In this paper, graphical representations for knowledge structures in the design method DESIRE for component-based design of knowledge and multi-agent systems are presented, together with a graphical editor based on the Constraint Graph environment. Moreover, a translator is described which translates these graphical representations to textual representations in DESIRE. The strength of the combined environment is a powerful - yet easy-to-use - framework to support the development of knowledge-based and multi-agent systems. Finally, a mapping is presented from DESIRE to Conceptual Graphs. This provides a unifying perspective on the knowledge representation format of DESIRE and allows the use of conceptual graph tools to specify and maintain the knowledge representation part of a DESIRE specification. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.