In our last post, we talked about custom libraries and how they can personalize your draw.io experience so that you always have the right shapes close at hand for your current diagramming needs. Between the complete libraries provided by draw.io out of the box and the custom libraries you create, you can be covered for pretty much any diagramming situation.
But, between the out-of-the-box and custom library draw.io experience is another feature that can also make your life easier. It’s called the scratchpad, and it’s the draw.io sidekick you never knew you needed.
As any chef will tell you, a large part of putting a great meal together is the prep work. Slicing the carrots, dicing the onions, mincing the garlic; ingredients don’t come properly sliced, portioned, and ready to cook. You’ve got to do the prep work before anything hits the pan. The same can be true of diagramming.
So, we mentioned draw.io’s libraries, which you can easily use to build virtually any diagram your imagination can conjure. No library card needed (and no shushing from the librarian).
But a lot of use cases include a huge amount of shapes and connectors and images. You rarely need all of them, and the time spent searching through them all to repeatedly find the few you need can be frustrating, to say the least. You may even find yourself creating a custom diagram that utilizes shapes from multiple libraries, increasing your search time exponentially.
Scratchpad can save you all that time and effort (along with your sanity).
Scratchpad is your own, individual shape library. You can fill it with just what you need for your current diagram and then use it like any other library. You’ll find it with the other libraries on the left side of your draw.io canvas. It’s right at the top, for easy access.
To add shapes to the scratchpad, all you have to do is drag and drop them into the scratchpad box. That’s it. Now they’ll be there waiting whenever you need them as you build your diagram. You can also click on a shape to select it and then click the + button on the upper right of the scratchpad to add that shape to the mix.
You can even add recurring groups of connected shapes or process flows to the scratchpad so that they don’t have to be rebuilt every time you need them.
Once you’ve assembled your diagramming toolbox, you may want to fine-tune it a bit. Do this by clicking the pencil icon. When you do, you’ll be presented with a box in which you can add names for your shapes so you can easily search for them. You can also delete shapes and even add custom images.
Saving and sharing
Do you anticipate the need for these same shapes in the future? Would your team members benefit from being able to use your curated collection of shapes? No problem. Just click that edit pencil again, select “export” at the bottom of the box, and bingo. You’ve got your own custom library that you can reuse and share to your heart’s content.
Now, grab your prepped ingredients and go cook yourself a gourmet draw.io omelet with all the fixings.
Here’s a video for a visual primer on everything we just talked about: