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visio alternatives

I need to draw a big and complicated diagram in word document. I found the last version of visio to be unreliable and unusable - when I copy-paste a block it destroys the other linked content etc. Is there any good alternative to Visio?

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marked as duplicate by random Apr 6 '10 at 3:41

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

what do you mean by "linked content"? why should copying preserve it? –  reinierpost Nov 27 '09 at 17:28

6 Answers 6

For Sequence Diagrams I love www.websequencediagrams.com

It has a relatively simple text-based diagram definition language with, I think, 9 different styles of output.

Here is the code used to generate the following diagram: (which I rendered in two different styles)

Alice->Bob: Authentication Request
note right of Bob: Bob thinks about it.
Bob-->Alice: Authentication Response

Rose style:

Rose style

Modern Blue style:

Modern Blue style

But, you might help us out by suggesting which types of diagrams you're interested in. :)

EDIT: www.osalt.com/visio suggests (some of which are already listed here in other answers):

  • StarUML 5.0
  • ArgoUML 0.24
  • Kivio 1.6.1
  • Dia 0.96
  • OpenOffice Draw 3.0
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Good answer. And I like the ability to style the diagram in the websequencediagrams.com tool however some folks are working with commercially or government sensitive IT systems, so a standalone, offline desktop version of websequencediagrams.com would be preferable for those where the data is not potentially exposed to a 3rd party via the webserver. I wonder if can can work offline, e.g. using Google Gears. –  therobyouknow Dec 28 '09 at 9:07

DIA is free and open source software.

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.

alt text

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Any idea if there's a convenient way to turn on word wrapping for the text within a shape? –  intuited Aug 8 '10 at 23:25
Very annoying editing behavior. It's e.g. not possible to select label text. –  Daniel Beck Aug 14 '12 at 10:14

Visio is incredibly powerful, complicated, and (IMO) well designed. It is not so much a vector graphics editor as it is a specification environment for diagram technique specific diagram editors. It shines when you need that capability.

Dia is nothing like it. It is just a vector graphics editor with a superficial resemblance to Visio. You can indeed create your own shape templates, but you have to encode them by hand in XML. It doesn't offer the 50+ shape properties any Visio shape has to customize its appearance and behavior, let alone the sophisticated inheritance/delegation mechanisms for such properties.

In short, you must define your requirements before we can suggest a suitable replacement. If you need real power in the area of templating, Visio will be hard to beat.

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kivio seems to be more specifically oriented toward UML specification; any experience with it? –  intuited Aug 8 '10 at 23:47
No, I've never used kivio. –  reinierpost Aug 16 '10 at 12:08

For general-purpose diagrams I have found Graphviz to be an excellent choice. However, for special ones like most UML diagrams it may work but it's not an optimal choice. But especially if the graph is complicated the automatic layout algorithms of Graphviz are very good. Plus the file format is easy to read and write.

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The two ones I know are dia and kivio (http://www.thekompany.com/products/kivio/ for windows, in koffice for linux)

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Actually, just found this other question here with lots of detail - superuser.com/questions/29060/visio-alternatives –  user19474 Nov 27 '09 at 16:15

Violet UML Editor

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While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. –  Diogo Aug 9 '12 at 19:49