Lekh Diagram Is A Nice Free App, But You Need To Pay Up To Export [Review]


The premise: quick, simple diagrams...
The premise: quick, simple diagrams...

Lekh Diagram is a clever and potentially useful diagramming app for iPad, “free” on the App Store, but not if you want to make serious use of it.

If you want to make some kind of flow chart, org chart or almost any other kind of chart, it’s easy to do inside Lekh. Scribble simple shapes – circles, triangles, squares and so on – and Lekh will intelligently turn them into neatened, straightened versions. (You can turn this off for freehand drawing if you want to.)

Draw a line and tick one end, and it becomes an arrow. There are two modes, drawing and editing – in edit mode, all your objects are movable and resizable. Some can be given rounded corners where appropriate. Tap inside an object and you can add text labels. Draw a line between two objects and it instantly becomes a connecting arrow (most of the time – I found this a little unpredictable).

Document handling isn’t all that clear to start with. To create a new document, you have to tap the “save to folder” icon, similar to the one you might see in mail apps for saving a message into a particular location. From here you can rename, delete and import documents from Dropbox.

… but you need to pay if you want to export.

Now, about the price. The app is free, but exporting your documents in any way – saving to the Camera Roll, uploading in various formats to Dropbox, or emailing to a contact – is a feature only available via $5 in-app purchase.

Export is pretty crucial for any productive use, so if I were you, I wouldn’t consider this a free app, but a trial version of a $5 paid app. That said, although it has some limitations, five bucks isn’t bad for what’s on offer here.

I rather like Lekh for its lo-fi simplicity. There are much more powerful diagram drawing apps around, but they tend to be much more expensive. Lekh has a decent selection of tools, colors, fonts, backgrounds and clever ideas to make it useful for a lot of people. There are some bugs that need to be sorted out though – for example, misspellings in the UI, and typed text that couldn’t be edited or deleted (or even selected).

To be quite honest, I think that (assuming the bugs are fixed), Lekh could sell quite well as a paid-for app, for the same five dollars it asks for as an in-app purchase. Its status as a free product is, I suspect, an unfortunate consequence of the realities of App Store economics. Free apps get so much more attention and downloads than their paid-for counterparts. This, in turn, is an unfortunate consequence of the Store’s continued lack of any kind of try-before-you-buy feature. Developers can find themselves forced to remove essential features and make them paid-for extras if they want any hope of making money in return for all their hard work. Which is a pity.

Source: App Store