Animal and plant forms of life draw a variety of sustenance from the earth. For instance, early human civilizations harnessed the power of wind and water to drive minor machineries that served the demands of agriculture. They also fashioned techniques to use mounds of earth as defensive fortifications, and deployed wood and stone to create dwelling units for the masses and royalty alike. Similarly, other expressions of animal life continue to use various natural implements to sustain age-old lifestyles. Ants continue to be prolific builders that construct tunnels under the earth and small mud-baked hills above the surface. Bees use nectar to power their beehives, while birds build nests using a variety of natural implements. Essentially, free tools – harnessed to animal intelligence – dominate the overriding themes that emerge from the above narrative. In a similar vein, the imperatives of modern commerce provide designers free tools to create flowcharts. The motivations that underlie such offerings are many; we will examine some such tools in the paragraphs below.
LucidChart represents one of the commercial manifestations of free tools to create flowcharts. This brand of analytical tool maker offers its users free accounts to create an unlimited number of flowchart diagrams. The Web-enabled application encourages collaboration among multiple users with a view to promote the best design outcomes. LucidChart has engineered its free tool to work seamlessly inside a variety of Internet browsers. The intent, clearly, is to empower users to utilize this tool and publish outcomes in real time. The creators of flowcharts may use such free tools to create flowcharts, website wireframes, mind maps, prototypes of software packages, etc. LucidChart also encourages users of connected tablets to explore the application on such portable digital devices. In addition, the firm has engineered enterprise-grade security features into its tools with a view to promote the integrity of users’ creations. Work teams can choose to subscribe to LucidChart’s tools for $20 per month.
Edraw offers designers a polished mind map application as part of its offerings of free tools to create flowcharts. This application is a refined expression of a modern software tool and includes onscreen functionalities to create diagrams, position text, and adjust the layout per user specifications and requirements. Non-commercial users and designers that work from home can use a variety of free shapes that populate the typical flowchart. Notably, the Edraw application also allows designers the use of a range of pre-defined templates. These features enable the novice designer to learn the art of designing a modern flowchart. Design veterans can utilize such free tools to create flowcharts that stand out from the average instances of a designer’s efforts. In addition, Edraw offers free maintenance for all users; this allows the application to evolve with time. Further, the Edraw tool is engineered to integrate smoothly into Microsoft Office. Meanwhile, users of Macintosh software and hardware products can also benefit from the full functionalities of the Edraw design package.
Dia is a standalone offering that ranks among free tools to create flowcharts. This package allows designers to create network diagrams as also software functionality to convert UML to code. The creators of Dia evidently targeted a wide swathe of users by offering documentation in a variety of European languages. These include French, Polish, English, German, and Basque. The Dia package is well designed to cater to most of the requirements of an average designer of flowcharts. It includes libraries of flowchart symbols, a range of connectors, the means to annotate objects inside flowcharts, etc. Reviewers of the Dia package comment favorably on the performance of the package; the help menu is adequately designed to assist new users of this package. However, Dia does not offer a spellcheck feature and therefore, designers must work to create perfect spelling when inserting text into diagrams powered by this package. That said, reviewers of such flowcharts could summon properties and metadata when they click on various elements positioned inside the diagram.
A part of the Microsoft Office family of software applications, Microsoft Visio features prominently in any ranking of free tools to create flowcharts. In most aspects, this application conforms to the expectations of modern designers and graphic creators. The tool is ideal for use in creating a variety of illustrations such as organizational charts, website wireframes, UML designs, mind maps, software prototypes, and other diagrams. Microsoft has equipped Visio with enterprise grade security features in a bid to attract a wide range of users. The application integrates smoothly with Microsoft Excel, SharePoint, SQL Azure, and SQL Server. However, Visio lacks certain features that are (by and large) common to free tools to create flowcharts. Visio lacks the ability to promote collaboration between remote teams in real time, operates exclusively on the Windows platform, and must be downloaded and installed onto user’s computing devices. The lack of cloud integration also remains a glaring shortfall when we survey the capabilities of this otherwise competent application.
In a globalized world, collaboration among work teams has emerged as a key enabling feature when we survey free tools to create flowcharts. Creately takes collaboration seriously; it has built in significant functionality that enables collaboration. This tool works in both offline and online modes and is equally at home both in the cloud and on desktop operating environments. Work teams that collaborate in a cloud environment pay $25 per month for working on unlimited projects within said timeframe. Desktop users can pay $75 annually and gain access to free updates and premium features on this diagram making product. Creately allows users to design flowcharts, website wireframes, organizational charts, sales process flowcharts, UML designs, software prototypes, etc. Users and reviewers can track version histories on this product and may insert comments at various levels of the diagram. These features attest to the versatility of this software application, which also integrates flawlessly with Google Apps, Confluence, and JIRA.
Balsamiq has designed and released a free tool that allows designers to fashion a variety of user interface mockups. The product features a unique horizontal preview panel that empowers users to track the various design actions that contribute to the creation of a final diagram. Creators can use the Balsamiq program to create mind maps, software prototypes, multiple organizational charts, website wireframes, UML designs, etc. In addition, the product allows users to export screen creations to vector PDFs and PNG images. This manifestation of free tools to create flowcharts offers users a range of administrative controls and enterprise grade security modules. In addition, Balsamiq integrates with Google Apps, Confluence, and JIRA. A single user license costs $89 after a user has availed a free 30-day trial offer. Work teams and groups of designers can opt to pay $178 for a volume license that grants extended usage of this product.
The above paragraphs have described a variety of free tools that help designers to create flowchart diagrams. Most of these applications are competitive offerings that provide users with sets of digital implements. The collaboration and integration aspects have emerged as vital in the modern world. In line with this, product creators must work to promote such aspects in their software applications. These attributes will spotlight these tools as truly productive arrows that can distinguish a designer’s quiver of design implements.