Working with Gaphor

Once Gaphor is launched, it provides you an almost empty user interface. A new model is already created and the diagram is opened.

The layout of the Gaphor interface is divided into four sections, namely:

  • Navigation
  • Main Canvas Diagram
  • Diagram Element Toolbox
  • Properties pane

Each section has it’s own specific function.

Diagram section

The diagram section takes up the most space. Multiple diagrams can be opened at once: they are shown in tabs. Tabs can be closed from the file menu (Close) and by pressing Ctrl+w.

Most elements have hot zones, shown as gray rectangles that are only visible when the item is selected. Double clicking on those rectangles allows you to directly edit the item. E.g. change it’s name or change the name of an association end.


The toolbox is mainly used to add new diagram items to a diagram. Select the element you want to add by clicking on it. When you click on the diagram, the selected element is created. The arrow is selected again, so the element can be manipulated.

Tools can be selected by simply clicking on them. By degault the pointer tool is selected after every item placement. This can be changed by disabling the Diagram > Reset tool option. Tools can also be selected by a keyboard shortcut. The actual character is displayed as part of the tooltip. Finally it is also possible to drag elements on the canvas from the toolbox.

Element Editor

The Element editor is not really part of the main screen, it’s a utility window that shows all characteristics of the selected element. Things like name, attributes and stereotypes. It can be opened with Ctrl+e.


The properties shown depend on the element that is selected.