Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Microsoft

Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Microsoft Visio

Microsoft’s stance for decades was that community creation and sharing of communal code (later to be known as free and open source software) represented a direct attack on their business. Their battle with Linux stretches back many years. Back in 2001, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer famously tarnished Linux “a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches”. Microsoft also initiated its “Get the Facts” marketing campaign from mid-2003, which specifically criticized Linux server usage, total cost of ownership, security, indemnification and reliability. The campaign was widely criticized for spreading misinformation.

However, in recent years, there has been a partial shift by Microsoft to embrace the open source software paradigm. For example, some of their code is open sourced. Examples include Visual Studio Code, .NET Framework, Atom, and PowerShell. They have also made investments in Linux development, server technology and organizations including the Linux Foundation and Open Source Initiative. They have made acquisitions such as Xamarin to help mobile app development, and GitHub a hugely popular code repository for open source developers. And they have partnered with Canonical, the developers of the popular Ubuntu distro. But many developers remain hugely sceptical about Microsoft and their apparent shift to embrace open source.

This series looks at the best free and open source alternatives to products and services offered by Microsoft.

Microsoft VisioMicrosoft Visio is a diagramming and vector graphics application and is part of the Microsoft Office family.

Database modeling in Visio revolves around a Database Model Diagram (DMD)

Here’s our favorite free and open source alternatives to Visio.


1. Dia

Dia is designed to be much like the proprietary ‘Visio’. It can be used to draw many different kinds of diagrams. It offers special objects to help draw entity relationship diagrams, UML diagrams of various types, flowcharts, network diagrams, and simple circuits. It’s also possible to add support for new shapes by writing simple XML files, using a subset of SVG to draw the shape.

Dia
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2. diagrams.net

Diagrams.net (previously known as draw.io) is an online and desktop diagram software. It’s used to draw flowcharts, network diagrams, block diagrams, electrical circuit diagrams to create UML, as an Er diagram tool, for design. It supports saving files to cloud services.

There’s a desktop version for Linux and other operating systems.

diagrams.net
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3. LibreOffice – Draw

LibreOffice is an open source software office suite developed by The Document Foundation that is compatible with other major office suites and available on a variety of platforms. It is a feature-packed and mature desktop productivity package.

One of the constituent application of the LibreOffice suite is LibreOffice Draw. This is a vector graphics editor and diagramming tool. It can also carry out operations on raster graphics (pixels) such as photographs. With Draw, users can create a wide variety of graphical images.

LibreOffice Draw
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4. PlantUML

PlantUML is open source software used to draw UML diagrams, using a simple and human readable text description.

It uses Graphviz software to lay out its diagrams.

PlantUML


All articles in this series:

Alternatives to Microsoft's Products and Services
Microsoft BingBing offers search services, including web, video, image and map search products. It's developed using ASP.NET.
Microsoft DynamicsDynamics 365 is a product line of enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management intelligent business applications.
Microsoft GitHubGitHub is a distributed version control and source code management functionality service. It includes non-Git elements.
Microsoft OfficeOffice is a family of client software, server software, and services. Microsoft has promoted Office 365 as the primary means of obtaining Office.
Microsoft OneDriveOneDrive is a file hosting service and synchronization service. Users can upload Microsoft Office documents to OneDrive.
Microsoft OneNoteOneNote is a note-taking program for free-form information gathering and collaboration. It gathers users’ notes, drawings, screen clippings, and audio commentaries.
Microsoft OutlookOutlook is a personal information manager that's primarily an email client. It includes calendaring, task managing, contact managing, note-taking, journal logging, and web browsing.
Microsoft ProjectProject lets you develop schedules, assign resources, track progress, manage budget, and more. It's part of the Microsoft Office enterprise project management product.
Microsoft PublisherPublisher is a desktop publishing application with focus on page layout and design. Use text, photos and links to make professional publications personal.
Microsoft SkypeSkype is software for VoIP-based videotelephony, videoconferencing and voice calls. The software also provides instant messaging, file transfer, debit-based calls to landline and mobile telephones (over traditional telephone networks), and more.
Microsoft SwiftKeySwiftKey is a virtual keyboard app for Android. SwiftKey learns from previous typed text and outputs predictions based on currently inputted text and what it has learned.
Microsoft To DoTo Do is a cloud-based task management application. It allows users to manage their tasks from a smartphone, tablet and computer.
Microsoft VisioVisio is a diagramming and vector graphics application. Database modeling in Visio revolves around a Database Model Diagram (DMD).
Visual StudioVisual Studio is an integrated development environment. It is used to develop computer programs, as well as websites, web apps, web services and mobile apps.
Microsoft YammerYammer is a social-networking platform for organizations. It’s a closed platform sometimes described as Facebook for businesses.
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