Gliffy – an Online Alternative to Microsoft Visio for Flowcharting

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Well, everyone is talking about Gliffy and I don;t want to be redundant, but I have to give my opinion about it as well. The program lets users collaborate on flowcharts and diagrams online. This is a very good and free (for public documents) alternative to desktop diagramming tools such as Microsoft Visio, OmniGraffle, FreeMind and many others, but with an advantage: besides being online with no extra plugin required, it also allows users to collaborate and co-author flowcharts and diagrams, which comes in handy when participating in some sort of creative process while geographically distant.

Even though the web application is an innovative technology that can not only compare but also outdo desktop applications and is definitely is ahead of everyone else in the online diagramming arena as far as professional look and feel is concerned, Gliffy is still a little glitchy (no pun intended) if not missing features. (I’m sure they will work on this soon.

One of the major flaws in it is the lack of immediate update without attaching a “version number to the file”. There are to bad outcomes of this:

1- If you and a colleague are collaborating AT THE SAME TIME on the same document you won’t immediately see the changes they’ve made to a document. I haven’t tested this on complex flowcharts but I wonder if there will be any conflicts between versions if both save their version simultaneously.

2- If you make any minor change to the document and decide to hit the “save” button, a new version number is attached to the document… So, a freak about saving stuff like me will have a v178 of a document after 20 minutes of editing and saving. 😉

Another catchy thing about Gliffy (and it is part of their business plan) is how they only allow free accounts to create public documents and require users to purchase their premium account for unlimitted documents and the option of making them private.

Competitors can be:

  • MindMeister – more focused on “mind mapping”.
  • Mindomo – same as above.
  • Mind42 – Another collaborative mind mapping tool that stands out for the array of features ranging from keywords to speed up the process of creation to assigning icons to process and creating image nodes that import images from URLs.
  • Comapping – not free but cost-effective and feature-rich collaborative diagramming solution.


Instructional Designer, learner...

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