Say hello to our versatile 3D objects!

As promised in our last post, where we unveiled Creately’s forward thinking Text capabilities, we are now thrilled to offer a fresh new perspective, in this post, on our intuitive KObjects, namely 3D versions of the CubeCylinder and Cone. So why is this such BIG news? We’ve listed ‘em out for you below.

1. Cool Features

   

What we actually did was to create 3D objects that have a list of features associated with it. As you can see below, you can change the Position & Size of these objects along with the 3D Angle andCube Depth as well.

    

2. Such versatile Fun!

Click and drag either one of the 3D objects onto the editor and you are sure to have oodles of fun, creating and designing diagrams, like a rocket blasting off into space, a pencil and even the Tower of Hanoi below.

We’ve already established that creating complex diagrams, such as UML diagramswireframes andmockups are easy. But Creately has also quite a bit of a fun side to it, as seen by the screen shots above.

 

3. Better usability = Simple but Beautiful Diagrams

What better way to highlight this sentiment than to draw a system architecture diagram. Having a 3D look and feel to the whole diagram is certainly something that makes it look better, more interesting and beautiful.


That wraps up this post, in the meanwhile, do spread the word to your friends and peers and other aficionados of diagramming. For more interesting announcements and tips and trends on diagramming, stay tuned to this space.

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Creately is now in Japanese & Chinese, plus we fixed some bugs!

I really hope you enjoyed the glut of posts we published, which covered UML diagrams and Org Charts, recently. You can bet we got more knowledge-based posts coming your way this week. But we just had to break up this exciting trend for some other exciting news. Remember how we told you about how Creately got faster with its response time earlier this month? Well, now we’re eager to let you know that we put in some hard work to sort out quite a few bugs, like those that are related to opening up diagrams and the behavior of connectors, for good. All this, just so you can enjoy uninterrupted, intuitive, and easy and fast diagramming with just a click or two.

And there’s more swell news. It’s just over a month since we got Creately and Creately Desktop up and running in German. Thanks to our Localization Program, we’ve got both Japanese and Chinese added onto our language portfolio as well. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the hard work put in by Tatsuya Aoyagi and Cai Ping. So, gentlemen, on behalf of the Creately team, here’s a massive THANK YOU for your support!

If you have used Creately in German, Japanese or Chinese, please do let us know your thoughts. We really would appreciate your feedback. While we’ve got Creately conversant with three global languages, we have started working on getting French, Russian and Spanish sorted as well. As a concluding note, if you know French, Russian and Spanish or any other global language and are happy to help us out, please do get in touch with us. As a token of all the support you give us with these translations, we’ll be glad to offer you some really cool freebies in return! =)

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10 common mistakes to avoid in Sequence Diagrams

When talking about UML diagrams and, in fact, sequence diagrams you will realize that attention-to-detail is mandatory. We’ve tapped the knowledge present in house to identify 10 of the most common mistakes that designers make when it comes to constructing sequence diagrams. We hope this knowledge helps you when it comes to making quality sequence diagrams. Have a run through and let us know what you think.

1. Get rid of unnecessary detail

A typical mistake that software diagrammers usually make is adding too much detail when working with sequence diagrams. Say your code has quite a few branches in a particular method; this does not mean that you should include each one within the same diagram using block or scenario elements. The issue is that adding too much detail ends up with too much clutter thereby making the diagrams more difficult to read and comprehend. The same could be said when it comes to sequence diagrams at the system level. Main thing is to keep all  your diagrams clutter-free, as shown below.

2. Messages should (more often than not) run from left to right

When it comes to sequence diagrams, the message flow should start from the top left corner. Since it’s a practice in western culture to read from the left to the right, all classifiers such as actors, classes, objects and use cases, should follow this route. However, there are certain exceptions when it comes to this logical flow, for example, when objects pairs invoke operations on each other.

3. Sequence diagrams that are obsolete and out of date

Outdated sequence diagrams that are not relevant when compared to the interfaces, actual architecture or behavior of the system, become a pain since they stop offering any documentation value. This is another reason why high-level sequence diagrams work much better than low-level diagrams. The former tends to remain appropriate even as the application details are changed. They may even need only a few modifications over time in order to remain current.

4. Avoid sequence diagrams if you are dealing with simple logic

One of the most common mistakes that most of us do is waste precious time doing too many sequence diagrams for every single use case, one for the basic course of action and one for each alternate course.  It is best to design a sequence diagram only when you have complex logic that you have to deal with. If the logic is simple and easy to assimilate, having a sequence diagram would not really add any value.

5. Provide a visual trace between the use case text and the message arrows

Each sentence within the use case text ideally should have some blank space around it. Each sentence should also be in visual harmony with the message that is in agreement with the particular behavior. This will enable people reading the diagram to easily see how the system will accomplish what the use case showcases.

6. Keep your sequence diagrams abstract without the need for plumbing

When it comes to robustness diagrams, there really is no need to show plumbing, since these diagrams reflect a design view that is preliminary. Having said that it is pertinent to highlight the real design in detail since sequence diagrams are the last stop before coding.

7.  Consider behavior allocation, seriously

As most diagrammers are aware, the sequence diagram is the main vehicle when it comes to making behavior allocation decisions. You use them to assign operations to your classes as you go. Behavior allocation especially when it comes to deciding what operations belong to what classes is very important in the ICONIX approach.

8. Include the use case text on the sequence diagram

Writing the text for the use case in the margin of the sequence diagram provides a trace from the design back to your requirements. In short, the diagram should match the narrative flow of the associated use case.

9. Follow the basics when it comes to allocating behavior by using message arrows

An object ideally should only possess a single personality. What this means is that a class should ideally focus on a set of behaviors that are strongly related. In other words, state objects need to be cohesive and coupled loosely. Other aspects that you need to concentrate on include things like reusability. What this means is that when you have objects and classes that are general, you could resuse then for other projects. Also remember that methods are assigned to objects, make sure you make it a habit to ask whether there is a decent fit between the method and object.

10. Consider the origins of the message arrows carefully

This is a no brainer. You do have to see which object is in control at whatever time so that it is easy to see the flow of control. While the arrows are certainly important when it comes to robustness diagrams, they are more important when it comes to sequence diagrams. Remember that the messages that are present between objects determines the operations on the associated classes.

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Creately just got faster and more responsive

Creately was always about intuitive diagramming that was fast and smart. We’ve always made it a point to keep upgrading our systems to ensure that you face no delay at all when it comes to creating those all-important diagrams. So as tweeted by Nick yesterday, you should notice an increase is speed when it comes to certain functions.

A faster app means a happier diagrammer

Some of the improvements also includes a faster response time when it comes to functions such as Create, Save, Open, Rename, Copy, and Delete diagrams, amongst many others. Other improvements include a quick response to opening the document manager and selecting as much as five diagrams at once! It’s a no brainer as to how this could translate to real-world benefits.

We reckon our performance upgrade would save you a whole lotta time, thanks to time being reduced when it comes to the usual diagramming functions such as opening documents, creating diagrams, saving and publishing them.  But there’s more reason to cheer, our performance upgrade has inherently improved the response time for Central Desktop as well. Read on to see how.

Central Desktop is fast, real fast

As most users may already know, Central Desktop offers a complete Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) collaboration platform, which allows business teams to communicate and collaborate online. This collaborative workspace gets more powerful now with Creately’s integration into Central Desktop’s platform that offers customers the ability to translate their ideas graphically.

The new online diagramming feature makes it extremely easy for users to create a visual diagram and embed that into online documents, wikis and discussions with just a few clicks. The good news is that this process has got quicker compared to what it was.

Access our Public Diagrams faster!

A real testament as to how versatile and easy-to-use Creately is would be the vast amount of diagrams drawn by our users. Currently we have in excess of 100,000 diagrams that encompass everything from Block Diagrams to UML Diagrams. This page has been a constant source of inspiration for new diagrammers and there are many diagrams that could be graded as Novice at one end to Professional at the other end. Despite having thousands of diagrams, the time taken to load a page is now quicker than what it was. You can click a diagram to view it on the Creately Diagram Viewer, which is also fairly fast now.

There are more improvements along the way (very soon!) in the form of bug fixes. We appreciate all the bug reports you guys have sent us and we’re hard at work to make sure Creately is that much smarter to work on. We’re all for constant improvement; if there are certain things you want improved, you’re more than welcome to pop us a tweet or send us an email.  It’s true what they say, sometimes it’s those small details that can make a world of difference.

Diagram references: http://www.psdgraphics.com/icons/psd-red-speedometer-icon/

Tags: announcement, collaboration, Customer First, Features

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Productivity apps that work on Internet and Desktop

The noteworthy advantages of having an app that offers offline and online functionality is a real elephant in the room, it’s just so big, you really cannot ignore it. You’d probably recall that a few years ago, there was a mad rush to make a transition from desktop to the cloud. While proponents of both cloud and desktop apps made their voices heard loud and clear, I do believe that less than 1% of apps have united the benefits of both worlds into one compact bundle.

For those of you out there who are not that tech-savvy, the best analogy I can give you is whether you should choose a 2WD car or a 4WD pickup. Instead, why not have an SUV that has the capability to offer you both? I see a world of opportunity here and it’s not just more benefits per buck either. What better way to highlight these benefits than by using 3 apps that have 3 different functions but the same 3 advantages?

1. Availability that is 24/7 is assured

Evernote - Online Note Taking

Consider Evernote. This really smart app is just excellent when it comes to note taking and archiving. It’s perfect for keeping notes of a corporate meeting, planning your next trip by clipping together itineraries and maps, creating a to-do list, and even capturing images of your shopping bills so you can keep a tab on your expenses. While you spend your time taking notes and archiving them, you know for a fact that it can be accessed whenever you need it either on a browser, your personal computer or even your phone! Whatever said and done, there really is nothing like offline security, just look what happened with Flickr. Everything is there just where you need it on your desktop.

2. Enjoy unhindered collaboration!

Drop Box - Online File Sharing

Dropbox is a well known web-based file hosting which uses cloud computing to help users to store and share files with others across the Internet using file synchronization. So your files are saved and sync’ed across all your computers and phones along with the very same devices of your collaborators as well. Thanks to the concept of online functionality, you can get your whole team to collaborate and comment on files.

3. No Internet? No problem

Creately - Online Diagrammming Tool

In the case of Creately, which is a collaborative diagramming software used by teams around the world to communicate more effectively. Your work is synchronized across your online account and desktop through the Diagrams Anywhere feature. When it comes to the lack of Internet, don’t fret. With an app that offers online and offline functionality, you can work on your diagrams whether you are on a plane, at a restaurant, at office or at home and whatever the Creately product you use (online or desktop) all your work will be right there available for you on your dekstop when you are stuck without internet.

So would it be safe to assume that apps like Evernote, Dropbox and Creately Desktop are paving the way for productivity apps in future? That’s a question which is sure to invite quite a lot of debate. Yet whichever way you look at it, one could conclude by saying that the advantages that have been showcased thus far highlight the fact that apps, which work both online and on the desktop offer a plethora of benefits that cannot be matched by an app that provides only online or offline functionality.

Guest Post: Rohitha Perera is an Online Marketer at Creately.com, a collaborative diagramming software for teams.  You can read more of his writing on the Creately Blog or follow him on Twitter: @creately @ForzaRP

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Our favourite tricks & tips on Creately Desktop

There is a lot of cool functionality in Creately Desktop, and some may be more accessible than you think. These cool tricks in Creately Desktop could save you time better spent in polishing your diagram. Learn these to save time and improve the look of your diagrams.

Short cut keys make life Easier

We’d bet using a short cut key could save you a good half a second! Especially for those of you who consider themselves as being keyboard aficionados, access to our list of short cut keys is as easy as clicking the Help menu.

KObjects get Smarter

Details! Details! Details! Web mockups can be tough to do, which is why Smart KObjects (we got loads!) like Creately’s Accordion Pane can and will make your mockups look complete. And there really is nothing like an almost-complete website to convince a client. Working on our KObjects are as easy as tapping a few keys. For example, consider the Accordion Pane below. The following Text will create 5 panes with the second one open while the rest remain collapsed.

Putting it in Context

Our Contextual toolbars rock! Flowcharts and mindmaps are useful just about everywhere, from the classroom to the boardroom. And although there are a ton of applications that you can use to create flowcharts, we believe Creately Desktop offers the best user experience for flow-charting on the web. With these new Shapes and the 1-Click connector you can now quickly develop mind maps on Creately. It’s really that easy and fast.

From your Desktop to the World in seconds

Visual Collaboration is more than just the diagrams you draw. Here at Creately, we make the whole process of visual collaboration and sharing easy. You’ll find our new Twitter button neatly tucked away in the Share panel on the right-hand side. Check the box to enable a URL for your diagram and click the “Share on Twitter” button to publish your diagram directly to Twitter.

Online or offline, collaboration is cool

We’ve ranted and raved on about Creately Desktop and its Diagrams Anywhere feature. But the secret to it all is synchronization. What this beautiful word means is that if you, for instance,  add another rectangle onto your diagram that is housed in Creately.com, the same change will be reflected on the Creately Desktop and vice versa. This is just the cusp of it. You can change the color of an object, make a text change, comment to your heart’s content or rearrange your whole diagram and all those who collaborate will be able to see it.

Tags: collaboration, desktop, Features

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Creately Desktop is now in Beta

We did warn you that there was going to be a massive announcement two days ago.

After many sleepless nights, hours of nocturnal planning, interesting bug fixes and a considerable amount of fun, we’ve just gone into Beta for the Desktop Version of Creately . It did take some time to bring to you that same loved user experience along with the collaboration factor and dual capacity to work online and offline. But we think we managed to capture all of what our users loved into one compact bundle.

As we try to bridge the gap between desktop apps and web apps, we’ve made and named our favourite feature as  “Diagrams Anywhere”.

As the name implies… ;-) you can access all your diagrams  from anywhere – on your desktop or in your browser, even when your not connected to the web. You’ll have all the diagrams that you created on the online (on creately.com) or the desktop app sync’ed automatically across all the shared collaborators. No thinking, or button pressing involved, it just syncs away whenever you have connectivity.

So, install Creately Desktop now and let us know what you think. It IS a Beta release so there’s bound to be a few bugs. Do let us know (mail or twitter) when you find them so we can keep squishing away.

Try Creately Now

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