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I'm trying to create a diagram in illustrator, and what I'm looking for is the ability to use some kind of "quick connector" like in Visio.

Basically it's the ability to make a spline or straight line connector between two points/objects, which will automatically expand or stretch as one of the objects is moved.

Anyone know how to achieve "quick connectors" in illustrator?

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5 Answers 5

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Simply put, you can't.

Illustrator offers no ability to connect objects beyond grouping them or compound shapes. Neither groups nor compound shapes will offer the dynamic ability to move objects similar to Visio.

I am not even aware of any plug-ins for Illustrator which will allow this. It simply can not be done in Illustrator.

Anchors need to be specifically selected along with a shape in order to move them together.

See THIS ANSWER for a possible workaround.

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  • agree. i don't think this is doable! Commented May 7, 2013 at 9:32
  • Thanks, that pretty much what I was afraid of. I might just need to go with Visio :(
    – Makita
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 13:11
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Use the white arrow (Direct Selection) tool and just select the right points! In the following example, the right points are rectangle + head of the arrow!

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

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  • I can't seem to make this work, I don't have "head of the arrow", do you mean "anchor? Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 1:42
  • @HermanToothrot Hello from 2022. See my answer below.
    – john c. j.
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 18:38
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I've been creating flow diagrams for over a decade and I get frustrated that Illustrator doesn't have connectors... now I use cacoo.com it's really easy to use web based app and it's free to make diagrams and export to png. THe paid version lets you share more have other users and export to various formats even illustrator, svg, pdf etc.

It's got a great connector system, very similar if not better than visio.

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  • That's what I do also in 2019. I use cacoo to make the diagram, then screenshot and redo in illustrator...and hope there are no changes.
    – curious
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 23:37
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My answer is simply explanation to the answer by Yas.

  1. Select the Rectangle tool and draw two rectangles.

  2. Select the Line Segment tool and draw a line between them.

  3. Open the Stroke window and change the end-arrowhead of the line to arrow.

    enter image description here

  4. Select the Direct Selection tool and "draw" a selection that will include the second rectangle and about the half of the line. But not the whole line! Here it is:

    enter image description here

  5. Then drag that selection somewhere. That's it.

Note that this is simply a rought workaround and it doesn't work really good.

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An easy work-around is to make your diagram in Powerpoint, which handles this type of connector fairly gracefully, IMO. Get your layout set how you want it. Then copy/paste into Illustrator. This retains vector objects as vector objects.

Key issues:

  1. Set the page size in PPT and AI the same before beginning.
  2. You have to use PPT->AI compatible fonts. I find Helvetic copy/pastes fine, but Arial gives me gobbledygook. YMMV, so make some tests first.
  3. You'll want to get it right in PPT first, then copy/paste with minimal subsequent editing in AI.
  4. If you move things around in AI, the connectors won't adjust automatically; however, connectors are still vector objects. You can move/stretch/scale as needed to make them point where you want.
  5. A single object in PPT often pastes as multiple objects in AI. For example, a text box with a colored background and a border will paste into AI as three objects, the text, the background, and the border, and they will not be grouped, so you will want to group things before moving them in AI.
  6. High-resolution rastered images may be degraded from PPT to AI. I use the PPT-pasted image as a place holder, paste the original high-resolution image into AI, and scale/align it to the image from PPT. This requires having the original image. Alternatively you can output the PPT as a high-resolution tiff, crop as needed in Photoshop or other, and use that for the rastered images. YMMV.

Hope this helps, RJ.

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