Microsoft Visio has become the industry standard for flow charts and diagramming software. Almost all large companies utilize the tool because of it how diverse it can be for the end user. But, what if the price tag that comes with a tool as powerful as Visio makes unattainable for a small software company or student? Most start up companies are not going to use Visio often enough justify the $999 licensing fee for a Premium package. They can always utilize the templates that Visio provides on its home page, but this is most likely not going to meet their needs.
In this instance, there are several Visio alternatives on the market.
Gliffy in an online diagramming tool that is great for floor plans, Venn diagrams, and flow charts. If the need is limited to a just a few diagrams, this is a cost effective option as it allows for two diagrams for free at the beginning of the subscription. It also allows for existing Microsoft Visio documents to be imported in and edited in the Internet browser. This product is a few different price points depending on how frequent it needs to be used.
- Free (5 diagrams)
- $3.99 (200 diagrams)
- $7.99 (unlimited)
LucidChart is similar in the fact that it can be used for diagramming needs, but the differentiator with this product is that if can be used to mockup apps. It also allows for more complicated tasks like wire-frames. Finally, it is easier for an end user to become proficient.
This option is recommended for individuals that need a cheaper but equally powerful alternative to Visio. In addition, it has fantastic collaboration features so that team members can use it together to share ideas.
yED is another free software to use for diagramming. It is very end user friendly because it already has ready to use templates that can be used as a starting point. In addition, it allows for the ability to import in a Visio document for editing. Finally, it has advanced features for Semantic networks.
It is recommended that this be used for those that do not need the power that Visio offers because their usage would be more in line with simple diagramming. The best part is that it is free!
Creately is different from the previously mentioned options because is it not an on-line product. It does integrate with Google Drive and can easily integrate links from Emails if needed. This is the most common option for large corporations that have opted to not utilize Visio for their needs. It can be used offline is needed, and when Internet connection is established again, the software will sync so that work can be accessed from multiple locations. The other differentiators for Creately is that it offers tools for Gantt Charts, DB diagrams, and hundreds of other alternatives.
This product is a few different price points depending on how frequent it needs to be used.
- Free (5 diagrams)
- $5.00 (Unlimited diagrams, 5 collaborators)
- $25 / $25 / $75 (5/10/25 users respectively)
Draw.io’s differentiator is that it allows for an unlimited number of diagrams and markups! The limit is actually based on the amount of space provided on the cloud storage allotted. It also gives the end user total control on any revisions that need to be made on previously saved documents. In addition, it has the best options for advanced shapes. Hands down, this is the best free tool on the market and can be used across all different web browsers.
OmniGraffle is geared towards Mac users and their differentiator is how beautiful the graphics are that are created. There are many options for templates and and shapes which allows a person to show their creative mindset. No matter what workflow is being developed (from a family tree to website wireframes) it will be visually appealing with this product. It does have higher price taker though at $99.99 for the standard package.
Google Drawings has real time integration with Google Drive, which as allowed for better teamwork options. Anything that has been created can also be turned into a final export like PDF. It is free and contains the basic features of a diagramming tool. It was originally based on Google Drawing so it animation is being done through this platform; this might be a better option. In addition, it is completely free.
This product was originally developed as an open-source tool that has been owned by Sun Microsystem, Oracle, and Apache at various points. It has the obvious features like being able to export and drag / drop ability. It is recommended for those that enjoy the free source concept and the multiple diagramming options. For an end user that can appreciate the gems that can be found in free source option, they may enjoy this option as the best alternative.
This is a powerful solution that comes with a $199 price tag. It has the flexibility to be able to do complex designs and or engineering workflow or simple flowcharts depending on the need. It has top-notch ability to integrate with many major types of software. In addition, it also contains project management tool and dashboard functionality. Some of the features and functionality in this product actually arguably make it a better alternative than Visio in that particular space.
Calligra Flow (formerly Kivio)
Calligra is the final diagramming tool example. It has an interface that allows integration into Microsoft Visio. The differentiator is that it is looks and acts similar to Visio. It also is diverse and can be used for flowcharts or complex diagrams. It is also free and offers many plug-ins that can be purchases to make it more powerful if needed.