A picture is worth a thousand words

May it be a technical document or a project plan when it is visually presented it has its own value. Microsoft Visio is the most commonly used and widely known tool for creating complex diagrams with ease.

Big organizations can afford Visio, what about home users like you and me? I have some cool online diagram drawing tools for you that can do the trick :-) for free.

Some of these below online diagram drawing tools can be used as an alternative for Visio and are highly recommended for people like you and me to create drawings in lightning speed.

Draw.io

Draw.io is the fully functional online diagram drawing tool which allows you to create diagrams using any browser.

Draw.io is based on mxGraph JavaScript Library which is widely used by top companies around the globe.

There are around 18 Categories of shapes available for you to create your diagrams. By default Only 9 categories will be displayed to you, so if you want to load all of them you can click on More Shapes option(you can find it under File Menu of the online editor) to load them all.

Draw io Online Diagram Drawing

So what does Draw.io offers?

I have just listed some of the categories that I use frequently, actually there is lot more than what I have covered here so feel to explore the tool

  • You can create UML Diagrams, Entity Relation Diagrams, Lean Mapping based diagrams, etc using this online diagram drawing tool.
  • There are three categories dedicated to BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation) so you can model your business process too using this Online Drawing Tool.
  • There are also Categories like Mockup Buttons, Mockup Forms, Mockup Navigation available which can be used to create Mockup screens or UI for the applications/software that you develop.
  • There are 6 cool Clipart categories which can used for lot of different purposes, you can also find an image from Google and use it in your diagram (check image rights before you them).
  • You can just export your diagram and save it in PNG, GIF, JPG, PDF, SVG or XML format.
  • The best of all, it’s completely free :-)

Gliffy

Gliffy is an html5 based online diagram drawing tool that can help you to create flowcharts, UML Diagrams, ER diagrams, UI form components, etc.

You need to sign up with Gliffy using your Gmail account in order to save the diagrams that you create. In the free plan you can only create 5 diagrams and use maximum of 2 MB storage space.

Gliffy Chart displaying Google Spreadsheet

So what does Gliffy offers?

  • When you try to create a New Diagram there are some default Gliffy Templates provided for you. Make sure you visit these templates once, they are just awesome.
  • The Gliffy Library has some cool collections of shapes and well categorized. You can even create a Floor Plan for your office or home :-)
  • You can also import your own images into the canvas and use them.
  • The Chart (beta) feature of Gliffy can use your Google Spreadsheet to create charts and you can insert the generated charts into your diagram.
  • Revision history is maintained for each diagram that you create. So if you just want to use an earlier version of your diagram, you can use the Revision History option under File Menu to revert to an earlier version.
  • You can use the Collaborate option under the Share Menu to send your diagram for your team members (note that they must be a registered user too).
  • By default your diagram will be private. You can change it to public mode and just share the link to social network websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. This way anyone can see your diagram without having to register with Gliffy.
  • You can export your images to SVG, Gliffy, JPG or PNG format

Creately

You can use Google, Facebook, Twitter account, or simply use an email id to sign up with Creately.

Using the Free plan you can only create 1 Project, 5 diagrams and can have maximum of 3 collaborators.

Features like Visio Import, User Management, Multiple Admins, SVG Export are only available in Personal and Team Paid Plans.

Creately Tag Cloud

So what does Creately offers?

  • You can create a vast variety of diagrams like Family Trees, Site Maps, UI Mockups, Story Boards, Value Stream Mapping, Network Diagrams, Infographics etc.
  • Based on what you select to draw, this online diagram drawing tool provides you templates that you can use as a base to build your diagram. The diagram that you create is shared publicly to the community if you are in free plan.
  • The Business Shapes, Infographics, Maps, Web 2.0 Widgets, People Shapes and Silhouettes are worth checking out and can help you to create outstanding diagrams.
  • You can import files that are of the type SVG, PNG, GIF, JPEG, VDX, VSX, VTX and CMDL only.
  • You can save the diagram that you have created as CMDL (Creately Diagram Markup Language) an XML based format, SVG, PDF, PNG or JPEG.

Lucid Chart

Lucid Chart offers all its premium features for 14 days after that you will be pushed back to your free account.

Lucid Chart is built using HTML5 and hence works like a charm on most of the browsers.

So what else does this online diagram drawing tool offers?

  • The Lucid Master Page concept is quite remarkable. Ever heard of Slide Masters in PowerPoint? Nope? Create a page, add header and footer contents that you want to reuse across many pages. Now use the Convert to Master option from the Page menu to convert your page as a Master Page. Now create a new page and apply the Master Page to it. In the below screenshot the Nexus 10 Screen is the master page and the two images that are inside the screen are actually created as a separate page. Got it?
  • Hotspots in Lucid Chart can help you to create actions which makes your diagram interactive in demo mode.
  • The Lucid Chart Libraries has rich objects that you can use to create exemplary diagrams.
  • The Group Chat feature helps you to interact seamlessly with your team.
  • Lucid Chart diagrams can be downloaded in PDF, PNG, JPEG, Visio formats.

Lucid Chart Android Mockup
Psstt! don’t forget to check the Lucid Press website. You can use the same login details that you used for Lucid Chart.

Asciiflow

If you are looking out a pretty simple way to create some diagrams then Asciiflow is for you. This diagram drawing tool is developed using GWT (Google Web Template) and runs on Google App Engine.

Though this may not be quite powerful like the rest of the above, it’s quite useful when you want to send diagrams in plain HTML. Below is a sample from the Asciiflow Gallery, unleash your imagination to create much more :-)

ASCII Flow Online Drawing

So what tool do you use to create diagrams? Do you know a better online diagram drawing tool? Share it with me