I am a flow chart nerd. I use them in documenting procedures and figuring out evaluation processes. So I was very happy to see that Gliffy is available. Gliffy ( http://gliffy.com/) is an online service that allows you to create flow charts and other diagrams online. At the moment it’s in beta, and it’s free.
To use it you’ll first have to register, which requires just a user name and a password. Once you’ve registered you’ll be asked to name your first document. Once that’s done you’re left alone with a piece of virtual grid paper and several sets of diagram icons on the left, including flow chart, network, user interface (man oh MAN I could have used that about a month ago) and floor layout.
Adding icons to the page is as easy as clicking and dragging them. Once there you can resize and rotate them. A menu to the right of the page also allows you to change the properties of the icon, resizing it, changing its color, adding a drop shadow, and so on. (If you have not dragged an icon to the page, you can use that right menu to change the size of the paper itself.) Double-click on an icon and you can type in it (Sometimes you’re not typing in but below.)
Tools across the top of the page allow to add text to the page, use connection tools (hmm, I shall connect the plant to the circular table), add shapes, and so on. Once you’re done you can save the diagram at Gliffy, print it, or export it as an SVG, PNG, or JPEG. If you’ve confirmed the address with which you signed up, you can also share the diagrams you’ve created, either publishing them to the Internet or inviting individual e-mail addresses to collaborate on your diagram.
The problem with Gliffy is that people might end up wanting a lot more icons and tool sets than are currently available. However when it comes to functionality — how easy it is to create diagrams, save ’em, etc — I was impressed as all getout with Gliffy. I’m interested in seeing what their pay option looks like — my current favorite flow chart tool costs $200 and it’s not a Web-based tool. If you’re at all interested in flowcharts and diagrams give it a look.