There is no doubt that Microsoft Visio is a great diagramming software, may be the best for some people. Unfortunately, you have to be a Windows user to use Visio since Microsoft doesn’t open support for other operating systems. Not even macOS.
What if you are a Mac user (or Linux) and need a diagramming software to work on diagrams? Or may be you are a Windows user, but lazy enough to spend money to buy Visio since you are not regularly working on diagram. There are several free diagramming software you can use to work on diagrams.
Apart from desktop-based diagramming software like Dia, web-based tools like Lucidchart are great free alternatives to Visio. Below is the list of free diagramming software you can use to replace Visio.
The first free diagramming software you can use to replace Visio is Dia. Dia is a cross-platform diagramming software better known by Linux users since it is an open source software. Most Linux distributions have added this software to their software repositories. In addition to Linux, Dia is also available for Windows and macOS. Tell me what type of diagram you want to work on, chances are you can get it done with Dia. Dia is actually compatible with Visio, but you need to install additional add-on to make it possible for Dia to open Visio files.
yEd is also a cross-platform diagramming software which you can use for free. You can install this software whether on Linux, Windows or macOS. yEd is a great free diagramming software, with rich of features. From common diagrams like fowchart, UML to family three. Everything can be handled by yEd. Especially for software developers, yEd also provides libraries you can install to enhance the yEd functionality.
MyDraw is not completely free. Instead, it is available as a freemium software so chances are you will be needing to upgrade your free version to get the most out of it. MyDraw is available for Windows and macOS and can be used to create any type of diagrams like UML, flowcharts, organizational charts, mind maps, network diagrams and so on. If you need more diagram shapes and symbols (or templates), MyDraw also offers additional libraries. But again, you will probably be asked to upgrade your MyDraw free version. MyDraw is a nice option if you want to switch away from Visio. It has a good compatibility with Visio so will still be able to work on diagrams you created with Visio on MyDraw.
For a certain reason some people prefer to use a web-based tool to get something done. In the context of diagram, draw.io is a great online tool you can use to get done the diagram-related tasks. Since draw.io is an online tool, you can use it whether on Linux, macOS or Windows. Desktop version of draw.io is also available if you want it. The interface of draw.io is a bit similar to Dia. Draw.io is also compatible with Visio, allowing you to open diagrams file you created with Visio. You can use draw.io to create several types of diagrams like flowchart, UML, software diagram, network diagram and so on. Draw.io offers free-to-use templates to save you time in creating diagrams.
Creately is another online diagramming tool which you can use for free. It’s just, it’s not completely free. Creately uses the freemium business model. Which means, you can use it for free, but with limited features. Creately itself is projected to be a collaboration tool. You can invite your team members to work on the diagrams together. Free version of Creately allows you to invite three team members. The Visio Import feature allows you to import diagram files you created with Visio. If you use the free version of Creately, you are only allowed to create 5 public diagrams. Desktop edition of Creately is also available, but no free version is offered.
Lucidchart is also an online diagramming tool which has a compatibility with Visio. Lucidchart also uses freemium business model so you can use it without spending a dime. It’s just, free version of Lucidchart is designed for personal use. The basic features of free version of Lucidchart might not much different to the paid version, but there are some functionalities you won’t get like Visio import and export. Companies like BMW, Grab, Nike, Spotify to Dropbox are the examples of Lucidchart users.
Other free alternative to Visio you can use to work on diagrams is Cacoo. It’s a web-based diagramming tool so you can use it on any desktop platform. Whether it’s Linux, Windows or macOS. Just like most online tools, Cacoo also uses a freemium business model. Although you have to deal with some restrictions, but Cacoo gives you a chance to work on diagrams without spending a dime. The number of diagram you can create using free version of Cacoo is only 6. But, you are allowed to add up to 15 team members, which is great to work collaboratively on a diagram with your team.