I need an alternative to Visio for making diagrams (particularly signal processing block diagrams) that includes some kind of custom stencils + connection points. I just spent 2 hours learning bits and pieces of Dia only to find that it has no rotational capabilities, not even 90 degree rotations. Otherwise it's great.

Any suggestions?

  • For Windows only? – Peter Mortensen Aug 24 '09 at 23:37
  • no... although I have different needs for work (Win32 box) and home (Mac). – Jason S Aug 28 '09 at 12:33
  • Microsoft Visio alternatives. – Svish Aug 31 '09 at 6:54
  • Dia is so close to being useful, but that lack of rotation is a real deal-breaker. It can be worked around for the 90 degree cases with more stencils, but that gets old quickly. – RBerteig Aug 31 '09 at 7:17

11 Answers 11


Here is an annotated list of alternatives to MS Visio. SmartDraw is considered a close match to Visio.

Otherwise it includes:

  • Inspiration
  • TeamFlow
  • iGrafx FlowCharter
  • Kivio
  • Edge Designer
  • FlowBiz
  • PathMaker
  • RFFlow
  • Patton & Patton Flow Charting
  • Graham Process Charting Software
  • allCLEAR
  • OmniGraffle
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  • But SmartDraw is not free or is it? – Robert Koritnik Jun 12 '12 at 8:25
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    SmartDraw 2012 is nearly $200 USD. Not only a close match to Visio but close match in price. – Peon Aug 12 '12 at 0:36
  • Any able to export the diagrams to Latex?. I don't mean able to export it to a picture and then embed it on your document but generate Latex (or Tikz or forest or smartdiagram) code to recreate the diagram? – skan Dec 4 '16 at 12:06

On the Mac, I'm a big fan of OmniGraffle from The Omni Group. It has all the features you're looking for, and the pro version can even import and export visio files.

There's also a website called Graffletopia (which, as a new user, I'm apparently not allowed to link to) that's full of user-contributed stencils and extras you can use.

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I am a fan of OpenOffice Draw.

Anyway, This page discusses a few - http://www.osalt.com/visio

When I did my course at uni, we were encouraged to use Violet for UML modelling as a alternative to Visio, can't remember if it does what you need though!

(I am unable to find it, but sure this has been asked before.)

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And then there's VUE, very powerful tool, best of all its free! you just have to sign up with your email an password to download the installation

The Visual Understanding Environment (VUE) is an Open Source project based at Tufts University. The VUE project is focused on creating flexible tools for managing and integrating digital resources in support of teaching, learning and research. VUE provides a flexible visual environment for structuring, presenting, and sharing digital information.

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You need Java installed for it though

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I just found out about yEd and am very happy with it.

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  • yEd design is flawed! You can't even create more than 1 line connector originating from a joint on a node. Trying to create a free standing line is painful. I absolutely do not recommend yEd. – Peon Aug 12 '12 at 0:34


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I was looking for open-source or just freeware Visio alternatives for my home Windows box for years, unfortunately without avail. Every tool I tried (Dia, OpenOffice, Gliffy) was problematic in many ways, not to mention missing lots of advanced features from Visio.

At last this year I bit the bullet and bought Visio 2007 catching a sale that made it very reasonably priced. Now I'm not looking back - it's an amazing tool, well worth paying for.

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A very brief google search would turn up a number of similar products and projects in open source and freeware. Probably the closest to what you are looking for would be dia

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  • -1: That was the first thing I looked at. And I already said in my question that I tried dia and it didn't meet my needs. – Jason S Sep 28 '11 at 13:15

I have used Balsamiq - It is very easy to use web app and pretty fast. If you don't want to buy the version - there is an online version which can do the job if you want quick mock ups.

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We used to use Omnigraffle at work, until we discovered Concept Draw.

It isn't free nor open-source, but for me it is a must have. And it runs Windows and Mac for the same price..

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I don't know if it has your specific feature requests or not, but Gliffy is a nice online diagram web application that does lots of stuff.

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