My Mac is home to more than my fair share of art, drawing, painting, and graphics design utilities, but I can honestly say that Monodraw is the only one of its kind.
It doesn’t take much to figure out what Monodraw does, and maybe a bit longer to figure out how to use it, but maybe longer than that to figure out if you need to use Monodraw at all. If you do, you’ll know it right away. If not, justification may take awhile.
Monodraw is an ASCII art editor. ASCII art? Yeah, the kind of art from days gone by where ASCII text characters were the basis for the, uh, um, well, for lack of a better word, art. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one is worth a few hundred just to describe what Monodraw does.
Instead of a dozen floating palettes, each one with various and sundry tools of the graphics trade, Monodraw is simplistic by design. All the drawing tool palettes are simply ASCII text. Whatever you create on screen will simply be made of the various elements of ASCII.
ASCII developed from telegraphic codes. Its first commercial use was as a 7-bit teleprinter code promoted by Bell data services. Work on the ASCII standard began on October 6, 1960, with the first meeting of the American Standards Association’s (ASA) X3.2 subcommittee. The first edition of the standard was published during 1963, a major revision during 1967, and the most recent update during 1986
From that came the movement toward ASCII art. Here’s a definition.
ASCII art is a graphic design technique that uses computers for presentation and consists of pictures pieced together from the 95 printable (from a total of 128) characters defined by the ASCII Standard from 1963 and ASCII compliant character sets with proprietary extended characters (beyond the 128 characters of standard 7-bit ASCII). The term is also loosely used to refer to text based visual art in general. ASCII art can be created with any text editor, and is often used with free-form languages. Most examples of ASCII art require a fixed-width font (non-proportional fonts, as on a traditional typewriter) such as Courier for presentation.
Here’s a sample of ASCII art, in this case the logo from Wikipedia.
For Mac users who collect art, graphics, and design tools, Monodraw will fit right in. Otherwise, it takes some getting used to, mostly because of the output. ASCII ain’t pretty, folks, but it can be useful.
For example, use Monodraw for diagrams, mind mapping and brainstorming, even simple but unique banners, as well as a precise line and rectangle tool.
Features are somewhat standard for a Mac drawing tool. Shapes can be grouped and moved around on the screen. Line guides make it easy to arrange shapes, text, and lines. It’s easy to zoom in and work on a specific location of the drawing, and Monodraw comes with shortcuts to keep your hands on the keyboard and away from mouse or trackpad.
For now, Monodraw is free to download and try out (it’s beta, so caveat emptor).