Dia Review – Free And Open Source Diagramming Tool

Often, diagramming is necessary to document a project, or for a business proposal etc. Diagrams in the documentation plays a vital role in communicating the details to the engineering team. E.g. Flowcharts always help to understand the problem better. There are popular commercial diagramming tools such as Microsoft Visio, which is one of the industry leader. Visio has lots of featureimages but expensive. If you are looking for a free Flowchart, Network or a generic diagramming tool, the Dia which is Free and Open Source software is worth taking a look. It is cross-platform, it can run on Windows, Linux etc. It supports various kinds of diagrams; 

  • Flowchart
  • Network Diagrams
  • Circuit Diagrams
  • Telephone systems
  • UML
  • Civil and much more.

Recommended Reading:

A sample flowchart created using Dia


Simple and Easy User Interface

Dia has a decent GUI (user interface) and pretty intuitive. It has lots of in-built graphic images for creating various diagrams. It is very easy to design flowcharts and other diagrams. Arrows and lines can automatically attach to other diagrams and managing a large diagram is quite easy. Diagrams can be exported to various formats such as PNG, JPG, WMF etc.

Object Sheet Editor


An UML Diagram


How to add a custom shape to Dia?

If you need to have more graphic images, Refer to this tutorial.

Quality of Diagrams

Well, quality of the graphic images/icons are good but compared to other tools, they are a little archaic. Icons are very basic and richness of the graphic quality could be improved. But, overall, Dia is a great tool and it is pretty reliable too. It can work as an alternative to Microsoft Visio.

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  1. ForzaRP says:

    Really great article! Visio is cool, but I find Creately useful too. Their flowchart templates are quite great – http://creately.com/diagtype/flowcharts

  2. Bob says:

    I like dia, but I’ve yet to be able to create template pages that always comes up defaulting to one visual (and printed) page with a heading and date. In Visio I created wide and portrait templates.

    It’s probably a matter that I rush to my work effort and don’t spend enough time to master the parms and options of dia. I’ll have to add that to my New Year resolutions.

  3. macydalby says:

    You should give Lucidchart a try! I used Lucidchart’s free network diagram tool and it was really easy to understand. If you use diagrams often you should check it out!

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