Gliffy, diagram creator

February 17th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Drawing in vector graphics on the web has been available with the dawn of Flash and made more popular by Ajax. AjaxSketch is one of the leaders web based vector graphics and as the name suggests, it's made with Ajax technology. Gliffy on the other hand is a diagram creator that also uses vector graphics is Flash based.

The use of a flash based vector graphics sketch pad is actually a smart move since Flash itself is already in vector graphics format. Although the use of Flash automatically disables the right click function which gives rise to the many many buttons in the interface of Gliffy.

Gliffy is specific to diagrams but they do not really control how users will utilize their available preset symbols. These symbols are notable and specifically categorized according to where they are used. The categories include Flowchart, UML, Network, User Interface, and my favorite Floorplan. These categories contain symbols that are used when making diagrams of them, for example, the flowchart symbols have the diamond for decisions and the circles for terminals, the floor plan symbols have the toilet, sink and bath tubs, and the network symbols has the hub, switch, firewall and servers. Aside from the categorized vector graphic symbols, the user also has the option of adding images from the web or hard drive as well basic shapes.

Laying out diagrams in Gliffy is done by drag and dropping symbols onto the canvass. Once on the canvass, the symbols can then be resized and some of its properties like line color and weight and fill colors can be modified with the options palette. And as diagrams usually require, connecting lines and arrows are all available in on the toolbar.

Saving and sharing are all done as it would on a desktop program. The default saving directory is online at (in the user's account). Moreover, diagrams can also be saved on the hard drive. Sharing is available, an embed code i provided when requested as well as 4 other URLs for differrent sharing methods.

All in all, the design and concept of Gliffy (especially the drag and drop symbols) ver attractive yet the features of the service is hampered by the chosen technology. Personally, I think it would be better if it was done in Ajax.