Re: Open source alternate to Visio on Win7 (for diagramming)

Subject: Re: Open source alternate to Visio on Win7 (for diagramming)
From: Tony Chung <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca>
To: "Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- ga -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2014 11:40:35 -0800

On Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 10:56 AM, Janoff, Steven <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- ga -dot- com>wrote:

> I'm looking for a good, easy, free diagramming tool on Win7 that will get
> me at least part of the way to the diagramming capabilities of Visio and
> can also import Visio files (that's a bonus).
> These are the ones I've heard of so far:
> * OpenOffice Draw
> * LibreOffice Draw
> * Google Draw
> * LucidChart
> * Dia

They all have their drawbacks and limitations. Even when I worked in a Mac
environment, I preferred Visio in a Windows box to OmniGraffle. It just
does so much more, with no nonsense.

Even though I've gone the gamut of free tools, including all the Draws,
Dia, and Inkscape, I can't get enough of my Visio. I used CorelDraw for 18
years before completing a course in my tech comm program, but I insist the
school should have taught Visio because it's more widely used. Illustrator
is nice, but there's nothing bare bones about it. Viso just gets stuff done.

A coworker swears by Gliffy - I can't stand it. Oh,
and others use Balsamiq mockups. Very crude flowcharts, but they work.

> I mainly want to work with basic shapes and text boxes, hopefully with as
> little hassle as possible, especially the text boxes. (Or floating text if
> that's more appropriate.)
> Thanks for your recommendations on what would be good to use. (I have
> Visio 2010 at work but want to use something at home as well. If necessary
> I'll get the commercial package but if open source can do it, why bother.)
It's too bad MS dropped their Home User Program. When I started in my
current role, MS sold us copies of Office Pro, Visio, and Project at $11
each. Yeah. A steal. I don't use them hardly enough at home, but I have
them. Now the program itself is over, but I still have the licenses.

Once you realize what Visio can do for you, there's nothing you can't do.

Oh, and for the record, at work I don't have Visio, so I draw my system
block diagrams in PowerPoint. According to a software engineer I know,
that's what they teach students in CompSci to use. ;-)

> PS - Do you think mind-mapping software would be a better option for
> diagramming?

It all depends on what your purpose is for the blocks. Mind mapping isn't
technical blocks, but brainstorming. The mind map is rarely the artifact.
It's the process used to ensure all roads are covered before generating the

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Open source alternate to Visio on Win7 (for diagramming): From: Janoff, Steven

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