Lately, I have been testing Gliffy, a service that lets you create diagrams and flow charts online. I applied to beta test months ago and have been excited about it because flow charts, wireframes, and basic diagrams usually are created offline with expensive applications, but Gliffy offers the same basic functionality online using Flash. Not only that but Gliffy is also a collaborative application letting you create a diagram, share it with others, work on it together, and publish when complete. So, I’ve put it to the test, attempted to duplicate some flow charts I’ve come across online, and found that it accomplishes the task of creating diagrams very easily with great results.

First off, I have tested Gliffy by trying to recreate some diagrams that I’ve come across online. The diagram in the above screenshot is my attempted recreation of Poocs.net – The Adventures of Scaling diagram. It appeared to be a nice diagram to try making with Gliffy, so I gave it a shot.

Above is a screenshot of the Gliffy interface. Everything is entirely web-based and built using Flash so you can access and create diagrams anytime, anywhere. I was found it great how the look and feel of the interface is much like a normal offline application, making it very easy for one to get comfortable working with Gliffy. Along the top is the menu and tool selection, on the left are shape and symbol selections that you can use when creating a diagram, and on the right is your properties palette where you can change various options for specific objects and revision selection to view previous versions of a diagram. But the most important area, of course, is the workspace where you create the diagram itself.

Creating a diagram is very simple with Gliffy because of the preset symbols and drag and drop functionality. First, you specify the size of the document in the properties. You can add a background color and activate the grid as well, which helps you line up the objects in the diagram. Next, just click and drag a symbol on the left into the workspace. You can now select it, resize, add a border, drop shadow, background color, and even gradients to the symbol, much like your basic flow chart application. Then add some text using the text tool on the top. Next, just to give you an idea, you can select all the elements on the page and copy/paste to duplicate it. Place them near the other symbol and then select the connector tool, which is the icon on the top that has two points on the ends of a jagged line. You will see that corners will appear on the symbols and you can now click on one corner and draw a line to the other symbol, making a direct connection of the two. Congratulations, you’ve now got a two symbol diagram.

Now, maybe you want to get additional users working with you on a diagram. Simply select Share and then Collaborate from the top menu and send an invite to your friends that you would like to help with the diagram. As they make changes and save, you will see revisions to appear on the right column of Gliffy. You can select each revision, see who made the changes, and go back to any revision at any time if you wanted to start over on a past version. Once you and your collaborators have finished the diagram, publish it. Publishing will actually save your diagram as an image that you can easily pass to your friends. Although I have found that publishing isn’t the best in quality, it does work and allows for multiple shapes and sizes. Also, when using the dynamic url for the published image, any time a diagram is updated, the image will update as well. To get an example of a published diagram, you may take a look at the published test diagram I worked on.

Overall, Gliffy was not only very helpful for creating diagrams, but I also found it being a lot of fun to use. You get all of your basic functionality that you would in an offline diagram application but with a few extra bonuses like working online collaboratively and dynamic publishing of diagrams. I did run into some issues at times with modifying symbols and I also woudl like to see the connector tool allowing smooth diagonals instead of only straight lines because at times, the lines overlap and get mixed around a bit. For the most part though, everything functioned well and I was able to create some great diagrams and flow charts.

Be sure to checkout the Examples section at the Gliffy website to see what you can accomplish. Some of the diagrams are quite impressive like the above floor plan diagram.

View Gliffy – Draw and Share Diagrams Online.


15 Comments on “Gliffy – Draw and Share Diagrams Online”

  1. Saul Weiner says:

    Quick question: Better or worse than MS Visio?

  2. Clint says:

    Brian, thanks for the great detailed review of Gliffy. We really appreciate it. You hit the nail on the head on the usefulness of quick and simple collaboration and publishing, something Visio and other desktop diagramming applications lack.

    We have another release coming out soon with some new features such as exporting and printing that we’d love to get your feedback on. Being that Gliffy is less than a year old (Visio is 14 years old), we look forward to making Gliffy more full-featured.

    On another note, you said you had some issues with Symbol modification.. If you could email me with more of the specifics, that would be great (feedback is gold). Thanks!

    Clint, Co-Founder, Gliffy, Inc.

  3. Blogsumer » Gliffy een alternatief voor Visio? says:

    [...] Het aantal volwaardige online-applicaties groeit in snel tempo. De laatste tijd lijken vooral in de hoek van professionele toepassingen de web-alternatieven als paddenstoelen uit de grond te schieten. Na de Powerpoint-variant Thumbstacks lees ik vandaag op Solution Watch een interessante posting over Gliffy, een applicatie waarmee je online flow-charts en diagrammen kunt ontwerpen én delen. [...]

  4. gabinetedeinformatica.net » Gliffy: dibuja y comparte tus diagramas de manera sencilla. says:

    [...] Lo más interesante, como ya viene siendo habitual, es que permite compartir el documento con otros para poder colaborar en línea, en la que podemos ver también el histórico del documento o dibujo. Una aplicación que promete y que, en principio, en la fase beta será completamente gratuita. Podemos ver algunos ejemplos de lo que se puede hacer. Todavía en beta con invitaciones, otra estrategia de las aplicaciones web 2.0: para un control de los registros y que no sea masivo su uso y también por ser buena estrategia de marketing viral. Click sobre la imagen para agrandar, con mi nuevo plugin WP lightbox. [Vía Solution Watch]   [...]

  5. IT|Redux says:

    Office 2.0 Alternative to Visio…

    The good folks at Solution Watch just provided a great review of Gliffy, which is the first Office 2.0 alternative to Microsoft Visio I know of. As I mentioned in a previous post, two is always better than one, therefore I’ll wait for a competito…

  6. Ossi says:

    Gliffy sure looks great. It would be perferct for our developer wiki. Unfortunatelly we are not allowed to use hosted solutions. Do you happen to know of any similar developments which can be tied into a wiki?

  7. Gliffy Blog » Blog Archive » Gliffy Buzz says:

    [...] – Pete Cashmore at Mashable – “it’s far superior to anything else out there” – Solution Watch – “Overall, Gliffy was not only very helpful for creating diagrams, but I also found it being a lot of fun to use.” – Michael Sica – “gliffy is pretty impressive.” – Fred Cavazza (english translation) – translated quote: “…very impressive.” – A Zulu In Silicon Valley – “This is really cool if you’re looking to share flwocharts, which is currently a huge pain of MS Visio.” – Ben Atkin – “…I am pretty impressed by the program overall.” – Billy BLOGirlardo – Making A Diagram In A Jiffy With Gliffy – Francine Lévesque – “…I find the features are easy to navigate and use” – Tom Smith’s: theOTHERblog – “I like it.” – Technorati search for gliffy [...]

  8. Fashionasia says:

    anybody know where can i find free icons similar to the likes of MS Visio?
    Need to draw a nice network diagram on powerpoint. :>

  9. Gliffy Released says:

    [...] Gliffy – Draw and Share Diagrams OnlineLately, I have been testing Gliffy, a service that lets you create diagrams and flow charts online. I applied to beta test months ago and…A9.com Maps (Beta) ReleasedAmazon has just released its own mapping too, A9.com Maps, that is currently in Beta. First impressions, awesome. When you first go to A9.com Maps,…Yahoo! Blog Search ReleasedYahoo! has really been working hard this week! Just yesterday I was excited to announce Yahoo! Podcasts. Today, they made a press release stating that… [...]

  10. bootstrap analysis says:

    asides: productivity issue 3…

    Asides is an occasional feature in which I post interesting tools and links I’ve recently discovered. I’ve started grouping them in categories. You can find them all by clicking on the category archive for Blogs, links, and the like. This…

  11. A College Student says:

    @Clint: Don’t rush to quickly to add a carton of features. Guys like me are looking for a simplier, unbloated diagram tool. I’ve tried to bend a lightweight UML modeler to meet my needs, but yours looks like a better route.

  12. nana yw says:

    pls help me to draw a flowchat to compute the sum
    x= 1- 1/a +1\a^2-1\a^3+…….. +1\a^10
    where a=1.001

  13. Jonas says:

    I’ve been using Gliffy for a while and really like it. There’s a competitor out there called Cumulate Draw. It doesn’t have the features as Gliffy but doesn’t need Flash. I’ve just written a review at my blog. My blog is to uninstall ALL applications from my desktop and replace it with online tools. Check the review out at:
    http://www.myuninstalledlife.com/cumulate-draw-online-tool-to-replace-visio

  14. Andreas Herz says:

    Hi,

    you can use Open-jACOB Draw2D if you want program
    your own “Gliffy” with pure javascript OO Library.

    seen on http://www.openjacob.org/draw2d.html

    greetings

    Andreas

  15. saravanan says:

    please explain the how do re-solved