AT Friday: Cacoo

In the past, when I’ve needed to create charts or diagrams, I’ve used traditional programs like Visio and even Power Point. However, recently I discovered another tool that tends to stand out from the rest – Cacoo.

Cacoo is a free online tool that can be used to create diagrams such as wireframes, site maps, UML, and network charts. Cacoo is a Flash application and is entirely browser based. I found the layout of Cacoo extremely helpful as it comes preloaded with shapes and icons you can simply drag and drop to the main canvas. Cacoo, like Visio, also allows users to edit various aspects of the diagram such as size, location, and skew.

What I loved most about Cacoo, is its very simple and intuitive design. The very top panel contains tools which users can use to edit the diagram. Although this panel consists solely of icons, it is very easy to understand. The icons are grouped and displayed in very meaningful ways. Besides its simplistic design, one amazing feature of Cacoo, is its allowance of collaborative design. Guests can be invited via email to view, edit, and discuss the diagrams in real-time. The designs can also be exported as a PNG or shared on the web.

Like any program, Cacoo also has room for improvement. One thing I found frustrating was the fact that I could only export the file as a PNG. It took me a while to get around this feature in order to obtain a shareable copy of the image.  Also, the template for the canvas is very open due to its lack of page borders. This made it a little harder for me to figure out how large to make my diagram. One thing I had trouble deciding on is the pink and blue theme. It seems slightly childish and unprofessional. However, it does give working on these diagrams a more fun vibe.

-Kristen Ford

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