Five flow charting applications

There are a number of different tools available to help you to create flowcharts. Brien Posey lists five apps he has tried.

As a freelance technology writer, I find myself often having to create various types of charts. In doing so, I have discovered that there are a number of different tools available to help you to create flowcharts. Here are five such tools.

This article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Five Apps

1. 1888 Quick Flow Chart Creator

1888 Quick Flow Chart Creator is a free flow chart application. This particular application doesn't really measure up to the paid applications, but it will get the job done.

The program provides a series of flow chart symbols that you can place on the screen and connect to one another. You also have the ability to change the color of the symbols or add text to them.

The program is fine for creating a basic flow chart, but it isn't really conducive to high precision work. There don't seem to be any tools to help you line up the objects that you place on the screen, so producing a clean looking flow chart can take a bit of practice. The software could also benefit from some better documentation, as it took me a few minutes to figure out how to use some of the features.

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2. WizFlow Flowcharter

WizFlow Flowcharter is a very basic flow charting application that seems to work really well. This program starts off by asking you to choose a color pallet, font, etc. After doing so, you are presented with a screen containing a series of objects that you can drag and drop to create your flowchart.

I found the interface to be very intuitive, but admittedly, it took me a few tries to get the hang of object placement. The process wasn't difficult, it was just a little bit different from what I was used to. All things considered, this application is probably a good choice for those who need basic flow charting capabilities.

WizFlow Flowcharter sells for $69.95, but a free 30-day trial is available.

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3. RFFlow

RFFlow is everything that a flow charting application should be. The utility is fast, efficient, and intuitive. It makes light work of object placement and a popup takes all of the guess work out of adding text to an object. The program also makes it simple to resize, move, or delete objects that you have already created. The software even includes templates that you can use to create various other types of charts.

RFFlow sells for $49.00, but a free trial version is available for download.

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4. Novagraph Chartist

Novagraph Chartist is a relatively powerful tool for creating flow charts and other types of charts (such as organizational charts). Although there is a bit of a learning curve associated with using this tool, it is at least somewhat intuitive. More importantly, the tool is jam packed with features and should be able to accommodate even the most demanding flow charting requirements.

Novagraph Chartist sells for $49.00, but a free trial version is available for download.

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5. Microsoft Visio Professional 2013

Microsoft Visio Professional 2013 is the flow chart application that I personally use for my day to day work. The main reason why I use Visio is because it's built in network diagramming tools are extremely helpful for some of the books and articles that I write.

When it comes to creating flow charts (as opposed to network diagrams or other types of diagrams), Visio is easy to use. It behaves much like other Microsoft Office applications, such as Word or Publisher. Visio allows you to drag and drop objects to build your flow chart.

In all honesty, Visio performs almost identically to RFFlow, which costs a small fraction of what Visio costs. If you only need to create flow charts, you are probably better off getting RFFlow than Visio. However, if you need to be able to create a wide variety of chart types then Visio is an excellent application choice.

Microsoft Visio Professional 2013 sells for $589.99.

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