Create UML Diagrams
February 27, 2020

How to Create UML Diagrams: the Gliffy UML Diagram Tutorial

Diagrams for Software Engineering

Drawing UML Diagrams with Gliffy is easy, regardless of which UML diagram type you want to create. Just spend a few minutes playing with Gliffy’s intuitive interface and you’ll be ready to diagram like a pro.

UML Diagram Tutorial For Gliffy

Step 1: Add UML Shapes

First, you’ll need to 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.” Gliffy has UML shapes for multiple types of UML diagrams, but for this tutorial we’ll stick to the basics.

Add UML Shapes


Step 2: Draw a Package Symbol

Or, rather, drag and drop a package symbol. From the UML 1.0 section of the shape library drag a package symbol onto your canvas. While it’s selected, just type to give it a label. In this case, we used "Financing."

Draw a Package Symbol


Step 3: Edit the UML Shape

Each time you select a shape in Gliffy, you can edit its properties or the properties of any text within the shape. Explore these properties to create visual hierarchy throughout your diagram.

Edit the UML Shape

Step 4: Duplicate Shapes 

Save time with the keystroke Command + D or Ctrl + D to quickly duplicate shapes. Then, you can edit any text within those shapes while retaining the style you selected in Step 3.

Step 5: Arrange Everything Neatly

Once you've copied several shapes, your work might look a little cluttered. To edit multiple shapes at once, just use your mouse to select all three and you’ll see Edit Group Properties instead of Edit Shape Properties.

Arrange Everything Neatly

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

Arrange Everything Neatly 2

Next, we're going to duplicate 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.

Arrange Everything Neatly Snap

We arranged, labeled, and edited our shapes so that they looked like the image below. We've got more UML pro tips on how to make an easy-to-read diagram, too! (Call it extra credit reading.)

Arrange Everything Neatly Folders

Step 6: Add Connectors

Once you’ve got things laid out nicely, it’s time to show their connections. Open Edit Line Properties to select if you want your connectors to have arrowheads, to change the line’s style, or to select the line type.

Add Connectors

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

Add Connectors Folders

Get Started with Your Own UML Diagram

With those basics, you know how to make a UML Diagram. Pat yourself on the back! Now, give it a go with Gliffy Online or Gliffy Diagram for Confluence.

Try Online   Try in Confluence