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Introduction to Gliffy

Gliffy is an online diagram and flowchart program that can be used to create anything from network layouts and SWOT Analysis to Floor Plans and Wireframes. Sharing and collaboration are made easy with Gliffy, making it a powerful tool for groups to use over the Internet. And, because the service is web-based, all users can be on different operating systems and use different browsers without any incompatibility issues (though Flash is required).

Gliffy interface.png

Gliffy offers a free trial of its Pro account for 30 days. After that, the Standard account with up to 200 diagrams and 200 Mb of storage costs $4.95 per user per month, with the unlimited Pro package costing $9.95. Both offer public and private diagrams and unlimited collaborators per diagram, making it ideal for large groups.


According to Gliffy’s “About Us” section, the name Gliffy comes from the word “glyph,” “a symbol or character that imparts information non-verbally.” Gliffy was founded by CEO Chris Kohlhardt and VP of Engineering Clint Dickson in San Francisco.

In June, 2006, when Gliffy was still in early beta testing, cnet blogger Rafe Needleman called Gliffy “the online Visio killer,” referring to Microsoft’s still-popular software. Lifehacker writer Adam Pash concurred, saying “if you need to slap together a diagram every now and then but don't want to pay the Microsoft premium for Visio, Gliffy looks like a solid choice.”

While at the time of this writing Visio is still around, Gliffy has nonetheless become a robust alternative. Since exiting beta testing, Gliffy has added plugins for Confluence and JIRA and today counts among its customers Apple, Cisco, Harvard Business, Dell, NASA, Garmin, Pandora, Pixar and Xerox. Customers in more than 40 countries and in all walks of life are using Gliffy.


Gliffy can be used both by individuals and by groups of individuals for various purposes.


Gliffy has wide applications for students, allowing them to practice creating visual representations of data that will someday be regular activities in the corporate world, without paying the prices a corporation often would. Also, Gliffy can be used to quickly create compelling visual representations of data and information to add to reports.

Individuals can also make use of Gliffy’s wide array of charts. Electronics experts can create network diagrams of their set-ups. Those moving or looking to rearrange furniture can create a floor plan to virtually move furniture without the physical effort or strain. Web designers can also create an easy site map to show clients or use as a reference.

Gliffy Floor Plans.jpg


In a corporate setting, the real benefit of Gliffy’s collaboration software is exposed. As corporate information is often decentralized, having multiple users contribute to a single document allows for the most complete inclusion of data. Additionally, revisions can be made to a single document — instead of multiple versions flying from e-mail inbox to inbox, each with a different update or revision, you know that the document online is the most recent (and most accurate) version.

Gliffy allows users to create all the charts necessary for business, including flow charts, organizational charts, SWOT analysis charts and technical drawings. And with Gliffy’s easy-to-use tools, less time is spent creating the charts so that more time can be taken to polish said charts, resulting in better documentation and presentations.


Watch the below video to see how to create a diagram with Gliffy.

(To play the video, please enable the Flash plug-in in your Web browser.)


Gliffy is hardly alone in the world of online chart-creation software (see "See Also," below), but it does have some benefits. The web-based diagram suite is easy to use and comes with a variety of templates out of the box. It's much more affordable than others in its field while still offering full functionality. And the ease of online collaboration makes Gliffy an ideal program to use in group settings.

Users unsure if Gliffy will meet their needs can have all their questions answered through the 30-day free trial.

See Also

Gliffy User Manual
Microsoft Visio