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The “Visio” of the internet

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Gliffy is a browser based software for creating diagrams. Flowcharts, SWOT analysis and floor plans are some of the wide range of diagrams that users can create. It is a free service and no signup is required.

Key Features:

  • Sharing of diagrams with other users
  • Full shape library
  • Publishing of  diagrams as images to blogs and other URLs
  • Exporting of diagrams
  • Online forum help

Collaborating with different users

Collaboration is a function that allows you to invite other users to view and edit your document. Any changes to the document can be saved. Users do not need to worry if he or she is unhappy with the revised document as Gliffy will store a copy of the previous work everytime it is saved. You can retrieve the document to see what has been changed and make amendments to it or revert back to the earlier version.

Gliffy’s role in providing its users with “rich user experiences”

Rich Interactivity: Wide range of functionalities to choose from the user interface. Different type of diagrams and shapes which users can experiment on by dragging and dropping the shapes into the workspace.

Platform Independence: Most people would be familiar with Microsoft Visio but Gliffy is the browser-based version of a diagramming software. Users can have access to this software as long as they have a web browser with internet connection. They can also edit documents collaboratively through private invitations.

Userbility and simplicity first: It is really easy and straight forward to use Gliffy. Users can manipulate shapes and arrows simply by using the drag and drop action. User interface is also neat and easy on the eye.

Match the technology usage to the requirement: Gliffy was built using OpenLaszlo to deliver multimedia content for its users.

Preserve content addressability: Users can publish their diagrams to make it public. A embed code and direct links to the document will be generated. This ensures that content is still findable.

Deep, adaptive personalization: A function called “Drawing Guides” when turned on, will detect for shapes with matching edges and center points in the relevant workspace. If a matching edge is found, Gliffy will automatically join the shape which the user has dragged into the workspace to the other shape’s edge and a green line will appear to show the new alignment. The same applies to center point alignment. Users will save all the hassle trying to do alignment which can be time consuming and frustrating.

Here’s a video demo on Gliffy:


24 responses »

  1. WOW! I didn’t know about this! I think this is something that many students and professionals would use, and I like that it’s user friendly and allows for collaboration! It’s a great example of a site that creates a rich user experience!

    • im with you mindy… being a mac user i dont have access to visio unless i bootcamp it… so this is a great find… ive had a quick play around with it and its pretty easy to use… im sure it wouldnt have a large learning curve. I wonder if Google with there Google docs and rich user experience skills have thought of making one similar.

      • Gliffy is actually listed on the Google Apps market place. So i guess there is no urgent need to buy them over or create a similar brower-based software for the moment.

    • I am taking a unit that requires alot of buisness process diagrams and i have no softwares like Visio on my laptop so Gliffy became my no.1 choice. Easy access and cost saving. And it’s really easy for my group mates to see my documents and edit them so i don’t have to meet them and now i can enjoy a nice cup of tea at home!

  2. Hmm, i am starting to have issues with reading all these blogs. Almost everytime i read one i find i need to utilise this application. I’m starting to get lost.

    Thanks for highlight thgis for me. I can see some big uses for this.

  3. I find this web-based software to be really useful especially to myself since im a mac user and dont have visio installed. This will definitely help with my upcoming group project since im given the task to do business case model. Thanx for sharing.

    • I am doing business process management which requires me to draw some process models. It has been a very handy tool to have. Glad that my post has been of some help to you.

  4. After trying Gliffy and a couple others, we’ve decided to go with LucidChart which is also available on Google Apps.

    For our company, the key differences were 1) LucidChart has real-time collaboration so you can work at the same time and 2) LucidChart has Visio import which is so convenient.

    Their newsletters have mentioned free accounts for teachers. I think the link is

    • Wow, thanks for sharing. I think the key factor that will make LucidChart stand out more than Gliffy would be the support of Visio import which is currently still not avaliable. If you browse the “Issues” column on Gliffy’s website, there are users calling for the company to work on this function.

  5. Great example!!!! Last year and the year before I did both Business Process Management and Modelling and I had a big issue with my team in editing our models. Because we used Visio, however, whit this app it will be easy for users to collaborate.
    I have heard about another good application for modelling which is Signavio. Do you know what the differences between them? And which one is the best?
    thank you

  6. I am not too sure of the difference but i do know that Signavio is only free for academics where as Gliffy is free for all. Lucy has kindly recommanded LucidChart (see above reply) which supports importing of Visio diagrams. Here’s a link for your information to check out the different diagramming tools avaliable.

  7. Very interesting and a great instance of a Rich Internet Application (RIA). I thinks the concept similar to google docs and this online app can students/people’s lives a lot easier for create their flow charts / diagrams/ workflow. Cool stuff because it’s free.
    I haven’t used Mac for such a long time the similar software to help you creat a flow chart on Mac is Omni Graffle but I think you have to pay for it for the Omni Graffle version 5 and it may cost you around $200.
    Thanks for you comment before. (^__^)

  8. Wawo… Nice app with more collaboration features…
    So much better than what i am using Omnigraffle.
    I like the fact that Gilffy is can be edited by other users too, gosh thats convenient.

  9. This is great app. I need use visio all the time when i was taking undergraduate course. unfortunatly, most of my uni’s desktops did not install visio. if i knew this app,i should go to Gliffy frequently.

    • Thats one of the main advantages of web 2.0 applications like Gliffy. It is not bounded by software installation onto your computer harware. You can access this application anywhere anytime as long as you have a web browser with internet connection.

  10. Gliffy is a great application! I have been using it for a few years now creating UML-diagrams since as a mac-user i dont have Visio. The collaboration-tool isn´t perfect however as it doesn´t happen in real-time, something i learned the hard way a while back :/

  11. Gliffy seems like a really good online application. All the five key features are useful and helpful. And the Gliffy’s role in providing its users with “rich user experiences” you mentioned supports the design pattern very well.

    • I think there are quite a few online diagramming softwares out there which are worth a look besides Gliffy. Personally, collaborative editing of documents is the most important feature that i look for because its really convenient and allows one to work from home.

  12. I have’t use Gliffy before. But it’s seem nice to use online diagrams. It’s good to create many diagrams including floor plans, flowcharts therefore, you can share it other users and publish it on the web. what about can I use this diagram manual such as adding, or back to the Auto draw if I don’t like. I mean complete control for users such as the arrows.

  13. Im happy to see how far internet applications are developing. Especially if they are free.

    I find these online programs very handy as it can be frustrating moving from your home computer to a business or university computer to find they don’t have the program that you need… this type of application solves that.

    I agree that are beneficial in trying to save space on your hard-drive. Its also very convenient due to the costs of some of the higher end programs.

    Ashley Davis


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