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Freeware of the Week! [Dia]

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If you’ve ever had to plan a complicated for, you may have laid out the necessary processes in the form of a flow diagram. The go-to program in this instance would be Microsoft Visio, but it seems excessive to pay a hefty chunk of money for a program you may only use a few times a year. Luckily, there is a freeware alternative that is more than up to the job.

Dia is a GTK+ diagram visual-editing program for Linux and Windows that can be used to draw many different kinds of diagrams. While it is blatantly “inspired” by Viso, the program is more geared towards the occasional user, though that is not to say that it is a lesser offering. It can create a range of professional-looking diagrams, from network maps and workflows to circuits and UML diagrams.

Dia’s interface is very similar to the GIMP layout on which it is based and it is very easy to use. It isn’t the prettiest in the world, and it does take some getting used to, but once you have the hang of it, it’s a breeze to work with. The controls are bg-free and easy to use, with each type of object having its own configuable attributes.

Dia is nothing if not versatile, and in addition to saving and printing diagrams can also load save and export them in a variety of formats, including, XML, SVG,  EPS, WMF and PNG. This means that new symbols or sheets of symbols are very easy and simple to add to existing diagrams.

Bear mind that if you do want to download Dia, you will also need to download GTK+ toolkit in order to run it. While Dia is only on version 0.96.1, I’ve found it to be robust and full-featured, with all the tools needed to create complex diagrams. If you’ve been looking for an alternative to Visio with which to put together diagrams, you couldn’t go far wrong with Dia.

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