SmartDraw is a flowchart and diagram creator. Whether you want to create floor plans, mind maps, business diagrams, or any other sort of diagram, SmartDraw is one of the most popular tools for doing so.
However, SmartDraw has a major drawback: It is not free. That causes many people to search for a free SmartDraw alternative – after all, paying a monthly fee might not be an option if you are on a budget.
Furthermore, SmartDraw is not open source.
Today, I will be listing the 12 best SmartDraw alternatives. Some of them, though not all, are also open source.
Let’s get into it.
If you need a free SmartDraw alternative that won’t hide certain features behind a paywall, look no further than Diagrams.net. Diagrams.net is an open source software that you can use online, without even needing to sign up, create an account, or provide your details.
Diagrams.net was formerly known as Draw.io. Draw.io still redirects to Diagrams.net.
Both an online web app and a downloadable desktop program are available. The web app works in most browsers, including Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, Edge, and the native iOS and Android browsers.
However, you may experience difficulties if your browser version is old or outdated.
Diagrams.net integrates with your existing editing tools. For example, there is an add-on for Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides, and it integrates with various Microsoft apps.
If you use Notion, which is a tool for taking notes, you can create diagrams and flowcharts with Diagrams.net using the Draw.io for Notion Chrome extension.
On the left side of the web app, you can find different shapes to create your flowcharts, including arrows and an entire section of shapes for flowcharts.
You can add customizable text, change the colors of shapes, and use keyboard shortcuts to undo edits and make editing easier.
After creating a diagram, you can download it directly to your computer or upload it to Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, GitHub, or GitLab for easier sharing with teams.
One thing worth noting is that while Diagrams.net is open source, it is not open to contributions. Being that it is a very complex project, a few simple changes can damage the project, so only select people can contribute.
Nevertheless, you can download the source code on GitHub here.
yEd, by yWorks, is a diagram creator that’s released as freeware, meaning anyone can use it for free, although it is not open source. It’s one of the best free SmartDraw alternatives, and it is available as a downloadable software or a web app.
The downloadable software is called yEd, while the web app is called yEd Live.
One of the cool things about yEd is that the software can help you automatically generate diagrams – all you have to do is import your data from an Excel sheet or XML file.
There are actually a number of other data sources you can use to import data from. For example, GEDCOM, which contains genealogical information, is one supported data source.
You can easily arrange your data, add a wide range of elements from the element library, label elements, position your labels, and more. The keyboard shortcuts, mouse zoom feature, search and select tools, and other shortcuts are designed to make using the software easy.
The different layout styles, from the hierarchical layout to the tree layout, ensure you can create a comprehensive diagram, regardless of what you are trying to display. Whether you are creating a network diagram or a family tree to document your family history, yEd can do it all.
Once it’s time to export your data, you again have several options. PDFs, SVG vector graphics, and PNG bitmaps are just some of the many supported export formats.
If you’d like to see some examples of different diagrams and charts created with yEd, check out the yEd Gallery. You can view, download, and print diagrams (those diagrams were submitted by users; diagrams you create using yEd don’t automatically get displayed in the yEd Gallery).
The web version, as mentioned, is called yEd Live, and it allows you to create diagrams without downloading any software. Like the downloadable yEd version, yEd Live comes with intelligent algorithms that automatically arrange data you import.
When working on a diagram in the online editor, it will save your work automatically. You will never have to worry about losing your work due to some sort of internet outage.
The browser version allows you to create custom palettes, which you can share with others. You can also create a direct link to your online diagram and share it with others.
When you have completed a diagram, you can export it as a PNG, SVG, or PDF file. Or, you can print it out for publishing; the web app will automatically format the document to make it fit paper copies perfectly.
As an alternative to downloading the diagram to your laptop, you may also upload it directly to the cloud. Dropbox, Google Drive, GitHub, and OneDrive are all supported – you can also import files from those sources to the web app directly, whether you created them yourself or they were shared with you by your colleagues.
It’s also worth mentioning that yWorks offers Graphity for Confluence users who want to create diagrams. Confluence is a collaboration tool used by many businesses all over the world.
However, unlike yEd, Graphity is not free, although it is very affordable.
While Lucidchart is proprietary software, it does have a free plan, making it a good SmartDraw alternative if your needs are not very extensive.
The free Lucidchart plan lets you work on three editable documents at a time. You get 100 professional templates that allow you to create flowcharts easily.
Even free Lucidchart users can integrate the tool with Microsoft Teams, other Microsoft tools, Google tools, and more. Furthermore, they can share links to their documents, embed them online, download them, and enjoy other basic collaboration features.
While SmartDraw offers a seven-day trial, Lucidchart’s free plan is free forever. I’m not including alternatives that only offer a free trial in this list, only those that are truly free or have a free plan that you can use for as long as you’d like.
Explore the best alternatives to Lucidchart here.
While OpenOffice is an entire suite of office tools, its Draw product, in particular, serves as a great free alternative to SmartDraw. Not only is it free, but the Apache OpenOffice project is open source, thus ensuring your no-cost access forever and giving you more flexibility.
The maximum page size on OpenOffice Draw is 300 cm x 300 cm. That gives you more than enough space for any diagram or flow chart you are creating, whether for personal or business use.
With the smart connectors and customizable glue points, creating organization charts and other diagrams is a breeze. There is even a clip art gallery where you can find free clip art to add to your diagrams, though you may also upload your own media as well.
You can upload and import graphics of many file types.
Once you’ve created your document, you can save it in the OpenDocument format, which you can open and use in any tool that supports the OpenDocument format. You can also save a flash version of your diagram.
LibreOffice is another open source suite of office tools. It is based on the OpenOffice project, though several crucial differences are apparent.
There are additional features and tools available on LibreOffice. Also, LibreOffice has better Microsoft compatibility – that is one of the reasons it came into existence.
Furthermore, LibreOffice tends to be updated more frequently.
As LibreOffice Draw is entirely free and open source, it makes for a perfect SmartDraw alternative.
Some features of LibreOffice include:
- A maximum page size of 300 cm x 300 cm
- Define your own glue points when using connectors
- Use elements in 3D
- Linear dimensions are calculated automatically when drawing
Creately is a chart, diagram, and visualization tool that comes with a free plan. Although the free plan has some limitations, it is free forever, thus making it a good SmartDraw alternative.
I loved the interface of Creately. The website is well-designed and provides an awesome customer experience, and you don’t need special skills to learn how to use Creately.
As a free user, you can create three different workspaces and work with five other team members. Those other collaborators can access the documents you are working on while you (the account owner) is online.
Real-time collaboration allows you to add comments and create threaded discussions for idea sharing and inspiration.
You can access 60 different shape types, including icons, connectors, text, and other elements.
Creately has a forum, where users can ask questions, browse questions and answers posted by others, and answer questions. As a free user, the Creately forum will be your only method of support.
If you need a free SmartDraw alternative for creating mind maps specifically, check out XMind. XMind is a brainstorming and mind mapping tool that helps you increase productivity and inspire yourself and others.
While you can use SmartDraw to create mind maps, it doesn’t come close to what XMind can do with mind maps, as XMind takes mind mapping to the next level.
You can create tree tables and choose different color themes to help you organize your thoughts. Another awesome feature is the ability to turn your mind maps into slideshows with Pitch Mode.
Pitch Mode comes with engaging layouts, and there are eye-catching transitions that help you show your mind map to others or simply help yourself visualize it another way.
Despite being software designed for mind mapping, XMind provides many types of charts and graphs. From the Logic Chart to the Org Chart, you can visualize your ideas or organize the thoughts of meeting attendees in a straightforward fashion.
XMind is designed to be used and accessed across multiple devices, meaning you can access your mind maps and brainstorm from wherever you are, even when on the go.
There is the desktop version, which you can download directly to your desktop or laptop. As an alternative, you can use the web version, which connects to Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox for quick cloud storage and easy collaboration.
There are also Android and iOS apps, which make it easy to brainstorm on the go. These apps have graphics engines that give you desktop-level power, with a smooth interface and an excellent user experience.
So, is XMind free? Yes, but when using it for free, some features will not be available, and all exported images and PDFs will come with an XMind watermark.
Also, you can only use XMind for free for personal use.
While XMind calls the free version a “trial version,” there is actually no time limit on the free version – you can use it for as long as you wish and enjoy most features. Yes, your downloads will have a watermark, but as long as you are using it for personal use, that shouldn’t be too bothersome.
To use XMind for free, select the “Free Download” option on the homepage.
A great SmartDraw alternative that is free is Dia. It is available as downloadable software for Windows, Mac, and Linux, although it has only been tested and shown to work on Windows XP through Windows 8.1.
SmartDraw doesn’t even work on Windows XP, so if you have one, Dia is definitely worth considering.
Dia is an open source software, which makes up for its somewhat outdated design. Despite its design not being as modern as other tools, it has all you need to create beautiful diagrams and maps.
There are many objects and shapes available to add to your diagrams. You can check them out here.
Documentation and user manuals are available on this page. User manuals are available in English, German, French, Polish, and Basque.
While Dia is free to use, you can support the project by making monetary donations. Donations are possible via PayPal, credit card, Bitcoin, or Flattr, which is a website that allows people to support their favorite creators and projects with one-time payments.
Miro is an online whiteboard and collaboration tool that allows you to create mind maps and other diagrams. As it is not just a diagram maker but a collaboration tool, Miro might be better than SmartDraw if you need to collaborate with your team on more than just diagrams.
You can get a lot done as a team when using Miro. The free diagram maker comes with different shapes and connectors, and you can have your team members access your diagrams directly in Miro or share it to one of the platforms that integrate with Miro.
There are plenty of premade templates to choose from. Even free members can use these premade templates; however, only premium members can create their own custom templates.
According to Miro, 70 percent of its users use Miro to create diagrams and process maps.
Unlike many other free SmartDraw alternatives, Miro does not limit the number of team members you can collaborate with, even when using the software for free. However, as a free member, you may only work on three editable whiteboards at once.
Still, you can integrate with Zapier, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, Slack, OneDrive, Trello, and many others. You can direct users to a specific section of a board and follow what they are doing.
You don’t get access to support as a free member, however, though you can browse the help center for solutions to common issues.
Another awesome diagramming and collaboration tool is Mural, which now has a forever free plan, giving it a spot on our list of the best free SmartDraw alternatives.
It is chock-full of awesome features, even on the free plan, which we will get into in a minute.
Mural is designed to complement your meetings. You can bring a digital whiteboard or diagram to any meeting to help your team visualize ideas, organize thoughts, and get more out of each discussion.
There are tons of templates you can use, regardless of the purpose or type of your meeting. You can create diagrams, add sticky notes, and even add polls or timers.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the most useful features available on Mural:
- Adjust the size of the canvas you will be working on
- Customize visitor avatar themes
- Enter private mode, so team members come up with unique ideas
- Use the laser pointer to highlight specific areas or parts of the diagram
- Create a poll people can vote on anonymously
- Start a timer, so people stay productive and don’t waste time
- Save shapes or diagrams to use later in future meetings
- Start a voice call at any time during a meeting
The free plan from Mural is pretty generous, even when compared to other SmartDraw alternatives. You will be limited to five “murals” or boards.
However, you can add as many team members as you would like for free. You can add both visitors and guests – you get to control who can view or edit your murals.
Not only that, but you get access to the full template library – that’s right, all of them! There are over 250 templates in the library.
Not only that, but even free members can create custom templates. All integrations are available on the free plan as well, except for Jira and GitHub.
Live chat support is not available to free members, but email support is.
In addition, all visual collaboration features will be available.
Mural is best for teams who meet frequently and need a whiteboard feature that supports diagramming and mind mapping. Its collaboration features and generous free plan are unmatched.
Visme is an infographic creation and flowchart tool, great for teams. It is free forever, unlike SmartDraw, and it provides free users with a limited number of templates and assets.
If you’d like to get an idea of the kind of free flowcharts you can create with Visme, check out these free flowchart templates. Both simple and more advanced flowcharts are available.
Free members can create an unlimited number of projects on Visme. However, they are limited to 100 MB of online storage.
You don’t need any design skills to work with Visme. Whether you are an individual or working with colleagues, you can use Visme for free, though collaboration features are limited on the free plan.
Educators and nonprofits can also use Visme, and they will even get special discounts if they need to upgrade to one of the premium plans.
All in all, while Visme doesn’t focus exclusively on diagrams, it’s still a great alternative to SmartDraw for generating quick flow charts from expertly designed templates, with little or no design skills.
Not a lot of people seem to be aware of this tool, but that’s a shame, considering its generous free plan. It’s really easy to sign up for a Whimsical account with your Google account, and you can immediately get started creating flowcharts, mind maps, wireframes, and more.
The free plan comes with team collaboration, up to 10 guests per workspace, and up to 1,000 items per workspace.
Creating flowcharts is super easy. Just add shapes, input text, and change the colors – it’s all very intuitive.
If you’d like to get an idea of what is possible, check out this sample flowchart from Whimsical. It is titled “How We Built Whimsical,” and it demonstrates how Whimsical was created.
In addition to the mind maps and flowcharts, you can create boards with sticky notes to help team members stay on track. It’s a nifty project management tool.
I recommend using DIagrams.net, formerly Draw.io. Not only is it free, but it is open source.
Furthermore, it has both a downloadable and a web version, integrates with many tools, makes it easy to collaborate with others and share your work, and is overall easy to use.
Benjamin Levin is a digital marketing professional with 4+ years of experience with inbound and outbound marketing. He helps small businesses reach their content creation, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising goals. His hobbies include reading and traveling.