Are the boring shapes and arrows on Powerpoint just not cutting it for you?  Looking for another way to create diagrams?

Cacoo is an online diagramming application that features a large stencil set that allows you to create various diagrams. (Fun fact: Cacoo comes from the Japanese word “kaku”, which means “draw”.)  Think of a diagram, and you can create it on Cacoo: we’re talking causal loop diagrams, flowcharts, mind maps, wireframes, etc. etc.  A neat feature about Cacoo is that it is an online collaborative tool, which means that multiple users can access a diagram simultaneously.  There is even a chat box at the bottom of the screen to talk to your fellow diagram-makers.

Although that option is there, you certainly do not need to use all the features of Cacoo to create the diagram you want…just like you also don’t need to pay to use this application. You can sign up for free.

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll get started on a blank sheet and have access to many stencils to create your diagram.  You’ll find the regulars, such as the squares and circles, and also other interesting shapes that tailor to your theme, like balloons and people. You can also create lines to create your variable nodes and edit the content within them. While the blank worksheet might look simple at first glance, once you start building your diagram, you’ll find that the application actually helps you align your shapes so that your diagram looks nice and professional.

You can export your diagram as a .PDF, .SVG, or more commonly, .PNG (if you just want to insert your image into a paper or presentation). Another neat feature is that when you export your diagram, the white background is not exported with it.  The image above is not a good example of that (because we wanted to show you a live shot), but you’ll be pleasantly surprised how good the exported diagram looks against a colored background.