Last week I was able to catch up with Charanjit Singh (@charanjit on Twitter), one of the three co-founders of the start-up Cinergix, creators of the collaborative diagram creation platform called Creately. Charanjit, along with co-founders Nick Foster and Chandika Jayasundara, have spent the past eight months developing a unique and powerful tool for creating diagrams and flowcharts that combine a process-driven approach to project creation, but also a social aspect that allows for quick collaboration and sharing of works.

The Idea

Like many of us, the Creately team wondered why all the tools out there for creating business flowcharts either fell in to one of two extremes: simple, almost generic programs like Visio or Dia that are frustrating to use, or extremely pricey and complex applications that include templates that employ logic but are really only designed for specific vertical markets. Add to this the fact that all of these tools were stand-alone, in other words, they were used by one person at a time to create files that were often only readable by another copy of the same application.

The Platform

Creately combines several technologies to overcome the traditional shortcomings of these types of products. First, it is built on a web platform which means that only a relatively modern browser and network connection is required to use the application. Loads of stock templates are already available and getting started is easy. Second, the objects used in creating diagrams often are imbued with logic, allowing objects that are connected together to evaluate their surroundings. For example, a diagram of a simple computer network can tell the user if adding that additional server will exceed the total bandwidth of the network.

Finally, Creately allows teams to collaborate quickly and dynamically on creating and refining charts, allowing other users to be invited in to review, comment on, and update a diagram in a matter of minutes without having to go through the process of saving a copy of a file, attempting to email it, making sure the recipient has the same program, and waiting for a reply.

Charanjit sums this up the Creately goal succinctly when he says:

"We want to offer users an easy to use visual platform that will have the richness of specialized tools without the clutter, complexity and price tag that comes with them - for the networked generation."

Our Take

We found Creately fun to use and definitely easier and more logical than other diagramming tools we have used in the past. Every part of the user interface has been carefully considered to optimize your time creating the chart, not dealing with getting arrows exactly lined up and other annoyances. Creately sports a wide range of object sets from simple flowchart types to a variety of attractive clipart sets. Also, collaboration was easy. There is a sidebar that can be used to invite other people to collaborate, and revision history is always available.

200 Free Beta Invites

Last but not least, Charan came through for ReadWriteWeb readers by offering 200 invites to use Creately free of charge! So please, take Creately for a spin and give them your feedback. Also, be sure to check the Creately blog, where they are constantly announcing new projects, like their recent URL shortener for sharing charts you have created!