Get started 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
  • Diagrams
  • Diagram Element Toolbox
  • Properties pane

Each section has its own specific function.

The navigation section of the interface displays a hierarchical view of your model. Every model element you create will be inserted into the navigation section. This view acts as a tree where you can expand and collapse different elements of your model. This provides an easy way to view the elements of your model from an elided perspective. That is, you can collapse those model elements that are irrelevant to the task at hand.


In the figure above, you will see that there are three elements in the navigation view. The root element, New Model is a package. Notice the small arrow beside New Model that is pointing downward. This indicates that the element is expanded. You will also notice the two sub-elements are slightly indented in relation to New Model. The NewClass element is a class and the main element is a diagram.

In the navigation view, you can also right-click the model elements to get a context menu. This context menu allows you to delete model elements, and to refresh the navigation view.

Double clicking on a diagram element will open it in the Diagram section. Elements such as classes and packages can be dragged from the tree view on the diagrams.

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 its name.

Changes you make can be undone by pressing Ctrl+z. To re-do a change, hit Ctrl+Shift+z.


The toolbox is mainly used to add new 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 default the pointer tool is selected after every item placement. This can be changed by disabling the “Reset tool” option in the Preferences window. 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 can be unfolded by pressing the pensil button. This will reveal 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.