Flowcharts are an essential part of documenting any business process, enabling teams to distill complex structures and relationships into a simple visual format. They can be shared with other teams, published on internal wikis, and used as a reference point throughout projects.
In software development, flowcharts are particularly useful. They’re primarily used to represent the flow of data between different software application elements, outlining the relationships between various programs in a wider framework.
Many types of flowcharts are used in software development, from process flowcharts to swimlane flowcharts. And they’re used for various purposes, including software design, testing, debugging, and documentation.
Finding the right tool to create, collaborate on, and customize flowcharts effectively is an important step for all software development teams, making for a more productive work environment with improved alignment between teams.
Meet Cacoo: a powerful online flowchart tool
Cacoo is an online diagramming tool that makes it easy for development teams to collaborate on flowcharts. With a wide range of pre-built templates plus a library of universal flowchart elements, Cacoo enables teams to create detailed flowcharts that summarize complex processes.
Cacoo also has powerful collaboration tools that help teams get their ideas flowing faster. Team members can create and edit flowcharts together in real-time, using features including built-in video and chat, in-line commenting, and version histories. There’s even a series of integrations to popular productivity apps.
We’ll walk you through the process of creating flowcharts in Cacoo. It’s an intuitive experience that will have your team leveraging the power of flowcharts to simplify complex processes in no time.
How to create flowcharts with Cacoo
Once you’ve completed the signup process, you’ll be directed to your Cacoo dashboard. From here, you can manage all of your flowcharts and create new diagrams, either from scratch or from one of the many pre-built templates in Cacoo.
Before you start creating a flowchart in Cacoo, take the time to gather information about the process or system the flowchart must explain. In software development, factors to consider might include the inputs to the flowchart, the use of conditional logic, and the various systems that data must flow through. Ask your team members for their input to ensure everyone is aligned on the best path forward.
Once you’ve nailed down the key elements of your flowchart, it’s time to create it in Cacoo. To start from scratch and build your very own flowchart, click + Create diagram from your Cacoo dashboard. Alternatively, you can choose a pre-built, fully customizable template by selecting the Template icon, highlighted in red below.
Regardless of whether you’re creating a new flowchart or using a pre-built template, begin by identifying the start and end points of your flowchart, then add every step that must be completed throughout the process.
During this process, add your own elements to the flowchart. Using the menu bar on the left-hand side of your screen, select the type of element you’d like to add. You can choose from shapes, icons, connector lines, text, and more.
In a flowchart, different shapes mean different things. For example, a rectangle signifies a process, a diamond signifies a decision, and a parallelogram signifies an input or an output. Cacoo has a built-in shape library of all of these symbols. To access it, click the three dots at the bottom of the menu bar, then select Flowcharts.
You can arrange the various elements of your flowchart using Cacoo’s drag-and-drop editor. Simply select the element you’d like to move and drag it to your desired location. When an item is selected, you can edit its properties: changing the color, adding a hyperlink, or inserting text. You can also align, group, and layer the different elements of your flowchart to ensure the design is easy for everyone to understand and edit.
Once you’ve added all the shapes, icons, and text that you need in your flowchart, add connectors. These lines and arrows demonstrate the relationships and flow of data between the different elements of your flowchart. Take care to account for any decision points, split paths, or conditional logic that require multiple connectors.
By now, you should have added every element of your flowchart. As you’ve been working, Cacoo has auto-saved your process, so you don’t need to worry about losing your work. If you’d like to export your flowchart or print it, it’s easy to do so.
To export, select the Download icon and then click Export. You can choose how you’d like to export your flowchart. Users with a free Cacoo plan can download a PNG, while users with a paid plan can download their diagrams in a variety of formats, including SVG, PDF, PS, and PPT.
To print, select the Download icon and click Print. Only users with a paid Cacoo plan can print their flowcharts.
Exporting or printing your flowcharts can be useful for sharing your work but doesn’t allow for real-time collaboration between team members. By inviting team members to view or edit your flowchart directly in Cacoo, software developers can benefit from Cacoo’s powerful collaboration features.
How to collaborate on flowcharts with Cacoo
Flowcharts documenting complex processes are rarely used by just one person. Most of the time, a whole team has input on these diagrams, with each team member providing their unique insight about the elements that must be included. When a flowchart is completed, it’s typically shared widely within a broader organization as a way to document a certain process or workflow.
Cacoo enables software development teams to accomplish both goals, offering sophisticated collaboration tools that make it easy for remote teams to work together seamlessly.
Users can invite team members or external stakeholders, such as clients, managers, or partners, to individual flowcharts in Cacoo. Simply click the Share icon and choose how you’d like to share the diagram. You can share flowcharts with specific individuals, whole teams, or anyone when you create a public link that others can access. When you share a diagram, you can choose whether the people you grant access to can only view the diagram or make edits.
Once you’ve added your team members to your Cacoo flowchart, use the collaboration features to work together. Below, you’ll find an overview of some of Cacoo’s most popular collaboration tools.
Team members can discuss the flowchart with each other, either asynchronously or in real-time, using Cacoo’s built-in live chat function. To access this feature, simply click the Chat icon in the top-right corner of your flowchart.
It’s often easier to hop on a quick video call than to exchange messages. With Cacoo, there’s no reason to switch over to another app: just start a video chat directly from any flowchart by clicking the Video Chat icon. During a video chat, participants can share their screens as they talk about different aspects of the flowchart.
Leave comments on specific elements of a flowchart using the comment function. Tag team members to send them a notification that lets them know you’d like their input. Once the issue has been addressed, resolve the comment to hide it from view.
Track changes with version history
As your flowchart evolves over several working sessions, it’s helpful to be able to go back and understand what’s changed. Perhaps you went on vacation and want to understand what your team added to the flowchart while you were away, or maybe you want to see which team member made a specific change to the design.
You can view these changes by looking at the version history of the flow chart. Just click the History icon in the bottom-right corner of your flowchart and select a specific version to view what the flowchart looked like at that point in time.
Managing permissions and roles in Cacoo
Not every team member needs to be able to edit a flowchart: for many people, view-only access is just fine. This is especially true for flowcharts that document how well-established processes work.
When you add new collaborators to a flowchart, you have the option to grant them viewer or editor privileges. Flowcharts can also be shared via email, hyperlinks, or embedding them in an external web page, such as a blog.
How to enhance flowcharts with Cacoo
Creating simple flowcharts is easy in Cacoo. But for many developers, these simple flowcharts aren’t enough. Sophisticated software architectures demand complex flowcharts. Developers need a platform with the capability to handle these design challenges.
Cacoo has a range of advanced features that enable software development teams to design these more advanced flowcharts. The platform comes with a wide range of flowchart templates, including those commonly used in software development, such as:
- Swimlane flowcharts: these charts plot out detailed processes that require many systems and contributors to work together.
- Data flowcharts: these display how data is processed and routed in a variety of business systems.
- Decision flowcharts: these can be used to design customer journeys, identify the variables that should be included in the decision-making process, and more.
Cacoo offers dozens of pre-built templates that can be customized for the needs of any project. Browse our Templates Library today.
Another way to enhance your flowcharts is to add additional layers of customization that go beyond the default settings in Cacoo. Use the Cacoo editor to craft custom shapes and custom templates, and save them for future flowcharts.
It’s also possible to customize the colors, styles, and themes used in your flowcharts to fit with the characteristics of your business’s branding. You can import images, including brand logos, product pictures, and more, by clicking the Import icon on the menu bar.
To change the color of any of the elements in your flowchart, simply select that element, then click the Styles icon and choose your color.
Using the Copy Style feature, you can copy colors, fonts, and line styles across different elements of your flowchart. Just click on the element you’d like to replicate, select the three dots icon, and click Copy Style. Your cursor will change into a paintbrush. Click on any element in your flowchart to copy the style of the original element.
Cacoo: The ultimate online flowchart software
Flowcharts are a central component of the wider software development lifecycle. A flowchart serves as the foundation for all the coding work that follows, specifying how systems are structured and clarifying the relationships between different programs.
Cacoo is a powerful online flowchart software tool that enables teams to collaborate seamlessly, simplifying complex processes into eye-catching, easy-to-understand flowcharts that you can share to a variety of audiences.
Cacoo is used by millions of people all over the world. There are many examples of the transformative impact of the software on teams’ workflows. Take Hotelbeds: an international tech company that connects over 60,000 travel intermediaries with hotels and activity providers.
Hotelbeds uses Cacoo flowcharts to plan and design new IT architecture projects. They start by creating simple, high-level flowchart diagrams in Cacoo, using the collaboration features to build alignment between their developers. From there, teams work closely to create more detailed flowcharts documenting complex processes. Cacoo’s collaboration features have helped Hotelbeds to cut down on unnecessary meetings and discussions, fuelling higher levels of productivity for this globally distributed team.
Start building your first diagram in Cacoo today. With a diverse selection of diagramming tools, advanced collaboration features, and ready-made flowchart templates, your next development project will be up and running in no time. Try Cacoo today.