Flowcharts are one of the simplest diagrams and probably the most popular. They help people visualize a process, the decisions in that process and how the state of the process flows depending on decisions. You can draw flowcharts on draw.io, no registration or sign-up is required. draw.io integrates with your Google Drive or Dropbox storage.
There are two basic components to a flowchart:
- Activities, also known as processing steps, denoted by a rectangle
- Decisions, which branch the process flow, denoted by a rhombus (diamond).
Connectors in flowcharts are often known as "data flow".
Additional flowchart symbols
- A rectangle rounded on the right-hand side indicates a delay or wait in the process
- A ellipse or well-rounded rectangle is often used to indicate a flowchart terminator, either the start or end object.
- An open circle indicates a jump in the process. This is used with complex flowcharts to move the flow some distance along/across the flowchart without having to draw a connector.
- A square with one side tapered indicates a jump to a position in the process on another page, known as an off-page reference. The tapered point can point in any of the four main compass directions.
- A parallelogram indicates a data element, this either an input or output element. These can be used in place of activities when I/O is part of that activity. They can also be used to terminate (start or end) a branch of the process apart from the main start and end elements.
- A document is literally that, a document or report.
- A sub-process means that not all of the detail is shown in that activity. You need to drill down into that element to reveal more detail as to what is happening within.
Alternative names for a flowchart
A "flowchart" is some is a "flow chart" to others, even a flow diagram. Sometimes it's a process diagram, process map, process model or process chart. It's not worth getting hung up on the name or spacings, as some do. Most people use "flow chart", that'll do fine.