On the left hand side are a number of symbol libraries, from which you can choose shapes to build your diagram.  We will use the General library, if it is not open, click anywhere on the General tab to open it and display the symbols.


Click and hold the rectangle shape (the top left shape), drag it somewhere on your diagram, and then release.  The shape will appear in your diagram, highlighted.

With nothing in your diagram selected, hover your mouse over the rectangle.  A number of crosses and four blue arrows will appear.  These are the fixed connection points, and you can use these to place a connector.

Pick a connection point, and hover your mouse over it.  A small green rectangle will appear around it to indicate that it is highlighted.


Click on the connection point, and then drag the mouse.  A green dotted line will appear, and will follow the mouse around the work area.  The line is tracing the path that the connection will follow once it is created.

When you have decided where the connection is to end, release the mouse and a connection will be created, as well as a copy of the original rectangle, connected to the other end.

A copy was created because we enabled the Copy on connect option.  However, sometimes we want to use a different symbol, and this option is not convenient.  Go to the Menu Bar again and select Extras -> Copy on connect a second time to disable this function.

We are now going to create another connection, but this time it will connect to a different shape.  Hover over the second rectangle, choose a connection point, and then click and drag, just as you did before.

We choose a point to terminate the connector, and release the mouse.

When we release the mouse this time, we create the connection, but no shape appears with it.  This allows us to choose any of the shapes available.

With the new connector still highlighted, go to the General symbol menu and click on the rhombus shape.



The new shape appears and is automatically connected to the other end of the highlighted connector.

You may have noticed a blue arrow symbol to the right of each shape when you highlight it.  Clicking on this will automatically produce a copy of the shape, located to the right of the original and connected to it.


This mimics the process we went through when we created the second rectangle using the Copy on connect option, except that this works even when Copy on connect is disabled.  There is one difference however: using the arrow symbol to copy and connect creates floating connections at both ends.  Using Copy on connect results in an floating connection to the new shape, but an anchored connection to the original shape.  See Tutorial 3 - Connectors, Waypoints, and Altering Shapes for more details.

We might decide that we don't want this second rhombus to be located where draw.io put it.  Since we already have the shape highlighted, let's drag it somewhere else.

We have dragged the second rhombus up from its original position, but we haven't released it yet.  As we move the shape, draw.io provides information that helps us to place it where we want. 

First, we see a dotted outline showing where the shape would go if we released it in its current position.  It also provides the current coordinates for that position, taken from the top left of the shape.  And sometimes we will see blue guidelines appearing.  These tell us that an edge or central axis of the shape are aligned to the edge or central axis of another nearby shape.  In the above example, we can see that our current position is aligned with two shapes, one vertically, and one horizontally.

Let's drop the shape here, and click once, away from the shape, so that it is no longer highlighted.

The shape appears in its new position, and the connector has altered its course so that it remains connected.  It is now connected to a point at the bottom of the rhombus.  This is handled by draw.io automatically for any floating connection.

Let's move the second rhombus again, this time directly below the first one.  We will know when they are aligned, because a blue vertical guideline will appear.

  Now release the mouse.  The rhombus has moved again.  This time, the floating connector has shifted position at both ends.


Sometimes we will want to change the connections in our diagram.  Perhaps we have decided that the connection to the second rhombus needs to be to another shape instead.  Start by dragging an ellipse from the General symbol menu onto our diagram.



Now we want to move the arrow end of the connector so that it connects to the ellipse.  At the moment it is connected to the rhombus, and will move with the rhombus.  To move it, we first highlight the connector and then place the cursor over the connector arrow.


Now click and drag the arrow over to the ellipse.  We want to connect and anchor the connector to a point on the ellipse, so we need to find one of the connection points around the perimeter of the ellipse.  Connection points are usually located at regular intervals around a shape, often where an axis of symmetry intersects with the perimeter.

We will know when we have dragged the connector over one of the ellipse's connection points, because all of the ellipse's connection points will appear, and the one you are currently hovering over will be surrounded by a small green square, indicating that the connector is correctly placed to connect to this point.

Releasing the connector will connect and anchor it to the ellipse.  If the ellipse is moved, the connector will follow it.


Sometimes we want to replace one shape in a diagram with another one.  Let's say that we would like to replace the now unconnected rhombus with a cylinder.  Start by clicking and dragging a cylinder over the rhombus, until you the following symbol appears:



This indicates that you can replace the old shape with the new one.  Simply release the cylinder and it will appear on the diagram.



Note that the new shape will sometimes resize itself, depending on the shape you replaced.  This cylinder is larger than a default one, but it can be resized if you wish (see Tutorial 3 - Connectors, Waypoints, and Altering Shapes to find out how to do this.)

You can also use this method to attach new shapes to an existing one.  Click and drag another cylinder, but this time don't position it directly over the first cylinder, as you would if you wanted to make a replacement.  Instead, postion it slightly to one side, so that you see the following:



Four compass arrows appear, with one highlighted (the left one in this case).  This indicates that releasing the new shape here will causes it to be connected to the existing shape. 



Let us finish this first tutorial by adding some text to our diagram.  The easiest way to add text is to simply double click at the point you want the text to appear.  Clicking inside a shape or on a connector and typing will cause text to appear that is centered within the shape.



If we want to add text outside a shape, simply place the cursor where you want the text to appear, and double click.  A text box will appear, and we can simply type into it.