Diagrams are a vital component of all effective software development processes. They serve as visual representations of the architecture and design of complex software systems, mapping out relationships between various network elements.
Understanding these structures is vital for software developers: both in the development phase and once a new platform is live. A wide variety of architectural diagrams are used by software development teams, from different types of Unified Modeling Language (UML) diagrams to C4 diagrams and flowcharts that illustrate how data flows through a system.
Creating these software diagrams can be challenging, particularly for remote and hybrid teams with distributed individual contributors. Success lies in adopting a diagramming tool that enables developers to collaborate, integrate, and customize diagrams easily.
Meet Cacoo: a powerful, easy-to-use diagramming tool
Cacoo is a real-time collaborative diagramming tool that makes it easy for development teams to work together on wireframes, flowcharts, and more. The platform combines an intuitive user interface with a powerful range of features, including multi-user editing, in-app video and chat, and history.
With hundreds of pre-built templates, Cacoo is the perfect solution for software teams at all stages of the development lifecycle: from ideation through launch. We’ll walk you through the process of creating, sharing, and customizing your very own software development diagrams in Cacoo.
Cacoo is already used by over 2 million users worldwide. Sign up for free today and follow along as we show you how you can start using Cacoo to revolutionize your software development process.
How to create diagrams with Cacoo
To start creating diagrams with Cacoo, you’ll need to set up your account. You can get started for free today or sign up for a Pro or Team account for $6 per user per month to access some of the platform’s more advanced features.
Once your account has been created, you’ll be routed to your Cacoo dashboard: your hub for managing your projects and viewing all diagrams, templates, and folders. Click the + Create Diagram button to create a diagram from scratch, or select the Template icon to use one of Cacoo’s pre-built templates.
Regardless of whether you’re building a diagram from scratch or using a template, you’ll likely want to add your own elements to customize your diagram to the needs of your project.
Cacoo provides a series of intuitive drag-and-drop tools to support this. You’ll find these in the Tool Menu on the left-hand side of your screen. Simply select the type of element you’d like to add – whether that’s a shape, an icon, text, or something else. The element you’ve selected will appear on your diagram. Click on it to edit it, or drag and drop it anywhere on your diagram.
There are various types of elements in Cacoo that are especially useful for software diagrams. They include:
- Shapes: The shapes library contains various shapes that signify different roles in software diagrams or technology roadmaps; for example, an oval to represent a start or end point or a parallelogram to represent an input or output.
- Connectors: They are a series of lines that demonstrate the relationships between different elements of your diagram.
- Library: Accessed by clicking the three dots at the bottom of the Tool Menu, the diagramming library contains dozens of pre-built elements for popular diagramming methods, including UML, ER diagrams, and more.
Using the drag-and-drop approach makes it easy to arrange different elements. Users can also format, align, group, and layer diagram elements by selecting them individually.
Cacoo auto-saves your work as you go, so you never have to worry about losing a live diagram. If you’d like to export your work to share with others, you can export your Cacoo diagram as a PNG file or PDF document. Just click the Download icon and select your preferred option: selecting Export generates a PNG file, while selecting Print allows you to Print to PDF.
How to collaborate on diagrams with Cacoo
Cacoo is a valuable tool for individual contributors, but it’s even more powerful when teams use the platform to collaborate on diagrams. The platform has a variety of collaboration features that make for seamless teamwork on complex software development projects.
Inviting collaborators to your Cacoo diagram
When you’re ready to share a diagram with others, simply click Share and enter the Cacoo username or email address of the collaborator with whom you’d like to share the diagram.
Alternatively, you can generate a public hyperlink of the diagram or embed it in a web property like a blog. Diagrams can be shared with your team members or external stakeholders, and you can manage user roles and privileges from your team’s Organization Settings page.
Collaborating on diagrams in real time
When you add collaborators to a diagram, you can all work on the diagram together in real time. When a team member is working on a diagram, their icon will appear on the sheet, and any objects they’re currently editing will be highlighted for all other active users.
It’s even possible to observe the location of other users’ cursors in real-time. This is particularly helpful for live collaboration over the chat or video chat function.
Using the chat, video chat, and comment features
Every diagram has a live chat stream that contributors can use to communicate with each other. This is a great fit for both real-time and asynchronous work, helping team members work together seamlessly regardless of where and when they’re working.
Alternatively, users can start a live video chat to hop on a quick call with their team members to share their screen, discuss the diagram, and make decisions that move the project forward.
Users can also add comments to individual elements on diagrams. If you have a request for a team member, tag them to send them a notification. Once the issue has been addressed, you can resolve the comment, hiding it from view.
Tracking changes and revisions
As your diagram progresses, it’s often helpful to look back and understand how things have evolved over time.
To view a diagram’s version history, simply click on the History icon at the bottom-right of the screen. You can also view the activity in a diagram by clicking on the Activity icon, also on the bottom-right of the screen.
How to integrate diagrams with Cacoo
Cacoo connects seamlessly to a variety of platforms within your tech stack, helping you progress your diagrams from an idea to a production-ready state. The platform integrates with popular tools, including GitHub, Jira, Slack, and many others.
Importing and exporting data between these platforms is relatively straightforward and can be accomplished in just a few minutes.
Setting up integrations in Cacoo
Cacoo integrates with over a dozen widely-used software platforms. You likely already use many of these tools daily: from productivity tools like Google Drive and Microsoft Teams to more technical solutions like AWS Architecture and Atlassian Confluence.
Every integration works slightly differently. To explore the platforms Cacoo can integrate with and read step-by-step instructions to integrate these platforms with Cacoo, visit the Cacoo Integrations section of our Help Center.
The Cacoo API
The Cacoo API is a particularly useful tool for development teams, enabling teams to automatically fetch and update any data associated with their Cacoo account. Supported data types include diagrams, images, folders, and more.
Check out the Cacoo API Documentation for further details.
Integrations with Backlog
Cacoo integrates seamlessly with other Nulab products, including Backlog, a project management tool designed for tech teams. By integrating Backlog and Cacoo, teams can insert live Cacoo diagrams into comments, tasks, and project wikis in Backlog, promoting increased collaboration and visibility.
How to customize diagrams with Cacoo
Cacoo is far more than a tool for creating simple flow charts and diagrams. The platform supports users with advanced use cases such as mind maps, charts, product wireframes, etc. With powerful customization features, there are almost limitless possibilities when it comes to what users can create in Cacoo.
Browse the Cacoo Template Library for inspiration. You’ll find beautifully designed, fully-configured templates for a wide range of software development use cases, from architecture diagrams for systems including AWS, Azure, GCP, and Kubernetes to iOS wireframes that can be used to mock up app designs.
Many templates even come with a series of elements that users can plug into their diagram depending on their use case. If you need to create custom elements, use Cacoo’s editor to create your own shapes and templates. To save your new shape, click on the drop-down menu next to your diagram title, then select Set diagram type, then Shape. Your custom shape will now be available in your Cacoo library for use in future diagrams.
Use Cacoo presentation mode to showcase diagrams
Often, you’ll have to share diagrams with other people in your organization, whether explaining how a system is structured to a senior executive or onboarding a new team member.
Cacoo has a presentation mode to help you present and share your work. To activate it, simply click on the Play icon in the top right corner of your diagram. Cacoo will enter full-screen mode, enabling you to flick through the different sections of your presentation.
Customizing the themes, styles, and colors of your diagrams
We already know diagrams are a powerful visual tool for software teams. With Cacoo, you can take these diagrams to the next level by adding custom themes, styles, and colors that match your brand.
To customize the color of any element in a diagram, click on the element, then select the Styles icon and choose the color you’d like to use.
If you want to maintain consistency across your diagram, it’s easy to copy colors using the Copy Style feature. Simply click on the element you’d like to copy the style of, select the three dots icon, and then click Copy Style.
Your mouse cursor will change shape, becoming a paintbrush. Navigate to the element you want to change, then click on it. The copied style will automatically be applied, ensuring a consistent theme across your diagram. The copy style feature enables you to copy any element’s fill, line style, and text style.
Get started with Cacoo today
Cacoo is an extremely valuable tool for software teams, enabling developers to collaborate seamlessly on various types of network diagrams, wireframes, flowcharts, and more. It’s an intuitive platform that’s easy to learn but still packs a powerful combination of sophisticated features.
With advanced collaboration tools, including real-time collaborative diagramming, built-in chat features, and integrations with various popular software platforms, Cacoo is an indispensable partner to countless development teams worldwide.
Megazone, the largest AWS premier consulting partner in Korea, uses Cacoo to draw AWS architecture diagrams for all of their client projects. The team produces nearly 300 AWS architecture diagrams in Cacoo every year and has seen the time spent on rendering designs drop by more than 50 percent since adopting Cacoo.
Giftee, an online service that enables customers to send digital gifts, used to sketch out every product wireframe by hand, making collaboration a real challenge. Since adopting Cacoo, productivity and collaboration have been revitalized. Now, this fast-growing company is even using Cacoo to design the layout of its new offices.
These examples are just a couple of the thousands of success stories that customers around the world are realizing after adopting Cacoo. Try creating your first diagram today for free with Cacoo – we bet you’ll never look back.