Lucidchart – Diagramming for Linux users

by Brad Hanks

Along with my editing responsibilities here at Linux Gazette, I work for a Utah-based company that’s churning out some pretty incredible web applications. I’ve been using our flagship product on the latest stable release of Ubuntu, and I want to share my experiences with all of you.

This diagramming tool is called Lucidchart and it’s based on open web standards, so it’s completely device-independent. It’s a far cry from Microsoft Visio and runs blazing fast on Chrome. Plus, site updates and improvements require nary a click from the end user. If you’re curious, check out this recent blog post from the Lucidchart team that compares the performance of Lucidchart on various web browsers.

Here are a few diagram types that I’ve made with Lucidchart:

  • Network diagrams (complete with the latest AWS 2.0 shapes)
  • ERD diagrams
  • UML diagrams

I’ve also heard good things about Lucidchart’s capabilities for mocking up UI prototypes and wireframes.  Lucidchart lets you add interactivity with hot spots, links, states, and demo mode. These features create dynamic action between objects, pages, and external links, and are particularly helpful for demonstrating how a live website or mobile app will respond to user interaction.

Part and parcel of this cloud-based service is the ability to collaborate with any user, from any device, on any browser.  Changes from any user are reflected instantly, which saves me tons of time on team projects.

Once you sign up, simply log in to the editor and start diagramming. To get started, drag out shapes and place them on the canvas. When you need to connect shapes with a line, they’ll automatically pop out from natural connection points on any given shape. This small detail, along with the snap-to-grid feature, really makes your diagrams look neat and professional without any extra effort on your end.

As I mentioned, it’s easy to share a flowchart with another viewer or collaborator. You can invite a collaborator to work on a diagram with you, as well as publish your diagram to all sorts of places, including:

- Traditional printed page
- Unique webpage hosted on the Lucidchart site
- Permanent online PDF link
- Popular image formats: PDF, PNG, and JPEG
- Embedded in a blog or wiki
- Shared on Twitter, Facebook, or the Lucidchart Community page

If you’d like to give Lucidchart a whirl, try out the free demo and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below! Also keep an eye out for Lucidpress a publishing tool from the same dev team.

About Brad Hanks

Computer Nerd. Linux Enthusiast. Lover of all things open source.
This entry was posted in January 2013. Bookmark the permalink.

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