C4 Modelling little bit easier (c4-draw.io)

Github-Pages on: https://tobiashochguertel.github.io/c4-draw.io/ (which is the same as the README.adoc file, but I think it’s better to read there…​)


You can make C4 Architecture Software System Models with draw.io.

This is a C4 Modelling plugin for draw.io, which provides C4 Notation Elements in draw.io.

Quick Start

  1. Access to https://www.draw.io/.

  2. Save the drawing, or decide later: FileSaveOption

  3. Open the plugin dialog: ExtrasPlugins

  4. Open the add plugin dialog with an click: Add

  5. Put in the field Enter Value (URL): the link to the plugin: https://tobiashochguertel.github.io/c4-draw.io/c4.js

  6. Click on Apply

  7. Reload the page! to see the C4 Notation Shapes in the shape panel (figure 1).

figure 1: After the reload, the C4 Notation Shapes are available from the shape panel:



figure 2: Quick demostration of how to use the c4-model plugin:

c4 draw.io preview demostration

  1. Drag a C4 notation shape on the diagram paper

  2. The most C4 notation shapes provide an small gear icon when they are selected. (figure 3)

  3. Edit the Properties of the selected C4 Notation Shape: (figure 4)

    1. Click the small gear to open the properties dialog (figure 3)

    2. Press the key-stroke CMD+M to open the properties dialog (figure 3)

    3. ,or use the menu: EditEdit Data (CMD+M) (figure 6)

  4. Input Cursor / Focus is on the first field of the dialog, and with tab you can jump through the fields and submit (figure 5).

figure 3: Location of the small gear, to open the properties dialog:

small gear on c4 person shape

figure 4: Example of properties dialog of an C4-Person notation shape:

Data Editor Dialog to set the oroperties

figure 5: Control tab order of the properties fields:

Control Tab Order of C4 Notation Shape Properties Dialog

figure 6: Other way to open the properties dialog:

Open the Properties Dialog from Menu bar

Good-to-Know about the C4 shapes:

  • Some C4 shapes have issues/limitations which I description in this section:

C4-Relationship Notation shape:
  • Has also a properties dialog, but the small gear icon isn’t available with this shape. (technical reason, I haven’t found a solution, yet.)

  • To open for a C4 Relationship shape the Properties Editor: — key-stroke or over menu.

C4-Person Notation shape:
  • Has also a little technical issue, to open the properties dialog, — gear icon or over menu.

Modify the text on the shapes directly rather than using the properties dialog:
  1. is possible,

  2. can be hany when you want to (re-)format the text, e.g. bold, italic, font size or when you want to insert a line break within the text/properties.

  3. but keep in mind,

  4. if you change the text here directly, and as next open the properties dialog of this shape, your changes will get lost because the informations on the shape will be reseted to the values from the properties dialog.

Sorry for these issues, I keep fixing these in my spare time, feel free to create an issue, or provide an pull request, hints and ideas what We could improve!
— Tobias Hochgürtel


Table 1. Table 1: Key-Strokes
Key-Stroke Description


Open’s the Data-Editor Dialog (properties dialog) of an selected shape on the diagramm.


I want to thank the following people and organisations:

  • Draw.io Plugin: AWS Step Functions Workflow Designer, which has inspired me to done this plugin, and what I use as code-base to done the plugin.

  • C4Model Auhtor: Simon Brown, thanks for let me know that this us useful and thanks for sharing your knowledge about software architecture.

  • draw.io, to provide draw.io as open source software system.