15 November 2010

Grapholite: A Silverlight Based Diagramming Tool [Alpha]

Grapholite Logo Icon

Grapholite is a very interesting and very well executed  Silverlight 4 based Diagramming App currently in Alpha stage.

With that in mind, I still wanted to have a early look at it. Later on as it gets completed, a full review will follow.

When Grapholite states they are “A Diagramming Tool”,  they sure mean it. The app itself is pointing to be fully featured and powerful. But what sets it apart from other similar tools is what it gains from being Silverlight based.

Grapholite is a RIA app. This means it is inherently internet connected, but it still can live without being connected to the internet. And thanks to Silverlight 4, it also means it can run in the Browser and on the desktop.

Details

Grapholite will allow you to create all kinds of diagrams like:  Flow Charts,  Org Charts, Floor Plan, Network Diagrams and more. 

It got a very user friendly UI-UX as it uses the Fluent UI-UX conventions from Office 2007 and 2010 as it comes with a Ribbon menu interface.

To start using it, you only need to create a new diagram from the file tab and then drag & drop a element from the Elements Toolbox at the right.  The elements you drop are then fully resizable and configurable to interact and connect with each other.  All other features will then come very evident as you select the elements and the functions in the Ribbon Tabs become selectable.  So, the only thing you really need to understand them,  is to play with them.  One hour in and should be able to fully master Grapholite and produce any kind of diagram you need.

As you finish a diagram, you can then save it to your desktop, print it or convert it to a photo file.

Right now, at its alpha state, the main limitation is that it will only let you produce Flow Charts. This is because of the controls have not been fully set and as you will quickly also note. You only can select Flow Chart elements from the Elements Toolbox.

Other limitations at this point are not being able to convert to PDF, and the ones around the not yet finished feature set for those with Grapholite accounts. That looks to be about Saving files online, sharing files online in many ways, etc.

In The Browser

Grapholite in a Browser

You only need to load up the site, and then click through to the app and there it will be in 30 seconds.

Alternatively, if you want to keep it in the Browser, but at the same time accessible. If you are using IE9 Beta in Windows 7 , you just need to pin it to your  Taskbar.

On The Desktop

Grapholite As A Desktop App

Using Silverlight’s OOB (Out-Of-Browser) Mode, once you have it running in the browser for the first time. You only need to right click in a open area of the app, and you can install it to your desktop in just 3 quick clicks.

At this moment, since it is SL OOB mode, it don’t needs Admin Rights or will trigger the UAC (Vista & 7) in any way. So it is already Work friendly. No  excuse for not trying it out if you happen to be at work.

That said, it would be interesting to also get a SL Full-Trust Mode of the app. As this would allow for better OS integration and even more features down the line.

Some Notes

So, as you can see, Grapholite is a  potentially excellent Diagramming app. It is modern,  pretty,  well executed, dynamic and powerful.  I really want to see it finished and fully evolved to its potential.

Also because , then I can actually review it at length in another post.

If you want to check it out, you can do so in pretty much any Browser and also install it to your desktop if you are using Windows XP, Vista & 7 or also in Intel based Leopard & Snow Leopard Macs.

Linkage

Grapholite                                                                <— Homepage

Grapholite Designer

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