What are good alternatives to Microsoft Visio?

I use it in my Android/iPhone app design workflow to illustrate a sequence of actions. Then I can generate a PDF to share with developers. However, it gets clunky with a lot of screens since Visio is not great with external graphics.

(I'm not using it for UI design, but simply to organize screens and assemble them into user scenarios)

7 Answers 7


Dia - this is the best diagramming tool I've ever used.

Kivio - a similar diagramming tool that is part of KOffice.

  • So far I'm really impressed with Dia. It handles surprisingly well with a large volume of high res UI screens. And my PDF exports actually look better quality with Dia than with Visio. Oh, and it can update source graphics without having to re-import them. Good riddance to Visio.
    – Derrick
    Nov 29, 2010 at 1:16
  • I've tried a few, Dia came closest to my expectations, but I fundamentally miss Ctrl+Drag to clone - especially combined with Shift+drag = H/VAlign.
    – peterchen
    Nov 29, 2010 at 17:44
  • +1 for Dia, we use it in my company with excellen results Apr 23, 2013 at 19:39

I use Balsamiq for wireframes, sketches and illustrating screen from screen workflow. It works well and is available for all major operating systems.

  • Never actually tried Balsamiq but I've seen the results - and I think it's good for rough sketches & wireframes but what I have is a finished design that needs to be showcased across a multi-page PDF. Does Balsamiq allow you to import graphics?
    – Derrick
    Nov 28, 2010 at 16:21
  • Yes it does, but it automatically turns them grey scale and makes them look sketchy.
    – Ryan Doom
    Nov 28, 2010 at 21:17
  • Hmm, yeah Balsamiq is for early stage design. I'm in late stage; and need to present the finished design in PDF.
    – Derrick
    Nov 29, 2010 at 0:46
  • Gotcha - so finished design would mean high quality designs of the GUI. Photoshop files or something like that. So - I think the highest quality option may be to just make some sweet looking arrows, and workflow images/icons and do it all in Photoshop? I know in Adobe Fireworks you can do different pages and then export all the pages to a PDF very easily. That's what I use when doing detailed designs of every page / screen.
    – Ryan Doom
    Nov 29, 2010 at 1:08
  • Yeah that works but the problem arises when you have 100+ high res UI screens in a single document. Fireworks can't handle that (although it is great for designing the UI itself).
    – Derrick
    Nov 29, 2010 at 1:13

Omnigraffle is typically the preferred alternative for traditional Visio tasks.

That said, it sounds like you are actually creating paper prototypes/visual layout/design documents in which case I'd go with an app such as Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape of Fireworks.


This is not an alternative but that it may come in handy if you continue using Visio. http://www.artfulbits.com/Android/Stencil.aspx


Illustrator might actually be a good solution then.

  • Alternatively, a lot of people also use Adobe Fireworks for wireframes. And Adobe Flash Catalyst can be used for creating interactive prototypes. Nov 28, 2010 at 15:54
  • Thanks. I'm actually already using Fireworks to create the UI. But Visio is nice because I can quickly create a layout for showing a large amount of screens at once; across a large number of pages then export to PDF (a large app can consist of some 50 pages of sequences).
    – Derrick
    Nov 28, 2010 at 16:16

creately.com - online diagramming, wireframe/mockups. should get you sorted.

  • Thanks, looks like a decent web based diagramming tool, but I need something that runs on desktop.
    – Derrick
    Nov 28, 2010 at 1:49

Diagramly, if you want free and simple.

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