I am a beginner user of Illustrator and I like it a lot. I also like to make concept maps like this one: enter image description here

I was wondering if there is a possibility to easily create and modify concept maps ?

The problem is that if I draw this diagram in Illustrator:

enter image description here

and then I move the rectangle on the left then the line stays where it is :

enter image description here

What I would like is that the rectangles are associated to the endpoints of the lines so that when I move the left rectangle then the line moves with it like this:

enter image description here

I wonder if accomplishing such a simple task with such a powerful vector drawing application as Illustrator is possible or not ? I would hope it is possible but maybe I just don't know how. Could someone please help me out with this ?

  • 3
    for this type of the task I'd use special program like diagram designer, cause Ai is much more "general". meesoft.logicnet.dk/DiagramDesigner
    – Ilan
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 9:51
  • You insist on using illustrator? I would highly recommend you try some of the suggestions from @Joojaa
    – benteh
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 12:13
  • I am wondering if accomplishing such a simple task as described above is possible at all in Illustrator given that Illustrator is a really powerful software.
    – jhegedus
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 12:15
  • I tried such dedicated concept mapping softwares but my goal is to leverage Illustrators extra functionalities.
    – jhegedus
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 12:16
  • In other words, I want go beyond what typical concept mapping softwares offer. Typical concept mapping software lack lot of functionality of Illustrators. The closest would be Omnigraffle but that lacks the handwriting feature.
    – jhegedus
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 12:20

2 Answers 2


Let me answer the question itself - i.e. how to move objects together in Illustrator exactly as you ask.

Assume you have this picture, where there are 5 rectangles and 4 direct lines pointing as provided -

enter image description here

You want to move the grey rectangle to any other position in the way where all direct lines move simultaneously with the grey rectangle to the new position.

For this you click on Direct Direction Tool (or press A on keyboard)-

enter image description here

Next, you make a selection rectangle choosing the whole grey rectangle and the points of direct lines that touch the rectangle -

enter image description here

You should see that all points have solid color = are selected, and other points have white feel = not selected - exactly as on the picture.

Now, you locate the pointer above any part of selected objects (usually Ai will note by word "path" when you above some object in question), then you Click and start dragging to any location you want - all the objects will move as you expect them to move (in question I mean) -

enter image description here


enter image description here

In a similar way you can move any object as you want: you choose the nearest anchor points and you've done.


I would recommend something like:

  • yEd, used to use this a lot, today not so much. Probably best for simple-moderately complex stuff. Good support for different formats.
  • Gephi, for beautiful big force directed graphs.
  • Tulip, havent used more than once seemed ok
  • graphwiz, I use this all the time and then do final touches in illutrator. It probably produced the image you have.
  • Mathematica, but this may be overkill.

Image done with yedit and Illustratr

Image1: A (random) graph done with yEd and Illustrator combo.

The reason is that you want to have a software that can give you a good automatic layout. Or you end up doing a lot of work. Other things if you want webpages or more options then look at:

Other software of note:

  • Microsoft Visio, tough to my knowledge has no auto-layout

EDIT in response to changed question:

No it is unfortunately not possible for a line to follow objects. But yes you can move them directly at the same time yes. What you can not bind a object to line. That is not the purpose of the application. Could it be made to work? Perhaps, I've done some experimentation with the API in this direction. It can be made to work but id can not see a terribly big market for this without the auto layout. Automatic layout algorithms for graphs are a bit tricky. When i used some effort and asked around my local academia if there was somebody there who studies this I got blank stares. The papers in the subject are a bit tricky to read and so far I've only managed to implement 3 of the most trivial routines myself with considerable effort (And two highly inefficient ones of my own). I have no plans to do anything about this.

  • Absolutely. Illustrator is not really the tool for this at all; all the examples above will be more flexible, easier, stylish, consistent and sustainable.
    – benteh
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 12:10
  • can i suggest you add Google charts?
    – benteh
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 12:21
  • Thanks Joojaa, so I cannot easily accomplish this simple task with Illustrator. That is all I wanted to know, it seems I will have to wait for ZoomNotes for Mac.
    – jhegedus
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 12:23
  • @jhegedus You can do part of the job elsewhere and then export that to illustrator that's what I do Its not so big a deal.
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 12:24
  • 1
    Considering this is basically a network visualisation question, here are some more (some may not be all that relevant, but you might get something interesting out of it) visualsquirrel.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/…
    – benteh
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 12:28

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