items only.

Looking at our previous example, applying a classical vertical tree layout to our sitemap would result in something pretty difficult to use, with a small height but very wide:
Tree Layout very wide

A typical way of arranging such a sitemap would be to apply a tree layout to the home page and first-level sections and then a hierarchical layout to all child items beyond the first level (sections):
Composite layout
In order to do this, all you need to is select a section and its child, and apply a Hierarchical layout to it:
Apply hierarchical layout

Note that if you haven’t selected anything when selecting a layout, Lovely Charts will just apply the layout to everything as we’ve seen in the first place.
Automatic layouts can be applied to pretty much any kind of diagrams, but it will fail if you have any kind of “circular references”, ie connections linking back a child to one of its ascendants, like in the following example:
Circular references
In such cases, you’ll need to first delete the connection linking the bottom right child to the top item before you can apply an automatic layout. Once the connection removed, you’ll be able to apply any kind of layout, after what you can always re-create all necessary connections.

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