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Diagramming software has changed a lot in the past three years, so we decided it was time to update the article using a lot of your suggestions from this thread. Of course, there'd be no way to list every diagramming tool in one article, so I'll leave it up to you to share your favorites or least favorites here.
The biggest thing that's changed since the original article is that online tools are much more popular. I wrote on the blog about my experience playing with some of these tools.
Staff Writer, TechSoup
I love Dabbleboard. Simple, easy to use, and easy to share and collaborate.
We use Visio 2007 from the Microsoft donations on Tech Soup. I have all my APC racks nicely diagrammed with amazingly accurate pictures of our equipment.
Gary Network/Systems Admin Berlin, NHHost Non-profit Tech Careers, Security ForumsCo-Host Networks, Hardware, & Telecommunications Forum
Thanks for pointing out the Visio donation, Gary. I'm excited to see the new features in Visio 2010, particularly the online components (PROTIP: If you request Visio now, you'll be able to get the upgrade through Software Assurance).
firstgentrekkie, I have a big soft spot for Dabbleboard too. I even wrote a blog post about it last year. I chose not to include it in the article because I think it's a slightly different class of tool than the ones in the article. At least for me, I consider it more a tool for whiteboarding and brainstorming in meetings than for more permanent-ish diagrams. But obviously that's a distinction with a whole lot of gray area.
And speaking of that gray area, I got a tweet this morning from Daniel McQuillen, creator of a new diagramming app called SimpleDiagrams. There's a free version with a few missing features and a $19 paid version. Aside from the low price, how Daniel really differentiates his product from the rest of the market is in its decidedly "non-professional" look and feel. Here's a useful diagram I spent about 30 seconds making.
Since it's a new product, SimpleDiagrams still has some kinks, but it's one I'm definitely going to keep an eye on. The paid version enticingly includes an "export to Basecamp" option. Also interesting, SimpleDiagrams saves its files as XML, which makes me wonder how it would fare in version-control systems.
Finally, I wanted to let you all know that last week I blogged about free and cheap alternatives for building charts. As I said in the blog post, it never fails to amaze me how many truly poor charts I see in fundraising letters, even from nonprofits that should know better.
I agree - both Inspiration and Mind Mapping work particularly well. Inspiration is very intuitive - easy to figure out/guess how to do and show what relationship is between ideas -- think of this as a electronic flip chart. Easy to move elements around and then to generate an outline (in a Word format)
Inspiration has been used by kids in schools as much as by business which indicates ease of use as well as its visual appeal.
I really enjoy using open source software called FreeMind it has a really easy to use interface, and can export into several file formats.
I've used FreeMind also, pretty good program. Another excellent free mind mapping application is Mind42. It's web-based and it also allows you to share and work on your maps with others in a collaborative way.
Yann Toledano, Digital Marketing Strategist
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