Gliffy – Not Visio but Good Enough

As I work with both Windows and OSX, I have need of a decent program that can produce and or read Microsoft Visio type documents. I tended to use Visio on the MS platform and Omnigraffle on the OSX one. Although this worked fine for me, sometime the diagrams I need to produce don’t really need all of the features provided by those heavyweight applications. In addition, many other people to whom I send the diagrams don’t have either program and want to be able to edit or update the diagrams I produce.

Enter Gliffy. I must admit, I hadn’t seen or heard of Gliffy before 2 weeks ago, but now it has become a staple in my application arsenal. For those that don’t know, Gliffy is a basic diagram creation tool that runs either in your web browser, or as an application in Chrome. For the vast majority of simple diagrams (and some complex ones!), Gliffy is more than capable. As an example here is a diagram of a flow chart created quite quickly using Gliffy tools.

PoC Flow v2

Using my Skydrive account and a shared folder, this enables collaboration with whomever is required, using all tools in the cloud. It means that I can access and update any diagrams produced using Gliffy without having to have my own PC or MAC with me, or requiring Visio or Omnigraffle. For me that is a massive bonus; how many times have you needed to edit a document, where you don’t have the correct tool or version to hand.

You do have the ability to link into a google drive to host and share your files, but I didn’t test that as I don’t use google drive. Integration into Skydrive would be a bonus, and maybe box and a few other online services.

Gliffy has really simplified my workflow, and if you experience any of the issues I have raised above, then Gliffy might just be good enough for you too. My start place has now moved to Gliffy for diagrams, only dropping back to other programs if there is something needed that Gliffy can’t provide. But thats rare.

Couple of negatives at this time, firstly, if you like all of the stencils provided by suppliers of equipment, you can’t import these into Gliffy other than importing as images, which can be slow and laborious, secondly I’d like to see integration with a larger number of online storage providers, finally I can’t get Gliffy working on my iPad using either Safari or Chrome, that would be really cool. I’m hoping thats in the pipeline, but as it stands, I’ll still use Gliffy as my go to diagram creation tool.


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