Diagrams: Tools and Tutorials

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. When he is not writing, he’s most probably running front-end & UX … More about Vitaly ↬

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Being a web developer means not only being able to design websites or program their functionality. Sometimes it also means to be able to explain complex issues clearly and be able to present reasonable and convincing arguments to your potential customers — in order to find the best compromise between the customer’s wishes and the standards you respect. In fact, it is essential to make sure the customer understands which advantages you are actually offering and why this or that layout and markup are better for a given web-project.

Developing websites over the last few years, we’ve been stumbling over the same problem over and over again: how can I visualize my idea easily and quickly? Since human beings are used to visualizing things, trying to understand the idea behind them, recently we’ve spent hours googling for useful tools and tutorials which would help us to create images — mostly, diagrams, charts, chart-flows, and so on.

A List Of Nifty Tools For Drawing Diagrams, Charts And Chart Flows


  • Creating Graphs, Part I and “Creating Graphs, Part IIby Wolfgang Bartelme
    Two detailed how-to-tutorials, which explain how you can create professional, visually appealing Diagrams with Adobe Illustrator.
  • Illustrator Chartsby Veerle Pieters
    A step-by-step tutorial for Adobe Illustrator, which explains how to create flexible Charts which are visually appealing.
  • Charting in Microsoft Excelby Jon Peltier
    A detailed how-to about the use of tools, which are integrated in Microsoft Excel.

Free Web Tools

  • Gliffy
    Gliffy.com is a free web-based diagram editor. It enables you to create and share flowcharts, network diagrams, floorplans, user interface designs and other drawings online. Registration is required.

Free Software

  • JGraphpad is a powerful, easy-to-use, feature-rich and standards-compliant open source graph component available for Java. Application areas include Process diagrams, workflow and BPM visualization, flowcharts, even traffic or water flow etc.
  • yEd - Java™ Graph Editor is a powerful graph editor that is written entirely in the Java programming language. It can be used to quickly and effectively generate drawings and to apply automatic layouts to a range of different diagrams and networks.
  • XML/SWF Charts is a simple, yet powerful tool to create attractive web charts and graphs from dynamic XML data. The XML source can be prepared manually, or generated dynamically using any scripting language (PHP, ASP, CFML, Perl, etc.). The Official tutorial explains exactly, how you can use XML/SWF for your personal projects.
  • JFreeChart is a free 100% Java chart library which creates charts such as bar charts, line charts, pie charts, time series charts, candlestick charts, high/low/open/close charts, wind plots, and meter charts. JFreeChart is licensed under LGPL license and requires Java 2 platform (JDK Version 1.3 and higher).

Commercial Products

  • OmniGraffle
    The premier diagramming application for Mac OS X creates flow charts, org charts, network diagrams, family trees, project processes, office layouts - or anything else that can be represented by symbols and lines. (“Standard”-Version costs $49.99, “Professional”-Version $199.99).
  • Microsoft Visio
    The Microsoft Office business and technical diagramming program solves every problem you could ever think about. Microsoft Visio is integrated in the Microsoft Office. The price is appropriate for the quality Microsoft Visio delivers.
  • SmartDraw is also a powerful Software-package, which is extremely easy-to-use and includes 1000s of professional-looking business graphics that you can modify and make your own. Price: $197-497.

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