5 free Microsoft Visio Alternatives

For drawing, preparing charts, flowcharts, one program that best suits everyone’s need is Microsoft Visio. The industry standard program lets you display complex diagrams quickly and easily. In addition, it lets you edit your diagrams if it ever requires to be changed. The program, however, is expensive, and not all can afford it.

We have already seen some free Microsoft Office alternatives earlier; now let us, therefore, take a look at some free Visio alternatives that may not be highly performant but still beat the program when it comes to price.

Microsoft Visio alternatives free

DIA Diagram Editor

Available in more than 60 languages, DIA is a program to draw structured diagrams. With this program, one can draw entity relationship diagrams, UML diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams, and many other diagrams.

Microsoft Visio alternatives free

The free program has the in-built ability to load and save diagrams to a custom XML format (gzipped by default, to save space), export diagrams to a number of formats (EPS, SVG, XFIG, WMF, and PNG) and print diagrams. It is also possible to add support for new shapes by writing simple XML files, using a subset of SVG to draw the shape. Apart from functioning on Windows, DIA works equally well with Mac and Linux. Go here.

Open Office Draw

The free software has most of the merits of Microsoft Office interface and includes some very useful applications for making diagrams, presentations, spreadsheets, and databases. It features ‘Connectors’ between shapes, which are available in a range of line styles that facilitate building drawings such as flowchart.

Using its ‘Arrange Objects’ feature one can group, ungroup, regroup, and edit objects while grouped. Another feature rendering lets you create photorealistic images with your texture, lighting effects, transparency, and perspective. Besides, it even can import graphics from all common formats (BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and WMF) and allows creating your art and adding it to the gallery. Visit this page.

Inkscape

Inkscape is an Open Source vector graphics editor with a streamlined interface that makes editing nodes, performing complex path operations, tracing bitmaps much easier. Though it does not provide all the features of the leading vector editors, its latest version offers a large portion of basic vector graphics editing capabilities.

The program supports many advanced SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) features like markers, clones, alpha blending, etc. besides, it can import formats such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and others and export PNG as well as multiple vector-based formats. Click here.

Graphviz

Graphviz represents structural information as diagrams of abstract graphs and networks. The open-source graph visualization software includes several main graph layout programs. It takes descriptions of graphs in the form of simple text language and then makes diagrams in several useful formats. Details here.

Graphviz features:

  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Tabular node layouts
  • Line styles
  • Hyperlinks
  • Custom Shapes

Recently, two more features were added to the program,

  1. Lightweight edge labels (xlabel)
  2. Tapered edges (as a style)

Kivio

Kivio, a part of KOffice open source office suite is a free program for making diagrams and flowcharts. It has a user interface similar to Visio but differs in a way that it allows adding a grid to the drawing plane and gives the option of splitting the pane into two drawing areas.

Other features include,

  • Scriptable stencils using Python
  • Support for Dia stencils
  • A plugin framework for adding more functionality

Thus, we see some programs are more suitable for artistic work while others are better for technical drawings. The choice, however, depends on the preference of the potential user. It is now available at calligra.org.

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The author Hemant Saxena is a post-graduate in bio-technology and has an immense interest in following Windows, Office and other technology developments. Quiet by nature, he is an avid Lacrosse player. Creating a System Restore Point first before installing a new software, and being careful about any third-party offers while installing freeware is recommended.

14 Comments

  1. For network diagrams, you can try http://www.gliffy.com/. Works great and has some great features. 🙂 I’ve also used DIA and it works excellent.

  2. hemant saxena

    your comment too validates usefulness of the utility (DIA).

  3. Luis Josef

    I would only call a couple of these to be true Visio alternatives. IMO, Graphviz and Inkscape wouldn’t count.

    I’ve probably tried a dozen of these now and finally found one that I have been using for months now. To save others the hassle of download after download and registration after registration…try Lucidchart’s Visio editor. It can import Visio files, it can export back to Visio. You can upload Visio stencils and create new diagrams. Essentially it is Visio but online which is incredible.

  4. bear893

    I agree with Luis. Lucidchart has a great tool for working with Visio files and being able to export back to Visio. Make it easy for teams to transition from visio to another service.

  5. TightCoder

    LibreOffice/OpenOffice Draw are pretty powerful once you get to know them, but fall down at the lack of symbol galleries. A reasonable (if smallish) set of symbols for drawing diagrams with physical network equipment can be found here: http://www.vrt.com.au/downloads/vrt-network-equipment

  6. Carter Dunley

    Totally agree with Luis. What I also like about Lucidchart is it also collaborative which super easy in an office setting to complete group projects. It is definitely one of my favorite alternatives to Visio for all mac users and even PC users (if your pocket cash is too small for Visio’s price)

  7. Marcy White

    These are some great alternatives, but you should also try Lucid Press! https://www.lucidpress.com/pages/inkscape-alternative

  8. macydalby

    You should give Lucidchart a try! I used Lucidchart’s draw network diagram free and it was really easy to understand. If you use diagrams often you should check it out!

  9. macydalby

    Lucidchart seems popular here! I also used Lucidchart’s free network diagram tool and it was really easy to understand. If you use diagrams often you should check it out!

  10. WafflingWarbler

    Open/LibreOffice Draw is surprisingly capable once you discover some of the less obvious features (spline/node editing, in-place editing of grouped objects without having to ungroup etc.), it’s Visio import is getting much better, even the symbol libraries are starting to improve. If you’re looking to create network diagrams, this CC-licensed shape library from VRT Systems is excellent:
    http://www.vrt.com.au/downloads/vrt-network-equipment

  11. macydalby

    Like Luis and Carter I think Lucidchart is the best option. I used Lucidchart’s network diagram online free and it was really easy to understand. It also is compatible with most software and the online collaboration is awesome!

  12. John Anderson

    Also try Describio (https://www.describio.com). You can use it to create interactive organizational charts and runnable flowcharts. Its flowcharting feature is great for testing logic before building the actual product.

  13. Roger

    It looks to be free for 5 public diagrams for individual use with limitations.

  14. Yes, you can only draw 5 public diagrams with the free account. The only limitation is PDF and SVG export.

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