How to UML

Drawing UML diagrams with Gliffy is easy regardless of which type of diagram you want to create. All you need to do is spend a couple of minutes playing with the intuitive Gliffy interface and you’ll be diagramming like a pro. In this UML diagram creation tutorial, we’ll assemble a package diagram, but these same techniques apply to all diagram types.

UML Diagram Tutorial For Gliffy

1. Add UML Shapes

First, add UML shapes to your Gliffy Shape Library. Click ‘More Shapes’ at the bottom of the Shape Library and expand the Software Design section so you can select ‘UML 1.0’.

UML - Add Shapes


2. Draw a Package Symbol

From the UML 1.0 section of your Shape Library, drag a package symbol onto your canvas. While it’s selected, simply type to give it a label. Try it by typing “Finance.”

UML diagram tutorial


3. Edit the UML Shape (Optional)

Each time you select an object in Gliffy, you have the option of editing its properties (and, if applicable, the properties of the text within it). Open Edit Shape Properties now to change this shape’s color to yellow.

UML - Edit Color

4. Duplicate the Shape

With the shape still selected, hit Command-D twice to duplicate it twice. Then, select and drag the duplicates into a column. Label these new shapes “Reservation” and “Resource” as pictured below.

Use your mouse to select all three and you’ll see Edit Group Properties instead of Edit Shape Properties.

UML - Edit Group

Use these group properties settings to align the three shapes to the left and to distribute them evenly along the vertical axis.
UML - Align

5. Duplicate More Shapes 

Next, duplicate any of these shapes three more times to add three more package symbols to your diagram.

Turn on Snap to Grid and Drawing Guides by clicking those icons in the Icon Bar. These tools help you neatly align these new package symbols with the ones already placed.

UML - Drawing Guides

6. Arrange Your Shapes

Arrange your new shapes, label them, and edit their color — using the techniques you just learned — to match the picture below.

UML - Packages

7. Add Connectors

To finish, just add connectors. Select the Connector icon from the Icon Bar and draw in connectors between your packages as pictured. Open Edit Line Properties to select if you want your connectors to have arrowheads, to change the line’s style, and to select the line’s type.

UML - Line Properties

Connect all your package symbols up and you’re ready to share, publish, export, or invite others to collaborate on your UML diagram.

UML - Final

Put This UML Diagram Tutorial Into Practice

See for yourself how easy it is to create UML diagrams in Gliffy. You can try it online or in Confluence for free.

Try online Try in Confluence