Most people still use traditional applications like Powerpoint or Visio for creating diagrams or charting software, which isn’t always a simple task (especially if the designs are complicated or need to look pretty). There’s no shortage of easy-to-use online diagramming and design applications addressing the need, but a tool called Cacoo tries to stand out from the pack with some unique features.
Developed by Japan-based Nulab, the Flash application is entirely browser-based, free and available in English (and Japanese). Cacoo features a library of icons users can drag and drop to create site maps, wireframes, flow charts, network diagrams, mind maps, UML diagrams, and more. Much like similar tools, Cacoo users can align the design elements to each other, resize, flip and skew them, create their own components from existing ones, upload images to include in the diagrams, and more.
But Cacoo’s main selling point is that it allows multiple users to create and edit designs collaboratively and in real-time. Once invited via email, collaborators can view, edit and chat about diagrams while they’re being created. The designs can be exported (as PNGs only at this point) or shared on the web, for example on blogs or wikis. Any changes you make in the original under Cacoo will be reflected in the embedded item automatically and in real-time, which means uploading them again isn’t necessary.
The application was showcased to a broader audience for the first time during TechCrunch Japan’s TokyoCamp demo event that took place few weeks ago. Cacoo competes with similar design tools like Creately, Balsamiq Mockups, Gliffy, Adobe Fireworks or mockingbird. Maker Nulab is currently working on a number of functional enhancements, next to preparing a diagram store for distributing stencils and templates later this year.
More screenshots (click to enlarge):
Nulab is a company that develops web-based software to support team collaboration. Their main products are a drawing tool and a project management tool. The goal of Nulab is to create platforms for people to work together efficiently. These platforms improve team member communication and promote creative collaboration in order to effectively solve problems and and complete projects. Companies like Creately, BaseCamp, and Zoho offer software that is similar to Nulab’s offerings.
Cacoo is a web based real-time collaborative drawing application. Illustrations created in Cacoo can be linked to from web based documents, Wiki’s, and websites. Changing the illustration in Cacoo will automatically update anywhere it is linked from. Multiple people can work on the same illustration at the same time. Any interaction with objects by users is highlighted inside the interface to improve communication. Chat is also integrated and it is easy to share the illustrations with new collaborators.