Cacoo is free (limited) but very capable online tool that lets you create astonishing block diagrams, flow charts, mind maps, office 2010 like diagrams with lots of templates. Best of all, it is editable online by a group of people simultaneously so process of ideation, discussion, brain storming would be seamless and great with this tool…just look at the following draw area. It’s simple and great. You can print, export to PDF etc.
Features listed on their official site:
- Elements can be dragged and dropped to easily create diagrams.
- Elements can be linked together with connectors.
- Connectors automatically move when elements are repositioned.
- You can use a text box and put text anywhere you like.
- You can upload images from your PC and include them in Diagrams.
- You can take screenshots of your computer from within Cacoo.
- Smart styles can easily be applied to stencils.
- You can have multiple sheets in a diagram and use them as backgrounds or layers.
- When you move the objects on your canvas, they will be snapped at the objects or grids nearby and align automatically.
- Copying, pasting and other functionality of basic drawing software is also built in to Cacoo.
- All actions are stored so there are unlimited levels of undo.
- You can import an image from the other websites by indicating the URL.
- The imported image can be easily trimmed only using your mouse.
- According to your editing status, tips will be shown on the right bottom corner of the canvas.
- Collaborative, chatting etc.
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 features 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;
Civil and much more.
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.