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I'm a professor who is looking for a diagramming tool that will make "org chart" type and flowchart diagrams that look really slick and attractive. There are many mindmap tools out there, but I'm specifically looking for one that makes diagrams that look good.

I can't post images, but here's an example--I'd like one that looks better though

enter image description here

I've tried Smartdraw, which is ok but somewhat cumbersome, and freemind, whose diagrams don't look very good. Are there any others yo could recommend

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closed as not constructive by Ben Brocka May 21 '12 at 15:51

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5 Answers

Omnigraffle is an excellent tool for org charts and many other drawing tasks. It comes with an attractive Org Chart stencil, and there are likely others you could download for free from Graffletopia.

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yEd has many features and is free.

Hierarchical layout:

enter image description here

So does Gliffy:

enter image description here

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I wrestled with this very question when creating a large, complex org chart for an acupuncture school. In the end, the best design was not achievable through any off-the-shelf solution. Computers cannot design well on their own.

The problem with typical programs is what Edward Tufte calls chartjunk … those elements on the page that look neat-o but don't actually convey any information beyond simple hierarchy. Look at the examples and you might notice that the actual information is the hardest part to read. That's backwards.

Make the information obvious, and map the relationships using position and minimal lines.

I created the attached example using Illustrator, but you could probably achieve something similar using Microsoft Word or anything else that lets you lay out text and colored lines.

AIMC Berkeley 2007 Org Chart

It would be impossible to achieve this sort of information density using an automated tool.

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If you're looking for inexpensive (or free), Lovelycharts is where it's at.

I really like Visio for ERDs, Org Charts, Sitemaps, etc, but it's more expensive.

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Omnigraffle. One of the great features is you can build a 'diagram style' and then apply it to multiple diagrams. It also has auto-layout, which is either nice or horrible depending on what you want to do. It's a vector-based program, so everything scales nicely. You can bring cool icons and other graphics from vector programs like Illustrator, or even high-res photoshop pngs/jpgs, etc. It's easy to get some really cool stuff. Even out of the box, just using omnigraffle, you can control almost every element of an object--line weight, padding, colors, placement, rounding, spacing between objects, direction of diagram, etc. I've been doing diagrams for 15 years, and Omnigraffle is the best app I've used. I've used freemind, mind node pro, visio, omnigraffle, photoshop, illustrator, smartdraw, mind manager, x-mind, etc.

Also, org chart pro is horrible. And Visio 2010 has an org chart wizard built in to it, you don't need an extension.

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