Tools for diagrams, tools for slides

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is about the tools that I use for my architecture diagrams and the slides for my presentations. To save me repeating the answers in the future...

Architecture diagrams

I tend to use Microsoft Visio (Windows) or OmniGraffle (Mac), primarily because I don't use UML for architecture diagrams. When I do need to put some UML diagrams together, I'll either use the UML templates for Visio/OmniGraffle or a UML tool. If I'm working with a customer, then I'll use whatever they have to hand ... whether that's Visio or a fully fledged UML tool from a vendor like Rational or Sparx.

Architecture diagram


The tool that I use for presentations is Apple Keynote although, perhaps aside from some borders, my slides don't use anything that is unique to Keynote, so they can easily be replicated in Microsoft PowerPoint. Kevin Seal did the original iconography (the little people, soundbite icon, etc) but, as you'll see below, there's really very little to the slides themselves.


My advice

My advice for all of this stuff is to simplify the presentation of your content as much as possible and then, when you're happy, try to simplify it further.

About the author

Simon is an independent consultant specializing in software architecture, and the author of Software Architecture for Developers (a developer-friendly guide to software architecture, technical leadership and the balance with agility). He’s also the creator of the C4 software architecture model and the founder of Structurizr, which is a collection of open source and commercial tooling to help software teams visualise, document and explore their software architecture.

You can find Simon on Twitter at @simonbrown ... see for information about his speaking schedule, videos from past conferences and software architecture training.

Re: Tools for diagrams, tools for slides

Save your money on Visio or OmniGraffle... LibreOffice is free and can do any diagram you wish. Has all the features you'd want to create virtually any type of diagram. I use it for all UML artifacts.

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