Once you’ve decided to create a new document or open an existing diagram, you are inside the editor. The primary areas of the editor are the menu bar, the toolbox or shape library, properties bar, dock, and of course the canvas. We have a lot of great features to work with, so I’ll give you the high level overview and then you can take some time on your own to click around.
The toolbox is the best place to start. If there is a certain library not appearing, click the “More Shapes” button at the bottom and select which libraries you’d like accessible. Once those shapes are out, you can drag and drop shapes from the toolbox to start building your diagram and then use the areas of the editor to modify them. At the top of the toolbox, you can use the Google search bar that searches through Google Images, Iconfinder, and the entire shape library. If you want to add your own images, simply drag them straight onto the canvas from your computer, or use the image manager to upload images and organize them with tags. If you are in a team environment, you will also see your team members’ public images.
Now you know where to get your objects, let me show you how to customize them. This will take place from the properties bar, dock, and the menu bar.
The properties bar is meant to style your text, shapes, or lines in the editor and is activated when you have selected one of those items. If text is selected you can change the font type, color, size, and other formatting. If it’s a shape, you can change the border color, fill color, add shadows, or get more technical by adding a link action to the shape. Lines are similar to shapes, changing the thickness and color, but you can also choose if you want the lines to be round, elbowed, or straight. Changing the arrow styles are in the drop down menus, and quickly switch them around with the button in between.
That covers the properties bar. Now the dock on the right side of the editor breaks down into panels for the various functions you might need.
- Use the navigator to zoom in and out and select what part of the diagram is shown.
- The graphic panel is used to style objects and lines, similar to the properties bar, but it also lets you be a little more detailed with opacity, drop shadow direction, gradients and even inserting an image inside an object. And the theme tab lets you create a default style for the document.
- The metrics panel gives the pixel-perfect position and size of your object with the ability to modify the fields, as well rotate and flip the shape.
- The text panel provides more advanced settings for indenting and spacing the highlighted text.
- Use the page settings panel to change the layout of each page as well as how the shapes behave, how they snap, how large they appear on the page, automatically adding more pages, or simply applying a background color to the entire document.
- Master pages make it easy to replicate static content across multiple pages without needing to copy and paste.
- The shape options panel appears differently depending on what type of object is selected, but it makes it easy to add simple changes to wireframes, swimlanes, BPMNs, and other shapes.
- Revision history is available to Pro, Team, and Enterprise accounts and provides a chronological history of the document. Who made the changes, when, and even see what it looked like at that point.
- The last panel is the demo controls panel. This is commonly used with wireframes or mockups and puts the diagram into a presentation mode, hiding all toolbars and reflecting user interaction created with hotspots and layers.
At the bottom of the canvas you will notice two great communication tools: The chat box and the comment bar. The chat box is great for real-time conversations with other collaborators who are also editing the file and the comment bar is perfect for leaving notes that are saved inside the document and can be replied to, resolved, and attached to specific objects.
The menu bar is the last piece of the editor. It is a more structured way to access features of the editor and it also shows the associated shortcut keys. Some of the notable features include:
- Customizing the editor preferences
- Download options
- Copying a block style
- Arranging layers of shapes
- Aligning shapes with each other
- Inserting fields like the page number, page count, and date and time
- And of course, sharing your diagram. Whether its with collaborators, to your social networks, or simply on a webpage, it can all happen from the editor.
That is the tour of the editor. Please refer to our tutorials or forums if you have specific questions you need answered. The next step is to start drawing your diagram. Click the next video to receive more instruction, or start clicking around the editor to test it for yourself.