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Geek Reviews: Using Dia As a Free Replacement for Microsoft Visio

The retail price of diagramming software Microsoft Visio 2007 ranges between $550 to $259 depending on if you choose professional or standard, which is a lot of money for somebody on a budget. Since we love to write about replacing expensive applications with high quality free alternatives, today we are writing about Dia, a free alternative.

Dia is capable of creating electronic circuit diagrams, computer network diagrams and even simple flowcharts for business projects. You can export these diagrams with a number of image formats, or even in a format readable by Visio.

Using Dia

Dia may not be as graphically glamorous as MS Visio (hence saving a lot of system resources) but you can certainly get detailed diagrams created for your needs.

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When you launch Dia you will get a view of the Toolbox.  Here is where you choose objects and other tools to create the diagrams, graphs, and charts.

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The other screen which opens is the Canvass.  This is where you will create and edit your project.

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Let’s go through and create a basic computer network diagram.  These are sometimes used religiously by network administrators.  This example is very simple, but keep in mind you can create diagrams as complex as you need.  First you will want to go through and pick the appropriate object library for the project.  There are several included by default in Dia.

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After you have your toolbox set up the way you want go to the canvass and start creating the diagram.  Creation is very simple once you have a basic idea of your diagram or chart.  Select the objects you want to put in from the tool box then click an area in the Canvass to place them.  You can resize and move them around however you see fit.  Text labels and boxes are easily added.

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You can also convert your diagram to several different formats by right clicking the saved file and selecting from the menu.

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Here is an example of PNG format.  This comes in handy so you can easily post the diagram in an email or on a web server for colleagues to view.

Test Diagram

Download Dia For Windows or Linux

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/4/08

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