Seating Order Sorted! CodeUnit 01 OCT 2009

Wedding Reception SeatingI’ve always heard people bitching about just how difficult doing a wedding reception’s seating arrangement is, and finally I can now well and truly say that I still don’t get it! :P

After all, completing the seating arrangement for our wedding of 100 guests, 10 tables was completed after just two short evening sessions – and the only reason we needed two was that after the first session we realised that we still needed vital information from a couple of the guests as to whether or not they were bringing partners along, the effect of which being just how many tables we actually required (i.e. pretty important)!

[ So thanks Mr. Dave and Mr. Rikus for getting back to us so promptly by the way! :) Mr. Merkaba and Mr. Allan, we still await your intel though… ]

The speed at which the process was completed was largely due to my use of Dia, the open source structured diagram drawing application (similar to the commercially available Microsoft Visio and SmartDraw Packages) that allowed me to quickly set up a visual representation of the reception area, map out the tables and then start creating labels for all the attending guest couples, meaning that planning the seating arrangement was a simple matter of dragging the labels around the screen and deciding on which couple matched the best with which couple.

(Of course, I may as well mention that making use of our new 40″ LCD TV as the output monitor from the laptop meant that Chantelle and I did have oodles of screen space to work with in the first place as well!)

Which then brings me on to the next part of the post which talks about just how cool Dia as a diagram drawing application really is. Dia is a GNOME project (with a Windows port available) that is pretty much inspired by Visio (as claimed on the homepage), but which is geared toward more informal diagrams and thus toward a more casual user. It basically works off a number of special ‘shape objects’, that can be expanded by simply writing XML files that use a subset of SVG to define any particular shape, and using these objects to pretty much construct just about any structured diagram that you can think of, from UML, entity relationships, network and now as we’ve just seen, wedding seating arrangements. In other words, the potential usage for Dia is pretty vast indeed.

As mentioned, it comes packaged with a huge library of already predefined shapes and combining this with the various manipulation tools that you have at your disposal, you’ll quickly find that Dia is a more than adequate Visio or SmartDraw application – made all that much sweeter because of course being open source, meaning it is free for download and use! Output formats include EPS, SVG, XFIG, WMF and PNG and it even features a pretty decent print functionality that allows you to span multiple pages if you must.

So grab the Windows Installer here and give it a spin – you won’t be disappointed! :)

Dia Screenshot

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.