On the Syntax of Diagrams
Fred Lakin, The Performing Graphics Company
I find it useful to defer making the
syntactic distinction between text and graphics for
as long as possible. So I ambiguously refer
to a discernible visual chunk
like a diagram
as a "text graphic object", which may in turn
recursively be a pattern of other text graphic
objects. At the bottom finally are visual
- A text-graphic object is either a drawline or a pattern:
- A drawline is either a colored stroke drawn through
one or more locations, or an array of colored dots:
- A pattern is a group of none or more drawlines and/or patterns:
Details and Examples
graphic object notation: how the spider webs work, various
relations of spatial structure to tree structure.
And, no, text
graphic object notation is not the syntax for diagrams,
but rather a notation for describing various possible syntaxes ...
at the bottom is an operational definition of structure in text graphic images.
Romaji/Romanji text: example syntax showing how Roman
can be defined as 26 little patterns with certain conventions
for arranging them spatially.
A more detailed version of this page, with
Kanji pictograph examples, was generated
in July 2002 for Yuri Engelhardt.
Diagrams, visual languages, and spatial parsing: some definitions.
Binary Trees: example syntax; and machine
notated context free grammar used by a spatial parser to
recover underlying syntactic structure.
Bar charts: example syntax; visual grammar.
Blackboard Image with embedded diagrams: example syntax
only (grammar and parsing part of on
going work ...)
Textual BNF: character
only syntax for text graphic objects
and Romaji text.
A one Web page summary of this article appears at
the site of the THINKING WITH DIAGRAMS '97 WORKSHOP,
Portsmouth, England, January 9-10, 1997;
and a paper version was printed in the proceedings.
© 1996, 2007 PGC