I write and speak lots about Kafka, and get a fair few questions from this. The most common question is actually nothing to do with Kafka, but instead:
How do you make those cool diagrams?
So here’s a short, and longer, answer!
Update July 2019
I’ve moved away from Paper -> read more here
An iOS app called Paper, from a company called FiftyThree
So, how DO you make those cool diagrams?
Disclaimer: This is a style that I have copied straight from my esteemed colleagues at Confluent, including Neha Narkhede and Ben Stopford, as well as others including Martin Kleppmann.
I use an iPad Pro (10.5"), with Apple Pencil, and Paper from FiftyThree/WeTransfer. I also have a matte screen protector on the iPad which makes it feel nicer to draw on (less “skiddy”). I previously used an iPad mini with a cheapy stylus which did the job but was no use for detailed diagrams (and certainly not for actual writing)
Sketch out the diagram in Paper, leaving space for text. I rarely try to do actual handwriting in Paper, because (a) my handwriting is pretty dreadful and (b) re-editing that is a massive PITA—there are enough nice handwriting fonts to make it fairly pointless.
From Paper, export the image as a PNG and airdrop it to my Mac (or just open in Keynote on the iPad Pro)
On the Mac, use Keynote to overlay text markup up on the diagram. I use Indie Flower font.
Rinse and repeat, going back to Paper as required to make more space for text, etc.
On Keynote I’ll sometimes create white boxes to overlay and hide parts of the diagram if I just want to show a particular component.
Paper is not vector-based, and editing existing diagrams gets pretty clunky.
Since getting the iPad Pro with Pencil, I’ve tried:
- Apple Notes
- Pretty good, but not been able to get the same style as Paper with things like washes/smudges
- Keynote itself has support for drawing, similar to that provided by Apple Notes. Useful for things like hand-drawn annotations on slides (e.g. circling points of interest) but as with Notes, not been able to fully reproduce the Paper style.
- Grafio 3
- Nice for precise diagrams, but not ‘hand drawn’ style
- Adobe Draw
- I got pretty excited when I saw this as it’s apparently vector-based, but with hand-drawing support. That said, I’m either missing something or it is very primitive when it comes to support for actually building diagrams, editing content, etc. Seems more like a children’s drawing program. What am I missing?