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Diagrams: Tools and Tutorials

Being a web-developer means not only being able to design web-sites or program their functionality. Sometimes it also means to be able to explain complex issues clearly and be able to present to your potential customers reasonable and convincing arguments - 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.

Being a web-developer means not only being able to design web-sites or program their functionality. Sometimes it also means to be able to explain complex issues clearly and be able to present to your potential customers reasonable and convincing arguments - 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 web-sites 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 being is used to visualize 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 etc.

You may want to take a look at the following related posts:

List of nifty tools for drawing diagrams, charts and chart-flows

List of nifty tools for drawing diagrams, charts and flow charts

Tutorials

  • Creating Graphs, Part I undCreating Graphs, Part II by Wolfgang Bartelme. Two detailed how-to-tutorials, which explain how you can create professional, visually appealing Diagrams with Adobe Illustrator.
  • Illustrator Charts by Veerle Pieters. A step-by-step tutorial for Adobe Illustrator, which explains how to create flexible Charts which are visually appealing.
  • Charting in Microsoft Excel by 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.