Creating Flowtocol Files
The FlowWriter app provides a simple way to document your procedure. Instructions (“the questions”) and outcomes (“the answers”) are entered in the left pane of the tool.
When you then click Save, the flowchart is automatically updated. The flowchart serves as a visual navigation tool, allowing you to select steps and make modifications.
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No More Drawing Flowcharts
Have you ever tried to document a complex procedure via a flowchart? It requires learning a new software tool and manually dropping shapes onto the chart. Halfway through, you discover that you missed a critical step or forgot a possible branch. Now you have to manually drag all the shapes around to make room for your omission. The frustration then sets in.
But FlowWriter was designed to make editing easy. It draws the flowchart for you. If you want to insert a new step or add a new branch, no problem. Just type in the text and let FlowWriter redraw the flowchart.
Multiple Options to Get User Answers
Many flowcharts contain short, cryptic labels on their branches such as “Yes” and “Code 773”. Flowtocol has no practical restriction on outcome text length. This makes your “question and answer” dialogue easy to follow.
- Outcomes can contain up to 10 defined text phrases. The procedure can branch from these outcomes.
- You can instead require the user to enter a number. The procedure can then branch on defined number ranges, such as “>= 10 and < 25”.
- Steps can also request the user to select an item from a lengthy list, such as a state or country. The procedure always moves to the next step regardless of the selection. This is handy if you want to capture information about the user like the state they live in.
- Users can additionally enter free text comments at any steps. You can use this to request additional textual information such as a customer ID.
Link In Other Useful Web Information
There is probably a lot of great information already available on the web that can support your Flowtocol procedures. FlowWriter allows each step to have an associated HelpLink that integrates this information into the procedure.
- Company product pages
- PDF instruction manuals, linked directly to the pertinent page
- Intranet information sources like WikiPedia
- YouTube videos
HelpLinks can also be used as a simple workflow utility. You can create a HelpLink that automatically fires up the user’s email program. You can set the recipient email address, subject line, and message body.
Available Web Page Formats
If your goal is to turn your Flowtocol procedures into web pages, then FlowWriter offers a number of great output formats to choose from.
Desktop Browser - Floating HelpLink
This option is ideally suited for desktop and tablet browsers. The left pane contains the Flowtocol procedure. The right pane logs the choices that the user has made, allowing them the ability to “back up” to a previous step or start over. The logbook can also be printed or emailed. If a HelpLink is configured for the current step, a flyover window will appear over the logbook.
Desktop Browser - Fixed HelpLink
This is another option targeted to desktop and tablet browsers, similar in function to the Floating HelpLink format above. The major difference is that the HelpLink window is fixed. If your Flowtocol contains a lot of HelpLink information, this format may be the best choice.
If you expect most of your users to be viewing your Flowtocol on a smartphone browser, this format provides a compact mode of operation.
The questions and answers appear at the top of the window. The user selections are shown below that. If a HelpLink is configured for that step, a flyover window appears at the bottom.
Multiple Users & Multiple Sessions
But if your Flowtocols need to be completed by multiple people and/or in multiple sessions, you can deploy them with Google G Suite. All the user responses are logged into a Google spreadsheet which allows you to analyze the responses.