Having grown up with case tools that over promised, under delivered and cost the price of a good family holiday it’s refreshing to find an innovative way to create a quick model or diagram without blowing the sprint budget. And avoiding the need to raise a software support request to get another app installed – if you are unlucky enough not to have admin rights on the company’s PC. Gliffy.com will give you a good range of software modelling diagrams from simple flow chart through the usual UML suspects to network and BPMN flows for free. Have to thank Sven Poppelmann for the intro to this tool and how useful its implementation can be in agile projects. We used it for simple domain modelling which helped nail scope and common language early on.
First choice for quick diagraming is still the whiteboard and iPhone to snap & attach to the wiki. But as models evolve it’s nice to have versions and a clearer picture that’s easy to change and looks professional. Gliffy’s web based offering fits the gap nicely and it’s very easy to use. It’s not a real modelling tool with an underlying repository and strict enforcement of modelling rules, which in many cases (no pun intended) does not matter too much. The main advantage of using a tool like Gliffy or Visio is the way connecting lines follow the activity / state / class around as they move. But unlike Visio, Gliffy doesn’t need a huge installation or upfront licence fee. You will need to fork out $5/month subscription fee for up to 200Mb of private Gliffy diagrams though and most commercial uses will demand this. Or if you’re really agile there’s a 30 day free option – ideal for that sprint!