Create a new node with a single click, or link separate nodes easily with smart connectors. Your flowchart is just clicks away!
Easy as drag & drop
Our shape library offers all flowchart symbols and countless shapes, so you can build all kinds of diagrams.
Minimal & intuitive interface
To make flow charts more accessible, we stripped away all complicated and unnecessary features from our free flowchart creator. The result is a thoughtfully simple, yet fully capable interface.
Customize your chart with simple styling options: pick a node color, style your texts or your lines. Get creative with our free flowchart maker!
Collaborate in real-time
Invite team members and clients to view, comment, or edit your work. Whenever ready, export or publish your interactive flowchart to a shared link which automatically updates any changes you make.
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What is a Flowchart?
In simple terms, flowchart or flow chart, is a type of diagram that describe processes. These diagrams compose of blocks, often rectangular, connected by arrows. The blocks contain information of a step in a process. In such way, flow charts help keep the information of a process clear and concise.
Learn more about Flowchart's History, Tutorial, Symbols, Tools, Flow Chart Creator, Free Online Flowchart Maker, Flowchart Software, Examples and much more in our Introduction to Flowchart.
History of Flowcharts
It is not clear who was the true inventor of flowcharts, but the first standardized documentation on flow chart was first introduced by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. In 1921, the couple presented the graphic-based method in a presentation titled: “Process Charts: First Steps in Finding the One Best Way to do Work”, to members of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
After that, in 1930s, Allan H. Mogensen, an industrial engineer trained some participants in his Work Simplification Conferences in New York. Participants from this conference such as Art Spinanger and Ben Grahamthen began to use flowchart in their respective fields, which helped propagate the usage of flowchart.
In 1947, ASME adopted a symbol set derived from Gilbreth’s original work as the “ASME Standard: Operation and Flow Process Charts.”
In the year 1949, flowchart began to be used for planning computer programs and quickly became one of the most popular tools in designing computer algorithms and programs. Nowadays, flow chart is an important productivity tool, serving employees in various industries and functions.
What is a Flowchart used for?
Flowchart is a very versatile tool that can be used to:
Document a process
Present a solution
Brainstorm an idea
Design a system
Explain a decision making process
Flowchart Symbols & Components
Flowchart is a very intuitive method to describe processes. As such, in most cases, you don’t need to worry too much about the standards and rules of all the flow chart symbols. In fact, a simple flowchart, constructed with just rectangular blocks and flowlines, can already get most jobs done.
1. Flowline: Shows the process’ direction. Each flowline connects two blocks. 2. Terminal: Indicates the beginning or end of a flowchart 3. Process: Represent a step in a process. This is the most common component of a flowchart. 4. Decision: Shows a step that decides the next step in a process. This is commonly a yes/no or true/false question. 5. Input / Output: Indicates the process of inputting or outputting external data. 6. Annotation / Comment: Indicates additional information regarding a step in a process. 7. Predefined Process: Shows named process which is defined elsewhere. 8. On-page Connector: Pairs of on-page connecter are used to replace long lines on a flowchart page. 9. Off-page Connector: An off-page connector is used when the target is on another page. 10. Delay: Any delay period that is part of a process 11. Alternate Process: An alternate to the normal process step. Flow lines to an alternate process block is usually dashed. 12. Data: Data input or output 13. Document: A document 14. Multi-document: Multiple documents 15. Preparation: A preparation step 16. Display: A machine display 17. Manual Input: Data or information into a system 18. Manual Operation: A process step that isn’t automated
About Zen Flowchart
Zen Flowchart is the simplest online software to create flowcharts, flow chart, org charts, process charts, sitemaps, and more. With a minimal and intuitive user interface, creating diagrams with our online flowchart maker is easy and delightful. Our simple free flowchart maker also has Export and Publish features, which allow users to easily share their work. Try our free flowchart creator now!
How to Create a Flowchart?
Step 1: Map out major steps
Start with a piece of paper, or a free flow chart creator like Zen Flowchar Next, draw several major blocks that represent the most important steps in your process. Don’t worry about the details for now. Because flow charts are read left to right and top to bottom, start your first node at the top left corner of your workspace.
Step 2: Key in details of your flowchart
Fill in the remaining steps. We recommend working in the natural order of the process. An optional step here is to style your chart with different shapes and color to make it easier to follow.
Step 3: Test your chart
Work through all the steps in your chart to make sure they are clear and exhaustive, and that there is no open-ended node remained.
Step 4: Gather feedback & share
Share a draft of the flowchart and get feedback from the intended users to improve upon it. Flowcharts should be made easily accessible to all parties involved. So make sure you publish your work in the right place. Our online interactive flowchart maker Zen Flowchart has a handy publishing feature, which allows you to publish and share your flowcharts. Any future updates you make to the document will automatically be updated.
Types of Flowchart
From the basic flowchart, we have seen its proliferation into other variations to serve specific functions and industries. Here are some types of flowchart you may come across:
A Process Flow Diagram
Data Flow Diagram
A type of diagram that represents the flow of data in a process or system.
A flowchart with the addition of swimlane component, which helps organize the nodes of a chart into the appropriate party or team. Each lane will only contains the steps involving a single party. For example, for a hiring process that involves multiple teams, a standard flowchart may be reorganized into different lanes involving different teams to better view the division of task and handover points in a process.
EPC diagrams, or event-driven process chain diagrams, are used to document or plan business processes. This standard was developed within the framework of Architecture of Integrated Information Systems (ARIS) by August-Wilhelm Scheer.
SDL diagrams, or specification and description language diagrams are used to describe specifications of a system. In comparison to UML, SDL diagrams deal with the detailed aspects of a system, whereas UML deals with a more abstract level.
UML activity diagrams / Activity Diagrams
UML is a standardized modeling language used to visualize the design of a system. It is often used in the field of software engineering. You can view full specification here.
How to use Zen Flowchart?
At Zen Flowchart, we pride ourselves in having the most intuitive, easy-to-use flow chart maker on the market. And as such, we hope you’ll be able to create flow charts with our tool without much help. However, here’s a quick guide on the main features to get you started. Let us know if you have any issues by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Flowchart?
Flowchart (or flow chart) is a type of diagram that describe processes. These diagrams compose of blocks, often rectangular, connected by arrows. The blocks contain information of a step in a process in a concise manner.
How to create a Flowchart?
Follow 4 simple steps to create a flowchart: 1. Map out major steps: Start sketching several major rectangles that represent the most important steps in your process. Don’t worry about the details for now. 2. Key in details: Fill in the remaining steps. We recommend working through in the natural order of the process. 3. Test your result: Work through all the steps in your chart to make sure they are clear and exhaustive. 4. Gather feedback & share: Share a draft of the flowchart and get feedback from the intended users. It’s important to get their feedback to make sure that your flowchart is accurate and helpful.
What is a Flowchart used for?
Flowchart is a very versatile tool that can be used to: - Document a process - Present a solution - Brainstorm an idea - Design a system - Explain a decision making process - Store information
What are the Basic Symbols of a Flowchart?
The top 4 main flowchart symbols are: - Process: Represents a step in a process. This is the most common component of a flowchart. - Terminal: Indicates the beginning or end of a flowchart - Flowline: Shows the process’ direction. Each flowline connects two blocks. - Decision: Shows a step that decides the next step in a process. This is commonly a yes/no or true/false question.
What are some Types of Flowcharts?
These are several types or variations of flowcharts: - Process Flowchart - Data Flow Diagram - Swimlane Flowchart - EPC Diagram - SDL Diagram - UML Diagram
Zen Flowchart is the simplest software to create flowcharts, organizational charts, process flows, sitemaps, and more.