Flow Charts

Subject: Flow Charts
From: "Michael West" <mike -dot- west -at- bigpond -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2011 13:37:04 +1100

It's difficult to answer because you haven't given us much to go on
regarding the kinds of "ideas" you need to represent.

If you are illustrating business process flow, then I recommend using simple
"swim lane" charts; in Visio I believe they are called multi-function
diagrams or something similar. The swim lane chart shows these essential
attributes of a business process:

. What are the component activities that make up the end-to-end

. In what sequence are these actions performed?

. By whom must each action be performed?

. What inputs are required?

. What outputs are generated?

With Visio, you also have the option of making the chart dynamic so that a
viewer can click a shape to drill down to further details or to open another
chart or document.

Definitely avoid attempting anything so "clever" that people will be unable
to see at a glance what you are showing them. Also avoid screaming colors
and unnecessary "chart junk" - icons, lines, borders, any blobs of ink that
obscure rather than clarify.

More generally, and not specifically dealing with flow charts, if you want
some really interesting and provocative examples of how to represent
relationships in two dimensions, look up the work of Edward Tufte. His
Envisioning Information is a masterpiece of thought and design. I stole the
term "chart junk" from him.

Mike West


From: Kari Gulbrandsen <kkgulbrandsen -at- gmail -dot- com>

Subject: Flow Charts

Hi all,

I am finding myself in the position of having to draw a number of different

kinds of flow charts -- showing process flow, inputs and outputs,

relationships, cycles, and so on.

I am spending way too much time thinking about how I want to draw it, and

just getting hung up on -- and I either just end up writing the description

or drawing something that doesn't really represent what I want.

Does anybody have any good reference materials that would give me a giant

step forward? That would give me some examples or guidelines on what

information to use and what to cut?

I know how to use Visio and Smart Art to actually draw them, it's

deciding what is the best way to represent the ideas that I am being given.

Any suggestions?


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