Visio Flowchart elements, Symbols, and Shapes
Introducing Flow Charts
In all of programming, there are three basic activities that take place. These programming activities are input, process, and output. One of the many useful tools that programmers use to organize and visualize these activities is a flow chart. A flow chart is basically an organized collection of shapes, lines, arrows, and other symbols drawn in such a manner as to visually describe the various activities of a program.
The Elements of a Flow Chart
When you draw a flowchart, each shape represents a particular type of activity as shown below. This, of course, is not a complete list of flow chart elements, but it gives you a basic idea of the concept.
Terminator - Start:
At the very beginning of the flow chart we start off, of course with the "Start" symbol. This oval shape is actually called a terminator because it is used both at the beginning, and at the end of the flow chart.
The square shape is called the Process symbol. It is used for internal (or non-visual) processes such as declaring variables, making calculations, or performing many other processes that do not require direct interaction with the user.
Now we come to the parallelogram which is used for Input and Output. This could be input from the keyboard or other device, or output to the screen or other device.
Now, we have to make a decision. This diamond shape is used for evaluating choices, validating input, or any other process that requires a true (1) or false (0) result before branching off into another direction.
As we see in the decision shape above, if the result is true (or 1), we branch off to a Sub-Process (Hover over the SubProcess shape in the above image ). This is indicated by the rectangle with two lines on either side. This says that we are going to execute another function somewhere within the program. Of course, if the result is false (or 0), in this example, we branch off to another input/output routine, and some more processing.
Terminator - End:
Finally, we come to the end of our program and indicate this with another oval shaped terminator.
The Right Tools
As you might suspect, this is only a very tiny example of a flow chart. There are many more shapes, and as the program gets bigger and more complex, so does the flow chart. Some programmers prefer doing this task by hand on paper (yes, I'm serious, on paper), and others prefer doing it on the computer. The best program I have found to handle this task very quickly, and with great ease, is the one I use all the time. In fact, it's the one I used to make the flow chart on this page. . Microsoft Visio Standard 2010
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