In this article, we will start exploring the significance of diagrams, discuss the most important and commonly used types of diagrams, and list various online and offline tools for their creation.
In software development, we need tools that help us to understand systems, to create representations of ideas, and to plan the steps and the end result of a requirement. Diagrams are very useful in software development, whether you are in a management, functional, or technical position. There are a lot of types of diagrams, but in this article, we will cover the most useful and used diagrams.
Creating diagrams is quite easy, but there are some areas that need a little bit of attention, like the name of the component, the interaction and relationships between components. This is especially because you need someone that looks for the very first time on the diagram that you created, to understand what you needed to explain with it. So diagrams are like a unified language, and we need to learn to speak it.
The most used diagrams from my point of view are:
- Class diagram
- Sequence diagram
- Flow diagram
- Use-case diagram
- Database Relationship Diagram
- C4 diagrams: Container diagram, Context diagram, Component diagram, Class diagram
Let’s get one by one to understand them.
Class diagram - is a diagram that contains the attributes and the operations of a class. It defines the relationships between classes and the constraints of their interaction. This kind of diagram is usually used to model an object-oriented system.
Sequence diagram - shows process interactions in sequence between components in the form of messages exchanged between the processes and objects needed to carry out the functionality.
Flow diagram - is like a visual map or picture that shows how things move or happen in a process. It uses shapes and arrows to illustrate the order and connections between steps or actions. It's a handy tool for understanding and explaining how something works, especially in things like computer programs or complex systems.
Use-case diagram - a use-case diagram is like a picture or chart that shows how people or things interact with a system or software. It's a way to understand what a system does from a user's perspective. Use-case diagrams help designers and developers figure out what a system needs to do to meet the needs of its users.
Database Relationship diagram - is a visual map that shows how different pieces of information in a database are connected to each other. It uses lines and symbols to illustrate how data in one part of the database relates to data in another part. It helps people understand how different tables or collections of data are linked together, making it easier to manage and retrieve information from the database.
C4 diagrams - short for "Context, Container, Component, and Code" diagrams, are a set of visual representations used in software architecture to describe and document different aspects of a software system's structure and components. C4 diagrams are valuable for both high-level architectural discussions and low-level technical documentation. They help teams communicate effectively about a software system's design, enabling better understanding and decision-making throughout the development process.
There are multiple applications to create diagrams. I will mention the ones that I used and I think they are very useful: App Diagrams, IcePanel, Creately, dbdiagram.io, Lucid, Diagramming, Canva, SmartDraw, Visual-Paradigm, Creately, Figma, Miro.
Many articles and documents talk about this topic and explain various diagram types and how to use them. In this series of articles, my main focus will be to walk you through all these diagrams and provide essential insights. Additionally, we'll practice using a base exercise, which you can find in the next article.
Please leave a comment with your most used diagram or with the tool that you use when creating diagrams.