Backgrounder: Gliffy 2005 to 2011

By Annie Gladue-Latham on Jan 02, 2012 in Latest & Greatest

Chris Kohlhardt and Clint Dickson founded Gliffy in 2005 with the idea that they were creating the world’s first net-native business graphics software.

“We've committed ourselves to platform independent Internet applications with rich user interfaces that make collaboration an easy and obvious part of your day.”

Clint (L) and Chris (R), Gliffy Founders

Why the name Gliffy?

It comes from the word glyph, a symbol or character that imparts information non-verbally. Gliffy is an online diagramming service that helps users communicate with a combination of shapes, text, and lines.

With a tool that makes it easy to create, share, and collaborate on a wide range of diagrams, Gliffy users can communicate more clearly, boost innovation, improve decisions, and work more effectively.

Here’s an overview video 

Create, Share, Collaborate – Overview video

As you can imagine, I lot has happened since the team hung out its shingle in 2005. The following is a rundown of some notable activities and milestones.

Confluence is the world’s most popular Enterprise Wiki made by one of Australia’s fastest growing companies, Atlassian. Wiki’s have swept through the business community as of late as a key tool to allow colleagues to collaborate documents and other knowledge capital. Up until now, it has been impossible to dynamically create rich diagrams within a wiki. Gliffy Inc. has seamlessly integrated our beloved Gliffy Diagram Editor into Confluence, to take collaboration within Wiki’s to the next level.

  • Sep 2007:  Gliffy Unveils new Symbols and Shapes -- Notable items include new shape library “Office Layout” (available under Floorplan tab), new symbols (available under Floorplan tab), and Swimlane shape (available under Flowchart and UML)

  • Jun 2008: Gliffy Releases Plugin for Confluence 1.4 -- Along with the visual improvements, we’ve added many new symbols as well. Gliffy now has over 225 symbols to choose from.  Plus, you can include your own images in Gliffy.  Any JPG image attached to the same page your diagram is attached to will now be available to include in your diagram.

  • Dec 2008:  BPMN Symbol Library Added to Gliffy Online -- This update includes the new BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation) symbol library and account folder management. Gliffy now allows you to create detailed Business Process Modeling Notation diagrams. These diagrams are helpful in getting stakeholders a clear picture of your business processes. This symbol library includes events, activities, artifacts, gateways and swimlanes, as well as the specific connectors. The multi-lane swimlane symbols have adjustable lanes and the pool headers auto-resize with text input. Most of the new BPMN symbols allow their line and fill color to be user-defined.


Adds diagram capabilities to the JIRA bug and issue tracker / project-tracking tool from Atlassian.



  • May 2009:  Gliffy Releases 2.0 Updates for Confluence and JIRA Plugins -- Among the updates are a redesigned, more professional looking user interface; improved application usability, default colors, and revision history; and improved and redesigned network symbols. Gliffy’s intuitive drag-and-drop interface combines the power of traditional desktop software with the lightweight, low learning curve and flexible features of today’s most popular browser-based applications. More Atlassian customers use Gliffy to make information visual and easier to understand than any other diagramming plugin.

  • Apr 2010: Gliffy Unveils Updates to Confluence & JIRA Plugins -- Includes improving the speed, performance, and quality of our drawing tool, which is designed to make it easy to add Flowcharts, Class Diagrams, UI Diagrams, and other types of drawings to JIRA and Confluence. There are over 100 improvements, bug fixes and enhancements in the Gliffy Diagram Tool.



  • Jul 2010:  Gliffy Added to Google Apps Marketplace -- The Google Apps Marketplace, a one stop shop that lists additional web based applications created by third party vendors, who integrate with Google Apps, now includes Gliffy as one of those web based applications that works with Google Apps!

  •  Oct 2010:  Tabs Added to Gliffy Online – Multi-Document Capability -- Gliffy Online with an exciting new feature… Tabs. You can now open, create and view multiple documents at once within the Gliffy editor. This should speed up your productivity by allowing you to compare multiple documents more easily, as well as make copying and pasting elements between diagrams a breeze.

  • Mar 2011:  Gliffy Online Receives Several Updates -- Added a new feature that will give you immediate information when updating an object. A gray box will appear next to an object or group that will show the X and Y positioning when dragging the object, Width or Height when stretching a shape, or the angle in degrees when rotating a shape.

  • Floating Contextual Properties Panel has been optimized so that you spend less time moving your mouse back and forth across the screen. This usability improvement also increases the drawing area by up to 50%, which really comes in handy if you’re using a small screen like a laptop. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between being able to see more of your work on the screen at one time, and increase efficiency, which has been a big driver with our development of this feature. The end result is that you’ll be able to create great looking flow charts, uml diagrams, and all sorts of other rich visuals with Gliffy in much less time than you did before.

  • In Confluence - Integrated Confluence Link Navigator: It’s now easier than ever to link from Gliffy diagrams to any content stored inside Confluence. This was a top feature request from users, which was the main driver for implementing this feature ( ). Now when you click on the ‘link’ icon in Gliffy, the Confluence Link Navigator that you’re already familiar with is presented. This makes it simple to select and link to any content stored in Confluence.

  • In Confluence – Auto-save: Now implemented to help eliminate the frustration of losing work due to computer or browser crashes.

  •  Aug 2011:  Gliffy ships integration with Jive

No longer will you need to toggle between editing a diagram from the wiki view and updating the diagram layout from the edit view, everything happens in-line with the Confluence 4 editor.

Creating a diagram in the Confluence editor

Editing a diagram in the Confluence editor

  • Updated wiki view interaction - updated how the diagram appears in the wiki view. Edit links are hidden until you’re ready to interact with the diagram. Once you hover over a diagram, you’ll now be able to zoom larger or edit straight away.

  • Convenient billing: The billing for Atlassian OnDemand products and Gliffy are conveniently handled in one place and on a single invoice.

Here's Atlassian's video:

Which brings you to 2012.

To learn more about what Gliffy has going on, please check out our pressroom.