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What applications exist that can help me build diagrams? I'd prefer the application to have the option of using many icons to choose from in order to put my ideas into images.

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As Pär Björklund said in his answer, we would need a more detailed question to give useful answers. Like, what kind of diagrams? What OS? To print, or for the screen, or for the web? –  CarlF Nov 9 '09 at 4:45
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8 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Check out DIA!

Dia is inspired by the commercial Windows program 'Visio', though more geared towards informal diagrams for casual use. It can be used to draw many different kinds of diagrams. It currently has special objects to help draw entity relationship diagrams, UML diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams, and many other 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.

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DIA is free and open source software.

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+1 for a great suggestion. It may not be Visio, but you can't beat the price! –  TechParadox Feb 2 '10 at 22:06
    
+1 for open source –  Darius Mar 23 '11 at 16:41
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You can try using Creately. It's really easy to use, it's free and there's no need to install anything. You can also collaborate with others online on your diagrams.

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You can use the Open Office program called "Draw".

Here is a link to a how: Flow Charts with Draw

I use Visio now, but I have used Draw and png files I find on the web (at sites like iconspedia) to create a cleaner look.

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I use LibreOffice Draw (almost the same as OpenOffice) and I am satisfied. I also looked on yEd Graph Editor which is in Java, free and looks promising.

enter image description here

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Very clean looking, I am impressed! –  AthomSfere Dec 1 '13 at 21:11
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If you do not necessarily need a graphical user interface, Graphviz is also recommendable. It offers more sophisticated features than e.g. Viso or Dia do. But for simple diagrams Dia might be sufficient though.

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Mindjet Mindmanager is a nice application that I've used in the past. Since you don't specify what type of diagrams you're looking for it's hard to give you really specific advice.

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RFFlow is lightweight and versatile. Saves in its own format for editability, but can save as WMF, EMF, GIF etc, and the file sizes are kept small.

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In addition to all answers already given: yEd is nice as well. It works on Windows, Linux/UNIX and OSX or even directly from your browser as a Java application.

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Too bad its written in Java, I prefer speed, stability and security over that, personally. Maybe it can be forked to .NET –  AthomSfere Dec 1 '13 at 21:13
    
no problem with stability - works nice and quickly both on Windows and linux machine. And the SVG export feature is great - sometimes just spend some time and make my flowchart look more attractive using Inkscape :-) –  Juhele Dec 2 '13 at 22:46
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