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5 Free Alternatives to Microsoft Visio

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Microsoft Visio is powerful, full featured, and user friendly. It is a great piece of software and there are plenty of businesses that rely on it. There are some downsides to Microsoft’s diagramming title though. There is no mobile app, no version for Mac, and it costs money that you may need or might want to save. Here are five free Visio alternatives for you to try.

What is Microsoft Visio?

Here is the way Microsoft describes Visio:

“Transform the way you use and visualize data so you can bring your best ideas to life. With dozens of ready-to-use templates and thousands of customizable shapes, Visio makes it easy—and fun—to create powerful visuals.”

With Visio Microsoft tries to make creating diagrams of many kinds easier. It provides dozens of templates and other features to bring your diagrams to life. It also allows real-time collaboration. With Visio you can work from the web or the desktop app, making it easy to do your work anywhere that you have an internet connection.

You can get Visio for your PC here.

There are two plans to choose from:

  • Visio Plan 1 – According to Microsoft this one is best “for users who need to create and share simple diagrams in a favorite browser.” Visio Plan 1 costs $5 per user per month.
  • Visio Plan 2 – Microsoft says Visio Plan 2 is “for users who need to create professional business and IT diagrams that meet industry standards and can be connected to data.” Visio plan 2 costs $15 per user per month.

Visio Plans 1 and 2 both provide templates and an interface that would be familiar to you if you have used modern Microsoft Office. They both allow you to create block diagrams and flowcharts, share your work with others, and provide 2 GB of storage space on OneDrive. The difference between the plans is that you will have to go with Visio Plan 2 if you want the always up to date desktop apps, have professional templates and 250,000 shapes that comply with industry standards (like BMN 2.0, UMN 2.5, and IEEE), and several other features.

If you are interested in the history of Visio check out it’s Wikipedia page.

Free Alternatives to Microsoft Visio

Visio is a feature rich, easy to use, and powerful piece of software. Are you stuck with using Microsoft’s diagraming software? Not at all. There are high quality free options available. I am listing these alternatives to Microsoft Visio in alphabetical order. I will give my recommendation on which one I would choose below. All of the following options are completely free as of this writing.

Diagrams.net

 

 

  • Themes
  • Works with Google Classroom
  • Works with Notion
  • Interactive diagrams and toggled layers
  • Sharing
  • Collaborative editing in Draw.io
  • AWS icons
  • Several ways to connect shapes
  • Export diagrams to HTML
  • Export a diagram to a URL
  • Powerful features
  • Privacy respected

Diagrams.net checks all the boxes. It is open source, easy to use, works on multiple platforms, feature rich, and allows collaboration of all of your projects. It is known to be very stable as well. All of this for free makes it hard to pass on this one. You don’t even have to install anything or sign up for an account.

Find out more here.

GitMind

 

 

  • Themes
  • Save and sync across your devices
  • Free templates that you can edit
  • Share and collaborate
  • Export your work to Microsoft Office

GitMind is extremely easy to use. Nothing makes mind mapping easier. It is feature rich and allows for collaboration so you can work with others.

Find out more here.

Google Drawings

 

 

  • Easy to use
  • Integrates with the other Google office tools
  • Ability to create advanced diagrams
  • Share and collaborate
  • Makes designing simple infographics easy
  • Ability to create your own wireframing kit
  • Annotate screenshots
  • Create hotspots on images

Google Drawings is a simple to use way to go. It’s features will meet the needs of the majority of users. How easily and smoothly it integrates with the rest of the Google Docs tools can help make your work flow so much more conveniently.

Find out more here.

Pencil Project

 

  • Easy to use
  • Built in shape collection
  • Support for connectors
  • Ability to export to different file formats
  • Integrates with OpenClipart
  • Inter-page linking

Pencil Project is easy to use, provides a search function to find the clipart that you need, and should meet the needs of most users.

Find out more here.

yEd Graph Editor

 

 

  • Works on all major platforms
  • Ability to import data from Excel or XML
  • Easy to use
  • Ability to automatically arrange elements
  • Ability to export to various file formats
  • An extensive palette of ready to use elements

yEd makes making diagrams easy and intuitive. It is feature packed and should work on whatever platform on which you want to use it.

Find out more here.

The Free Alternative to Microsoft visio that I Recommend

In choosing which title I recommend I considered ease of installation, user interface, ease of use, features, and portability.

By far the easiest titles to install were GitMind and Google Drawings for one reason, there is no install. They both run on the web. it doesn’t get much easier than that and there is the added benefit of not having to add yet another software program to your Windows installation.

When it comes to layout it’s hard to beat the simplicity of GitMind. You simply choose the template you want to use and then edit it. GitMind isn’t the most feature rich of the titles we are considering but it should work great for users seeking simple diagrams that they want to quickly create.

when it comes to ease of use, again, it’s hard to beat GitMind. It can’t get much easier than picking a template and then entering the information you need on it.

Diagrams.net offers a pretty impressive feature set. So much so that I am confident you should be able to create whatever diagram that you need and export it to a format that will be useful to you. Not to mention the ability to add plugins.

On the portibility front GitMind, Google Drawings, and Pencil are the clear winners. GitMind and Google drawings run on the web so you can use them on any device with a web browser. Pencil has installation files for Windows, Linux, and Mac.

All five options have pros and cons. My recommendation:

GitMind should be a good choice for most users. It has a massive collection of templates to choose from and can be accessed anywhere you have a web browser. For those that need a more advanced feature set Diagrams.net is a good way to go.

All five of the above choices are quality titles that are free, easy to use, and contain a nice feature set. Give them a try and one of them should work for you.

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