Microsoft Visio is one of the best diagramming and flowchart tools. But it doesn’t come cheap, and there are free alternatives that can be better.
Microsoft Visio is an industry-standard software for visually representing information and data. You can use it to create detailed flowcharts, organizational charts, floor plans, and other types of visual representations.
While Visio is a great tool, it has some glaring shortcomings, like a steep learning curve, limited accessibility, and versioning issues. It also costs a lot for just personal use.
There are many free options to replace Visio, but not all diagramming software are created equal. This article looks at the best free Visio alternatives you can use to create professional-looking diagrams.
Platforms: Web-based
Price: Free
diagrams.net (formerly draw.io) is a free and open-source online drawing software. The browser-based program has a super-simple, intuitive interface. You won’t waste time getting started to create your diagrams.
The tool integrates well into Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and other cloud-based services. You can connect it with your Google account for real-time collaboration.
You can also use this software both online and offline. The diagramming tool is compatible with Chrome and Firefox. You can as well download a desktop app that runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
The best thing is that you don’t need to register or log in to use diagrams.net. Simply open the site, choose a template and start creating your designs. You can start with a blank diagram if you wish.
diagrams.net lets you create basic shapes and sizes; it has an option to search for shapes. You can use it to create organization charts, flowcharts, Venn, and UML diagrams. Plus, there’s an option to import Lucidchart, Gliffy, VSDX, and more file types.
Once you’ve created your diagram, you can save it to cloud services, like OneDrive, Google Drive, or even your hard drive. Also, you can export your projects in PNG, SVG, XML, PDF, and more.
Platforms: Web-based
Price: Freemium
Lucidchart is another web-based alternative to Visio. The diagramming tool is used by customers like Google, Amazon, Cisco, and Intel. The online tool comes with a huge library of templates and shapes. From Android mockups to floorplans, it has a wide range of pre-made templates.
Lucidchart also supports drag-and-drop, making it a great option for creating designs quickly. You can also import files from Visio, Excel, and Zapier. From creating data flow diagrams to complex technical diagrams, Lucidchart can do it all. You can add different shapes, containers, and smart connectors to create attractive designs.
The tool also lets you work on the same diagram with a team. Lucidchart integrates seamlessly with G Suite, allowing you to manage your Lucidchart team through Google Workspace. Just sign up for a free version to get started.
However, the free version limits you to using three active documents at once, which should be sufficient for personal use. Also, the number of items displayed on a single diagram is limited. Upgrading to a premium plan solves these limitations.
Platform: Web-based
Price: Free
Whether you need a simple diagram or a complex one, you can create it with yEd. The software’s interface makes it easy to customize diagrams. The tool provides a wide variety of diagram elements, such as flowchart symbols, shape nodes, and edge types. This helps ease the process of building diagrams like flowcharts and mind maps.
The diagram editor also features an automatic layout that helps arrange elements of diagrams. For example, if your flowchart has lots of data, you can control the branch directions automatically from the settings panel.
You can import external data, like Visio files and Excel spreadsheets, to create custom diagrams. Once you’re done, you can save your content in various formats, including JPEG, SVG, GIF, PDF, SWF, and HTML.
Platforms: Windows, macOS, and Linux
Price: Free
LibreOffice Draw is one of the most popular alternatives to Microsoft Visio. The open-source graphics editor is part of the LibreOffice suite that includes a word processor, a spreadsheet tool, and a few other tools.
Draw comes with an autocorrect, a spellchecker, and a thesaurus. It also includes an in-built gallery with clip arts that you can drag to the canvas for use.
The easy-to-learn tool lets you create anything from a quick sketch to technical drawings. Use it to design and create diagrams like flowcharts, organization charts, network designs, and posters. You can even edit a PDF file in Linux.
Related: The 5 Best Linux PDF Editors You Should Try
The software has a grouping feature that lets you cluster different objects together. The option also allows you to perform several actions on the group, like moving it or connecting it with other groups. You can export completed diagrams in different formats including, JPEG, PNG, SVG, and PDF.
Platforms: Web-based
Price: Free
Google Drawings is part of the Google Drive suite (that includes Docs, Sheets, and Slides) and is one of the best free online flowchart makers. The diagramming tool is available as both a web app and an offline Chrome app in the Web Store.
The software includes a wide range of lines, shapes, and callouts. You can use it to create flowcharts, concept maps, wireframes, and more. Google Drawings has a simple layout that helps you get started quickly. You can start creating on a blank canvas. Then, add several different elements, like text, shapes, and arrows, to the canvas. You can drag and drop elements, as well as resize, move, and rotate objects.
Google Drawings includes a wide collection of attractive templates to start your diagram off on the right foot. The software also makes it easy to collaborate with others in real-time.
You can connect Google Sheets to Drawings to create diagrams with your data. Once you’ve finished, you can save your diagram in Google Drive or elsewhere as a JPG, PNG, PDF, or SVG file. The tool also lets you share your projects publicly or with a select group of individuals.
Platform: Web-based
Price: Freemium
Creately is an award-winning diagramming tool. It’s also one of the easiest to use tools, with some of the fastest speeds in the industry. Thanks (partly) to the many drawing shortcuts it spots.
The software has an intuitive interface with a collection of templates, shapes, lines, and color palettes. You can use the software to create flowcharts, organization charts, mind maps, and complex UML diagrams.
Creately features collaboration tools, making it easy to work with your team members on a design at once. The tool has apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux and works seamlessly with G Suite, Confluence, and Jira.
The free plan allows you to add up to three collaborators and lets you use up to 60 different elements in each diagram or workspace. With the free account, you also cannot import Visio files. The good thing is, Creately starter plan is one of the cheapest out there.
Microsoft Visio is a powerful tool that helps people represent information through drawings. You can use it to create flowcharts, organizational charts, floor plans, and more diagrams. But Visio might not always be the best choice for you, given its steep pricing and cosmetic changes.
Luckily, there are many diagramming tools that provide similar functionality to Visio. In this article, we explore the best free Visio alternatives that get the job done. The list, however, doesn’t include all helpful tools, like mind map software, that help present information in a clear and helpful manner.
Mind map software can help visualize information and connect thoughts and ideas. Here are the best free mind map tools and software.
Denis is a tech writer at MakeUseOf. He especially enjoys writing about Android and has an obvious passion for Windows. His mission is to make your mobile devices and software easier to use. Denis is a former loan officer who loves dancing!
Join our newsletter for tech tips, reviews, free ebooks, and exclusive deals!

source