Diagramming and flowcharting tools are handy for many purposes. You can use them to brainstorm ideas, create mind maps, sketch software designs, sketch out product roadmaps and milestones, or even create team presentations.
If you’d rather not download and install a tool for creating diagrams and flowcharts, there are many online options. Microsoft Visio is one of those options, but if you’re looking for a tool that’s not from Microsoft, here’s a list of other options.
Lucidchart allows you to easily create diagrams and flowcharts without installing any software. It supports many types of diagrams and flowcharts including network diagrams, basic flowcharts, process maps, and wireframes. You can create diagrams from scratch or use a template to get started.
Usability is key in Lucidchart. For example, when you draw lines between shapes, they automatically connect to the edges of the shapes. And when you move shapes, the lines stay connected and follow the shapes around.
Lucidchart offers a free tier with 25MB of storage, a three-document limit, and 60 objects per document. If you choose the free tier, you won’t get mind-mapping, wireframing, or mockups libraries and no revision history. And you’ll only be allowed to view Visio documents you import, not edit them. But, if you only need to make basic charts and diagrams, the free tier is probably good enough. They also offer paid plans if you need more capabilities.
Lucidchart is also available as a Chrome web app so you can create charts directly in the browser.
Draw.io is a completely free online tool for creating diagrams of all types. You don’t need to sign up to use draw.io. Just go to the site and select where you want to save your diagram. You may have to sign in to your Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive account. Or you can choose to save the diagram to your local hard drive. You can even save your diagram to Trello or Github if you’re sharing it with others.
Once you select where to save your diagram, you can choose to create a blank diagram from scratch or to start with a template. Drag and drop shapes, arrows, and other elements onto your diagram.
Draw.io supports importing diagrams from JPEG, PNG, SVG, Gliffy (discussed in #4 below), Lucidchart (discussed in #1 above), and VSDX (Microsoft Visio format). Your diagrams are saved as HTML files, but you can also export them in JPEG, PDF, PNG, SVG, and XML formats. You can export a link to your diagram.
As we said, draw.io comes in several desktop versions in addition to the online version and is integrated with several services. Most versions and integrations are free, except for the integration with Confluence Server.
Cacoo is an easy-to-use online diagram tool that comes with over 100 templates to help you get started. You can create flowcharts, wireframes, Venn diagrams, and many other styles of diagrams. If you’re creating a flowchart, Cacoo offers a large range of shapes to choose from. Simply drag and drop the shapes, arrows, and other diagram elements onto your chart.
If you’re looking for real-time collaboration when creating diagrams, Cacoo has you covered. Multiple people can work on the same chart at one time. There’s an integrated chat feature so you can communicate with your team members as you work. Cacoo also includes memo fields to keep track of who’s involved with the current diagram and project folders and security settings for team members.
Cacoo is a great tool for teams and single users. You get storage for 1000 sheets, unlimited sharing, SVG import and export, and more. But for these features, you must sign up for a paid plan. The plan for a single user is $49 per year and the team plan starts at $180 per year for three users. If you need to use Cacoo on a private server, they offer an Enterprise plan that starts at $600 per year. There are also monthly options for all levels. All plans come with a 14-day free trial.
You can sign up for a free account that allows you to have six sheets, limited sharing, and PNG exports. If all you want is to create some diagrams and don’t care about the collaboration features or other formats, the free account should be enough.
Gliffy is a user-friendly online diagramming tool that allows you to create professional quality diagrams, flowcharts, floor plans, technical drawings and more. Basic templates are available that make it easy to get started. Gliffy also integrates with Jira and Confluence.
You can collaborate with others on diagrams, but this feature isn’t as powerful as other online diagramming tools.
Gliffy is an HTML5 cloud app that also works offline.
You can use Gliffy for free with limited functionality. All the tools are available with a free account, but you can only save your diagrams on their servers and export them in the Gliffy format.
To unlock more features, sign up for a Personal plan for $7.99 per month, billed annually. A Team plan costs $4.99 per month per user, billed annually. There’s also an Enterprise plan, but you need to contact Gliffy to find out the price.
Sketchboard is an endless online whiteboard that allows you to create diagrams and flowcharts using over 400 sketch shapes and to draw freehand. It’s not a particularly pretty interface, but they emphasize ideas, not looks.
Rather than toolbars or sidebars, in Sketchboard you double-click on the background to bring up a palette of shapes to insert. Use the Freehand button at the bottom to draw freely on your diagram.
You can use Sketchboard for free for public projects. When you sign up, you’re automatically on a free plan with three private boards for up to five users. For unlimited private boards and more features, choose a paid plan. The Personal plan is $7 per month and plans for multiple users start at $14 per month.
Creately is an online diagramming tool designed to make it easy to convert your thoughts into visual charts. Drag and drop shapes and draw shapes and the lines connecting them in one go. Creately can automatically select the right kind of arrowheads and connector styles that are right for the shapes you’re using.
Aligning, sizing, and grouping shapes is easy with the context toolbar. Creately also offers intelligent arranging, or sending back and forward, of shapes. If you’re not sure which shape to use, enter text on the diagram and Creately will create a shape from text, when it makes sense.
Real-time collaboration, inline comments and discussion threads, and full revision history of all changes are just some of the other features available in Creately.
You can use Creately for free with limitations. The free plan comes with five public diagrams and one project and you can collaborate with two other people.
For unlimited diagrams and projects, additional collaborators, and more features, sign up for a Personal plan for $49 per year paid yearly or a Team plan starting at $249 per year (five users).
DrawAnywhere is an online diagramming tool that looks and feels like a desktop app. You can create flowcharts, process diagrams, organizational charts, and more and share them with others.
Share your diagrams with others or publish it on your blog, forum, or webpage. You can also export your diagram as a JPG, PNG, GIF, or TIFF image. To save your diagram, you must sign up for a free trial account.
To remove the limitations of the free trial account, sign up for a paid plan starting at $30 per year.
8. Google Drawings
If you have a Google account, you have a completely free option for creating diagrams in Google Drawings.
To access this free tool, log into your Google Drive account and click New on the left. Go to More > Google Drawings. Add shapes, arrows, callouts, and even equation symbols to your blank canvas. Drag the elements around to arrange them and resize and rotate the elements as needed.
To collaborate on a diagram with others, invite them through email and give them permission to view, edit, or comment on the diagram.
Export your diagram as an image file or publish it to the web.
Google Drawings won’t cost you anything if you have enough space in the 15GB you get for free in your Google Drive account. If you need more space, you can purchase a Google Drive storage plan.
Visualize Your Ideas in Diagrams and Flowcharts
Which is your favorite online diagramming tool? Do you have any suggestions for tools not listed here? Share your thoughts and suggestions with us in the comments below!