Do you want to convert complex processes of your business in a pictorial form? Or do you want to turn your ideas in a flowchart to make it easy to understand? If your answer is yes, then you should consider choosing a flowchart software for your organization.
The purpose of this software is to make sharing of information about processes or systems easy to understand by quickly creating flow graphs. They help you to gain insights into the sequence of steps to be followed to accomplish a task.
What is Flowchart Software?
A flowchart software is that application that will help provide advanced functionalities in creating graphs and charts needed for your business operations, plans, and projects in the form of a flowchart.
With arrows, boxes, and visually appealing design of a process, you can create an optical model of complex documents that were otherwise hard to understand.
How to Select the Right Flowchart Software?
A useful flowchart software will help you to generate a flowchart that is simple and effective, which at the same time removes any ambiguity. You should consider the following factors while choosing a free flowchart software –
1. Reduce Time Taken
An ideal flowchart software will substantially reduce the time taken to create flowcharts. It will allow you to assign specific keywords that generate specified symbols making the process easy.
Good software will allow you to customize the list of your favorite symbols and create a functional-looking diagram.
3. Automates Most Steps
Software is useful only when it automates various steps; for example, the creation of a specific diagram by entering predefined symbols would make things convenient for you.
4. Ease of Editing
You should have an option to edit the flowchart at each step of your process flow without remaking the entire diagram easily like you do on photo editing tools.
List of Top Free and Open-Source Flowchart Software
1. Dia Diagram Editor
Dia is an open-source flowchart software to create diagrams for GNU/Linux, MacOS X, Unix, and Windows. The software can be used to draw many types of programs, including entity relationship programs, flowcharts, network diagrams, etc. many features make it a perfect software to fulfill your needs.
- Optional OGDF based automatic layout plug-in feature
- Groups can be scaled and rooted
- Predefined symbols and objects to quickly create diagrams
- Excellent cross-compatibility between various operating systems such as Windows, Linux, macOS X.
- Very easy to use and layout is quite basic
- The final work when exported may not have the same quality as the initial sketch
- Very simplistic layout and lacks bright colors
Perhaps the biggest thing that separates Inkscape from the others is the fact that it is a vector graphics software, much like Adobe Illustrator. It makes use of SVG as its native format. Moreover, it has an extension ecosystem and has a passionately fervent user base, especially considering the fact that it is free software.
- It has cross-platform usage
- Makes use of vector graphics
- Comes packed with tools such as Bitmap tracking, drawing, calligraphy, and drawing tools
- Abundant and easy to use Path Tools
- Decent placement design
- The interface needs some work
- Mac version is a bit tricky to use and comes with no guide for beginners
- Not very easy to learn and use
Every user’s favorite part about Lucidchart is how easily it lets you start working on your diagram. Around 500 free templates and an extensive shapes library can be accessed to drag and drop elements to the screen as you start working. Or you can just go for a pre-existing automated layout diagram instead. Lucidchart excels in the areas of features and functionality when compared to other open-source flowchart software.
- You can log in and edit your chart before sharing it with your team
- Lets you import data from Zapier, Excel, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and Salesforce. There are a host of other integration options available, too, including, but not limited to, Google suite, Microsoft, Atlassian, and Github.
- Offers intuitive cloud-based solutions to the users
- Monthly updates keep users up to date with new functions and features
- Integration with Microsoft apps does not go as smoothly as you would expect it to go and consumes time and energy
- Software faces a few hiccups when handling too many graphical elements
Looking for Flowchart Software? Check out SoftwareSuggest’s list of the Best Flowchart Software.
4. Studio Free – Bpm’online
Studio Free is software by Creatio, which was formerly Bpm’online. It was designed to give users a streamlined designing process for creation. It is good for collaborative work, and it simplifies the documentation process. As far as free flowchart software goes, Studio Free is a good option for teams of more than 5 and beginners.
- Good for collaborative projects
- Simplistic visual tools, with a helpful process library for storage and management
- Easy to use
- Streamlined file sharing and collaboration process
- Simulation models and relational display
- No cross-platform functionality
Creately is probably one of the most robust flowchart software out there. It combines the intuition of drawing tools with hundreds and thousands of freely available shapes and templates to give you the option to create the best business flowcharts out there. Their UI is clean and pleasing to the eye, with the design centered around ease of use.
- Thousands of freely available templates
- Works online and offline
- Option to collaborate with up to three users if you are using the free version
- User-friendly UI and aesthetically pleasing design
- Configuration options for the UI are fluid and seamlessly implemented
- The thousands of free shapes let you create the finest business flowcharts by any open-source flowchart software out there
- The free version only lets you collaborate with up to 3 people, so you need to pay if you wish to work with a larger team
- The organization system lacks flexibility. After the initial setup, moving diagrams between various folders is almost nigh on impossible
6. Calligra Flow
Calligra Flow is one of the most simplistic flowchart software out there. It is tightly integrated with other Calligra Flow apps, which makes for fluent integration and opens up a multitude of features to be used.
- It gives access to wireframes
- Offers up many effects and complex path operations such as path flattening, boolean set operations, whirl/pinch effects, etc
- The UI is customizable, with freely placeable dockers and toolbars as well
- Comprehensive Path Editing Tool, with capabilities offered for on-canvas editing
- Layer Docker helps in easily handling complex documents and files
- Does not allow collaboration
- Can’t import or export graphic elements
This free flowchart software makes use of purely HTML5 and gives you access to a lifetime of storage. Relatively new in the market, this software still has a long way to go in gaining traction, but with regular updates and an intuitive UI, it is already competing with the other heavy hitters in its domain.
- Only makes use of HTML 5
- Diagrams can be shared with “permalinks,” meaning you can share the links with someone and they can see the diagram
- Lets you collaborate and share with ease
- Allows to export JPEG, PNG, and GIF files via permalinks
- Doesn’t let you use bookmarks
- Doesn’t allow for track changes
With over 4000 free templates, close to 35000 symbols, beyond 70 diagram options with quick-start options, SmartDraw lets you create charts that represent engineering and architectural visuals to scale if needed. The software itself is robust and combines ease of use of drawing tools with access to various templates.
- Available in desktop and cloud edition
- Integrates easily with Google, Microsoft, Jira, WordPress, etc
- You can collaborate online or work from the comfort of being behind the protection of a firewall
- Any drawing can be inserted into Excel, Word, Powerpoint and even Google Docs and Sheets
- Has some progress saving issues and can lead to work being lost
- The software tends to crash a lot, especially when working with too many visual elements
This online diagramming software is very versatile and easy to use. Use this software to effortlessly create AWS architecture diagrams, UML diagrams, floor plans, flowcharts, Venn diagrams, entity-relationship diagrams, SWOT analysis, and many more.
This will help you to improve team communication and collaboration by quickly explaining all the complex organizational processes in visual form.
- Drag and drop option to draw flowcharts with ease
- Wide variety of symbols available, and you can add your own stencils from an SVG-based artwork.
- Effortless collaboration for group projects
- Ease in integration with an existing system such as Chrome, Google Drive, Google Docs Addin, MS word Addin, Confluence
- Extensive library for various kinds of shapes
- The free version will make your diagram public after 15 days
yED is one of the most efficient open-source flowchart software that can be used to draw diagrams manually and even import data from external sources. The automatic layout algorithm of the software will help you to arrange the most complex piece of data.
The intuitive interface allows you to import your own data from an excel spreadsheet and arrange it in diagrammatic form.
- Import data from external sources such as excel spreadsheets
- Automatically arrange data elements
- Export bitmap and vector graphics as PNG, JPG, PDF, etc.
- Files can be saved in native format or exported in various other formats
- Can be customized and easy to use
- Limited palette of icons available
- Requires a bit of learning curve to get used to this software
Draw.io is a free flowchart software with no premium pay functionality. There is no watermark functionality so that you can own the content that you create. Also, you can use this software for creating commercial flowcharts. The software includes a shape library with all types of components that you need to build your BPMN diagrams.
- Use drag and drop interface and automatic layout function to create flowcharts easily
- Mind map feature to remember the information
- Easily integrates with other systems
- Seamlessly import and export image
- Various methods for saving, displaying and sharing content
- There is a limited section for templates that makes certain diagrams repetitive
Flowgorithm is a free flowchart software that helps you to create easy flowcharts. The software supports multiple languages, and the programs are written using a text editor. The software allows users to use shapes to represent different actions that are required to be carried.
- Supports multiple languages
- Graphical variable watch window
- Interactive and easy code generation
- Easy to understand interface
- Loops, arrays, and flexible expressions
- Using code language requires learning curve in the beginning
Wrapping it up
Flowcharts help in organizing vital information that turns ideas into actions. These open-source and free flowchart softwares will help you to create a variety of diagrams ranging from floor plans to network diagrams to UML diagrams. This will, in turn, increase employees’ efficiency as they will understand the complete information with ease.
Which flowchart software do you use for your business operations? Do you use any of the software mentioned above? Let us know your experience in the comment section below.
Originally published June 1, 2020 , Updated : July 11, 2020