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Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Online flowchart generator

Last year a new course started here, compulsory for all 700-odd intermediate-year engineers at the university. On the plus side, the course coordinator was wonderful about getting the library involved in their first assignment; on the minus side... well, 700 intermediate-year engineers all desperately needing to know how to cite websites and videos in APA.

So this year I'm creating an ambitious display all about citing. It's going to have whats, whys and hows; a three-step process; links to more online information; possibly a puzzle with prizes (must ransack the drawer of vendors' highlighters to see if we've got anything fun); and a tip of the day with "ingredients", a flowchart, and "here's some we prepared earlier" examples.

So I needed to make flowcharts. I wasn't going to draw them by hand or mess about with Word shapes. I remembered playing with an online flowchart generator which was awkward but workable - I just couldn't remember the name or find it again. This was lucky, because instead I found Gliffy

Gliffy's free demo lets you have five free flowcharts - that means five at any one time, as you can create a chart, save it as a jpg (or png or svg), 'revise' it into a completely new chart, rinse and repeat as many times as you like (or at least as many times as I've needed - 14 so far).

It's all click-and-drag, very user friendly. Far more options than I need or understand, but easy to find the options I do need. Colours, fonts, sizes and styles are customisable. Arrows attach to boxes so things can be dragged about and stay attached to each other. Copy and paste works!

An example of one of the flowcharts I've been making, for how to cite journal articles in APA: