Post about "software engineering"

The Evolution of Diagram Software

Information presented as a diagram, a chart or an image is much more easier to understand then a text document filled with hundreds of words. This is exactly the reason more and more companies are using diagrams in their presentations and company documents. Because diagrams help you present complex information in an easy to understand way, many industries started using diagrams and came up with unique diagrams catered towards their business. As the process of drawing diagrams became more complex, advanced software was created for drawing diagrams.

Although there was software created for this, this was mainly used by few expert users in one specific company or used by skilled professionals like software engineers and university professors. One reason for this is that very few users had the proper knowledge to draw these diagrams and not many resources were available for others to learn how to draw these diagrams. Another reason for the low number of users is the high cost associated with these software. Microsoft Visio is one of the most comprehensive diagramming tools in the market, but it’s not practical for a user to buy a single user license if he’s only looking to draw one or two diagrams.

The price of these software were high because they supported almost every possible diagram type. The software vendor had to support and maintain all the diagram types, even though a single user will at most use five or six diagram types. Also there was not a big demand for a single set of diagram types, the only exception being diagrams related to software engineering. So it wasn’t practical for software vendors to come up with different products for different diagram types.

The popularity and the growth of the Internet is one major factor that helped shape diagram software. Because resources on how to draw these diagrams were available online, more and more people became aware of the technical details required to draw these diagrams. Once the communication became easier it was much easier to agree on standards and common ways to draw certain diagrams. As the price of hardware came down so did the price of software, making it accessible to a wider audience. All those factors contributed to the growth, but problems like different file formats used by different software vendors, poor language support etc prevented drawing diagrams becoming something truly global.

The next step in these software were online diagramming software. These Internet applications made drawing software accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. This was a major breakthrough because earlier if you started drawing a diagram at office or university and wanted to finish it at home, you need to have the software in both places and you need to transfer the files from one location to another. Another significant factor was software vendors agreeing on a common format. Now users had the ability to modify a diagram drawn using some other diagram software using their own preferred software.

Now the software vendors are moving towards collaborative online diagrams software. The collaboration has become necessary because most teams are now in distributed locations and it takes time to get something done using email, document sharing etc. But if you can share your diagram with your peers while drawing it, then you can get instant feedback and draw a better diagram.

It’s hard to predict what the future will hold, but as the infrastructure and the technology used to create these software grow we are sure to see some innovative diagram software in the future.