2017
21
September

5 Best Practices for Using Lucidchart in Software Development

If you count yourself among the nine million people who use Lucidchart, you have probably enjoyed our easy drag-and-drop functionality and compatibility across operating systems when you’re working visually. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Check out these tips, selected specifically for software developers, to make sure you’re making the most of all Lucidchart features.

And, if you haven’t tried Lucidchart yet, it’s free to get started. Our visual productivity platform allows you to create and share flowcharts, network diagrams, UML diagrams, mind maps, and other visuals that will increase clarity as you build innovative software. Start diagramming for free at lucidchart.com!

  1. Integrate with Atlassian.

Over 89,000 companies around the world use Atlassian to develop software and manage projects—if you’re part of the 89,000, start using Lucidchart in the environment you’re most familiar with.

Integrate Lucidchart with Confluence and Jira and embed your diagrams easily into other documentation. Add org charts, workflows, and other visuals in Confluence wikis and update them in one click. Attach user flows and mockups to Jira issues so you can work through bugs or stories faster.

Now Lucidchart also integrates with Bitbucket! On our blog, Rodney West has explained why developers should use diagrams as they document their systems, but we understand that creating documentation still takes time away from other work, even with an intuitive platform like Lucidchart. Our new app takes away this burden. The app allows you to generate UML class diagrams from code in your Bitbucket repo, so you can onboard new developers quickly or find the exact spot you need in your source code.

Ali Khan, Director of Technology Operations at Warby Parker, used the Confluence integration to step up his team’s game: “We originally found Lucidchart while we were looking for something to design org charts and flowcharts within Confluence, since we use our Confluence wiki to collaborate on all documentation. When we found a Lucidchart plugin, we looked at it and thought, ‘This could really work for us.’” See what it could do for you!

  1. Drag and drop swimlanes.

It takes a lot of people to release exceptional software, from the product manager who prioritizes new features to the QA specialist who squashes bugs before they become a pain for customers. Use swimlanes to ensure that every team member knows what their responsibilities are and when to perform them.

Lucidchart users have called our swimlanes the “bee’s knees”—you can drag and drop swimlanes onto the canvas, and all of the items you place within a swimlane will move along with it when you need to adjust your workflow.

If you haven’t accessed swimlanes yet, follow these steps:

  1. Click “+ Shapes” on the left-hand side of the editor.
  2. Go to “Flowchart Shapes” and click the checkbox next to the “Containers” library.
  3. Click “Save.”
  4. Drag a swimlane from your new shape library, and use the dialog that appears to add lanes or switch the orientation.

Lucidchart is the easiest swimlane diagram creator out there—Justin Grindal at GTS Technical Services can testify: “I can put together panels for a swimlane, and I can drag those around. And it makes it easy to add, subtract, and change those swimlane charts. That’s one of the things I appreciate most about Lucidchart.” Don’t take his word for it. Add the swimlane shape library, and give it a shot!

  1. Share and comment to keep teams on the same page.

Lucidchart began as a way to easily collaborate on diagrams instead of dealing with versioning issues due to sending diagrams back and forth via email. Collaboration is still one of Lucidchart’s most important features. Try these tricks to gather feedback, share documentation, or build with your team:

  • Click the orange “Share” button in the top-right corner to send, publish, or embed documents. When you enter the name of the person you’d like to share with, you can also choose whether they can edit, comment on, or merely view the document. Prevent unintended changes by only giving access to those who need it.
  • If you need feedback on a particular part of the diagram, right-click on a shape and select “Add Comment.” You can also put @ and the person’s name to alert them of the comment.
  • Want to give general feedback on the document? Click the quote bubble icon to the right and start a chat.
  • Try revision history when you want to revert back to an old process. Just look for the clock icon on the right side of the editor.

With these features, you can solve problems and reach consensus without ever having to leave Lucidchart. Alberto Calva, GTM Manager at Western Union, explained the benefits he’s seen with our sharing features: “I love that you have the option to invite others to participate in the same diagram. You can raise questions on a specific part of a process and assign someone to answer directly in the product. This helps us solve our problems and finish our diagrams faster.”

  1. Use hotspots to add other information or toggle between layers.

Hotspots make your diagrams interactive and consolidate information into one single source of truth. You can use hotspots to:

  • Toggle layers during a presentation to show the differences between current and ideal states of a process or system. To add a layer, you simply need to click “Layers” on the right-hand side of the editor and then click “+ Layer.”
  • Link to forms, emails, or other documentation so you can complete a task as soon as you see it on the workflow.
  • Link mockups to user flows to get a sense of the complete user experience. See how Mozilla used this feature in their user flow diagrams.

To add a hotspot in Lucidchart, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on a shape, and select “Add Hotspot.”
  2. In the dialog that appears, choose an action.
  3. Fill out any additional information (e.g. if you selected “Show Layers,” you need to select which layers to show).
  4. To add another action to the hotspot, select “+ Action.” You can edit a hotspot at any time by clicking the gear icon next to it.

The combination of layers and hotspots has helped Mark Roke, Technical Product Manager at Clearvision, propose new ideas without erasing the current workflow: “Layers is one of the best thing I have seen in a charting tool. I can change my chart without actually changing my chart!”

With hotspots in Lucidchart, you can impress stakeholders and make sure your team is only ever one click from the information they need.

  1. Simplify your Gantt charts.

Project managers have often used Gantt charts to assign tasks and to ensure they are completed on schedule, but these charts aren’t necessarily the best fit for product development. They are complicated, they often require expensive software, and they aren’t flexible enough for the world of agile.

Try Lucidchart’s timeline shape library instead. You can create a simplified visual to show when tasks will be completed and update it in seconds. If you have a Lucidchart Pro account, just click “+ Shapes” and add a checkmark next to “Timeline.”

And there you have it—see how visual thinking in Lucidchart can improve the way you develop software. Have any questions about Lucidchart? Leave a comment, and we’re happy to dole out more tips and tricks.

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