DIA: Free Program to Design and Create Diagrams

Diagrams are a resource that almost anyone uses every day for different processes that a priori can be difficult to understand. The interconnection of its elements means that no point in the process is lost. This causes a better assimilation in the person who sees it and much faster than if we try to explain whatever the process is. From the presentation of meetings, through conferences, or, in a more technical world we find flow charts. And DIA is one of the programs that will best allow us to do this.

The market for diagramming programs is very extensive. We have from Microsoft Visio through Gliffy or even UML Designer. The latter oriented to the professional world, is in charge of transforming our JAVA language code into an easy-to-understand diagram, and can even do the same process in reverse. Be that as it may, the truth is that we must look for software that is adapted to the user experience that we want to have and, in addition, that meets all our needs without complementing it with other third-party programs.

DIA: Free Program to Design and Create Diagrams

DIA Diagram Editor

DIA is a free application designed to create technical diagrams. It is oriented to the professional world. Given its interface and its technical characteristics, it reminds us directly of Microsoft Visio, included in the Microsoft Office package. One of the most important features of DIA is that it can export multi-page diagrams that are not possible with other softwares to EPS, SVG CGM and even PNG formats.

Among the most prominent uses of DIA are the creation of UML diagrams, network maps and flow diagrams, providing a more general vision of what we are designing.

DIA export formats

DIA is prepared to work with the following formats:

  • EPS (Encapsulated PostScript)
  • SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)
  • DXF (Autocad’s Drawing Interchange Format)
  • CGM (Computer Graphics Metafile defined by ISO standards)
  • WMF (Windows Meta File)
  • PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
  • JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
  • VDX (Microsoft’s XML for Visio Drawing)

How to create our first diagram with DIA

Before making the diagram we must be clear about the elements that will make up our diagram and what would be the best way to represent it. Therefore we must be clear about two points:

  • What are the elements that enter our system and what would be the output.
  • We must decide which is the best orientation for its understanding, although the norms indicate that we must do it vertically (top-down) since not all problems are the same and therefore their representation.

We can define different kinds of diagrams whether we want to represent a project or simply have an overview of a specific process. What we must understand is that if we apply a diagram to our work, it will improve the costs of time and money. In addition, we will obtain a higher quality final result since we will be able to see how we can improve the difficult process to understand in much simpler parts.

Once DIA is installed we find its interface that will remind us as we have already said to Visio. With large icons it shows us, in a first instance, the most used tools such as: selecting, entering text, expanding, moving, various geometric shapes and, most importantly, the different types of connectors to do it.

Interfaz DIA

On the other hand, we find a divided submenu with a drop-down selector that will give us access to the different types of figures, depending on the type of diagram that we are executing. DIA includes the following types of diagrams.

  • Database
  • BPMN
  • Cybernetics
  • Civil
  • Cisco- Switch
  • Circuit
  • Cisco- Miscellaneous
  • Cisco – Network
  • Cisco computer
  • Cisco – Telephony
  • Schedule
  • Flowchart
  • Electric
  • Different types of ER diagrams (entity – relationship)
  • Stairs
  • FS
  • Win and Sarson
  • Logic
  • Lights
  • Isometric Map
  • Chemical motor
  • MSE
  • Pneumatic / Hydraulic
  • Puzzle
  • Net
  • SADT
  • Assorted diagrams
  • Sybase
  • UML

Once we have chosen our diagram type, we incorporate and fill in the different components. An example of what we can achieve with day is the following diagram.

Diagrama por capas con DIA

DIA a majors has a level of personalization that we can find quite interesting. Among the points that we can personalize we find for example the color of the background of the document, distance between lines, etc. It also has the option of adding new features through plugins that we will find in its community.

As a personal opinion I have used various alternatives to make the various diagrams that I have needed, some for payment and other free alternatives. Most of them meet the needs for interface and functionality we are looking for, but few offer the versatility in terms of formats and diagram types than DIA. Being a totally free alternative, it is an alternative that we must take into account when selecting one program or another.

DIA development began in 1998 and was funded through donations. It is currently in version 0.97.2 and can be downloaded from its website.

Let’s talk about its advantages and disadvantages of DIA

Now that we have designed our first diagram we can draw our various conclusions from the program. Regarding its advantages, we can say that thanks to the multitude of types with which we can export, it is about making developing a diagram with the software a synonym of interconnection with other third-party programs. If we can say something about its drawbacks, it is basically that despite being multilanguage, its manuals are only developed in four languages, among which Spanish is not included. However, we can use Google’s own translator to upload the PDF file and get a little light on the translation of the manual.

It is clear that to understand any type of process in a quick and easy way to consult the best option is to make a diagram. There are many ways to make diagrams, some more complicated than others, but what we can say is that when making the decision to make a diagram or not, we must observe various factors such as the complexity of the process and how long we it will take to do it.