The 7 Best Flowchart Software of 2020

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Flowchart software makes it easy to create visual diagrams that represent product development workflows, technical diagrams, company organizational charts, and more. The best platforms offer a large library of diagram templates and objects, import from and export to multiple file types, and make it easy to create and share professional presentations with anyone, anywhere.

We looked at over a dozen flowchart platforms and chose the best based on ease-of-use, features, integrations, price, and more. Here are our top seven picks.

The 7 Best Flowchart Software of 2020

Best Overall: Lucidchart

Lucidchart

Lucidchart

Launched in 2008, Lucidchart is a web-based platform that lets users collaborate on drawing, editing, and sharing charts and diagrams. The company’s website claims that 99% of the Fortune 500 uses Lucidchart, making it one of the most widely used flowchart programs on the market. We chose it as the best overall because of its ease of use, extensive import and export features, integrations, and real-time collaboration.

Lucidchart offers over 750 templates and a drag-and-drop shapes library, which makes it easy to create flowcharts, organizational charts, mind maps, prototypes, wireframes, and more. As a web-based platform, Lucidchart can be used with Ma, PC or Linux systems using Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. It also offers both iOS and Android apps.

Lucidchart also integrates with G Suite, Atlassian, Slack, Salesforce, and Microsoft Office, allowing users to easily integrate it into their workflows. The software can import and export files to and from other diagramming tools, including Microsoft Visio, OmniGraffle, Gliffy, and Draw.io. Finally, Lucidchart offers seamless online collaboration allowing all users to see edits being made in real-time.

Lucidchart offers a free personal plan and paid plans with a seven-day free trial and the following features:

Free Plan

  • $0
  • Introductory shape libraries
  • 100 basic templates

Individual Plan

  • Starting at $7.95 per month
  • Unlimited documents
  • Unlimited objects
  • 1 GB of storage
  • Visio import/export
  • Advanced shapes
  • Presentation mode
  • 750+ templates
  • Basic data and automation

Team Plan

  • Starting at $27.00 per month for 3 users
  • All Individual Plan features
  • Advanced real-time collaboration
  • Microsoft, Google, and 30+ additional integrations

Runner-Up, Best Overall: SmartDraw

SmartDraw

SmartDraw

SmartDraw was created in 1994 as a diagramming tool for Windows users. In 2016 it added a web-based version of its software and, like Lucidchart, claims a large percentage of Fortune 500 businesses as users. We chose it as our runner-up because, while it offers far more templates than Lucidchart plus intelligent formatting, it’s more expensive and a little more difficult to use.

SmartDraw boasts an enormous library of over 4,500 templates compared to approximately 750 offered by Lucidchart, including options for crime scenes, landscape gardening, seating plans, and even accident reconstruction. Smartdraw also offers over 34,000 unique symbols for just about any use one can imagine.

One of SmartDraw’s most powerful features is its intelligent formatting. Users simply choose a template and the software automatically connects and rearranges shapes as they’re moved around. Shapes can be drawn using just the keyboard and are automatically placed in the right position and connected to other shapes. This allows for faster diagram creation and more visually appealing presentations.

SmartDraw integrates with a variety of workflow and storage platforms, including Confluence, JIRA, Trello, G Suite, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Box. Users can also send SmartDraw diagrams to any Microsoft application (including Visio) with just one click.

SmartDraw offers a single user license for its Windows desktop software for $297, with multiple users (5+) starting at $595. Pricing for the web-based software is as follows and includes a seven-day free trial:

Single User

  • $9.95 per month
  • 4,500+ templates and 34,000+ symbols
  • Intelligent formatting
  • Integration with Microsoft Office, G Suite, Confluence, and Jira
  • Save and open diagrams from Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and OneDrive
  • Visio import and export

Multiple Users (5+)

  • $5.95 per user per month
  • All Single User features
  • Team administrative controls
  • Document retention and control
  • Ability to consolidate accounts
  • Premium support

Best for Beginners: Gliffy

Gliffy

Gliffy

Gliffy was created in 2005 by two friends and software engineers who wanted to build a fully cloud-based diagramming tool. Today, Gliffy boasts over 16 million registered users and offers integrations with Google Apps, Google Drive, JIRA, and Confluence. We chose it as the best for beginners because of its intuitive drag-and-drop interface.

Making flowcharts and diagrams in Gliffy is quick and easy. Users simply choose a template and drag over the shapes they need. Shapes snap neatly into place with a built-in grid keeping presentations clean and tidy. Users can choose from a variety of shapes and icons or drag custom graphics from their computers.

Gliffy also has native integration with Jira and Confluence software so users can easily create network diagrams and flowcharts without leaving the app. The platform can also import Visio files, export images and SVG (vector files), and save created charts to Google Drive.

Gliffy offers two paid plans, both of which come with a 14-day free trial and offer the following features:

Personal Plan

  • $7.99 per month
  • Unlimited diagrams
  • Access to templates
  • 24/7 email support

Team Plan

  • $4.99 per user per month
  • All Personal Plan features
  • Live diagram embedding
  • Google Drive plug-in
  • Private sharing
  • Commenting tool

Best for Intuitive Use: Cacoo

Cacoo

Cacoo

Cacoo was created in 2004 by the Japanese company Nulab as part of a trio of apps designed to improve team collaboration. It offers hundreds of templates ideal for development, product design, marketing, and project management teams. We chose it as the best for intuitive use because it is easy to use and navigate even for those who are not tech-savvy.

Cacoo is an entirely web-based application with an intuitive interface that lets users start creating diagrams in minutes. Choose from a library of templates and shapes to create flowcharts, wireframes, network diagrams, or import images and screenshots to any design.

Cacoo integrates with Visio and Slack as well as cloud services like Google Drive and Docs, Confluence, Adobe Creative Cloud, Box, and Dropbox. Files can be exported in SVG, PDF, and even PowerPoint formats or embedded in web pages and wikis. Finally, Cacoo offers a team plan that lets users create, edit, and comment on projects in real-time.

Cacoo offers a free plan as well as three paid plans with a 14-day free trial:

Free Plan:

  • $0
  • Unlimited users 
  • Unlimited sheets
  • 1 shared folder
  • Exporting (PNG only)
  • Email support

Pro Plan:

  • $5 per month annually, or $6 monthly
  • 1 user 
  • Unlimited sheets
  • Exporting (PNG, SVG, PDF, PS, PPT)
  • Revision history
  • Email support

Team Plan:

  • $5 per user per month annually, or $6 per user monthly
  • Up to 200 users
  • All Pro Plan features
  • 1-on-1 online training session
  • Priority email support

Best Features: Edraw Max

Edraw Max

Edraw Max

EdrawSoft was established in 2004 and is best known for its popular MindMaster mind mapping software. Edraw Max is another offering in the company’s suite of diagramming tools that it claims is “more powerful than Microsoft Visio.” We chose it as the platform with the best features because of its variety of templates and graphic elements, integrations, and export features.

Like most popular flowchart software, Edraw Max features an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that’s easy to use. Users can choose from a variety of industry-standard symbols and drag them into any project or create custom symbols. Edraw Max also offers thousands of templates for 280 different types of diagrams, making it one of the most versatile diagramming platforms.

Edraw Max is supported on Mac, Windows, and Linux systems and can be used on mobile devices. The software easily exports to any Microsoft Office software and can also export files in a wide variety of formats, including Visio, SVG, PDF, JPEG, HTML, and more.

Edraw Max offers three licensing options and a 15-day free trial:

Subscription License

  • $99 per year
  • Includes 280 types of diagrams
  • 1 license for 2 devices
  • Supports Windows
  • 1-year upgrade guarantee

Perpetual License

  • $139
  • All Subscription License features
  • Supports Windows and Mac
  • 3-year upgrade guarantee

Lifetime License

  • $179
  • All Perpetual License features
  • Supports Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • Free lifetime upgrade guarantee

Best Price: Draw.io

Draw.io

Draw.io

Originally developed as a plugin for Confluence and Jira, Draw.io is a standalone, open-source diagramming tool that can be used both online and offline. We chose it for the best price since it’s free and offers affordable options for teams that need Confluence and Jira hosting.

Draw.io offers a simple drag-and-drop interface with a visual grid layout that's common to many diagramming tools. It features a large library of shapes and templates and integrations with G Suite, Dropbox, OneDrive, and other cloud services. It can also import files from Visio, Gliffy, and Lucidchart and export to a wide variety of popular formats.

Although Draw.io is free for individuals and doesn’t require an account to get started, it does offer pricing plans for Confluence users. Integration with Confluence Cloud starts at $5 for 10 users, integration with Confluence Server starts at $10 for 10 users, and integration with Confluence Data Center starts at $2,200 for 500 users.

Best for Power Windows Users: Visio

Visio

Visio

Developed in 1992, Visio was one of the first diagramming tools with intelligent drawings that restructured drawings as users moved objects around. It was a widely known tool since it was distributed free with Microsoft Windows and was later incorporated into Microsoft Office when the company acquired it in 2000. We chose it as the best for Windows power users since it has been built within the Microsoft ecosystem for the last 20 years.

Visio’s familiar Microsoft Office interface makes it easy to use and navigate for users of other Microsoft products. Users can get started quickly with a library of templates and take advantage of Visio’s sorting feature, which automatically rearranges messy and confusing flowcharts.

Visio’s strongest features are its integration with Microsoft Office. Users can convert Excel sheets into Viso diagrams or sync sheets with diagrams, export sections of workflows to PowerPoint and Word, automate workflow diagrams using Power Automate, and collaborate on Visio files using Microsoft Teams.

Visio can also export charts as an image, web file, PDF, or as an AutoCAD drawing. The software offers fewer integrations than many of the other options we reviewed and include Lucidchart, The VIP Test Modeller, AxisTV, netTerrain Logical, and Digital Enterprise Suite.

As a Microsoft product, Visio is only available as a Windows download. Two membership plans are available with a 30-day free trial as well as more robust Standard and Professional versions:

Visio Plan 1

  • $5 per user per month
  • File sharing
  • 2 GB OneDrive storage

Visio Plan 2

  • $15 per user per month
  • All Visio Plan 1 features
  • Extra templates and shapes
  • Touchscreen drawing
  • One-step Excel data visualization
  • Multiple PC use and automatic updates

Visio Standard 2019

  • $280
  • Licensed for 1 PC
  • Build diagrams that support industry standards (BPMN 2.0 and UML 2.5)

Visio Professional 2019

  • $530
  • Licensed for 1 PC

What Is Flowchart Software?

Flowchart software makes it easy to create any sort of visual diagram, from project workflows and company organization charts to network diagrams and floor plans.

Because flowcharts need to be clear and organized in order to make sense, the best software offers diagram templates, shapes, and connectors to create visually appealing and understandable diagrams.

Since each flowchart software is a contained system, it’s also useful to find a platform that can export diagrams in a variety of file types so they can be shared in presentations or with others. Many even allow projects made with other flowchart software to be imported and edited.

How Does Flowchart Software Work?

The most useful feature of flowchart software is the template library. There are certain ways a company’s organizational chart or project development workflow should look. From there, a platform allows a user to easily select and move shapes into place and label them as needed.

Flowchart software can also make it easy to share, collaborate, and comment on diagrams in a team setting to produce visualizations that work for everyone. The end result is to visually present a workflow, process, or relationship that brings clarity and efficiency to teams.

How Much Does Flowchart Software Cost?

Most flowchart software uses subscription-based pricing, which can range from $5 to $10 per user per month or more for large teams. Others offer a one-time purchase price that can range from $139 to $530. A few also offer a free version with limited features.

Providers who offer tiered plans usually include more integration, import and export, and collaboration features in their higher plans.

When Is Flowchart Software Worth Purchasing?

Most individuals who want to create a simple diagram for their personal use or to share with a small team will find that a free flowchart software will do the trick. There are some instances, however, when a paid program is necessary.

In the world of IT, software and product development, or engineering, workflows can be more complex. This is where a user can benefit from a selection of templates and industry-standard shapes and connectors to create meaningful diagrams.

Finally, for complex diagrams that will be referenced often and across an entire organization, paid flowchart software allows users to collaborate, share, and export diagrams to multiple users and stakeholders in clear, visually appealing presentations.

How We Chose the Best Flowchart Software

We looked at over a dozen flowchart platforms in our review. We tried to present a wide range of options, from users with simple needs to those who need to create collaborative diagrams shared across large teams.

Our main considerations were programs that were easy to use, available on multiple platforms (Mac, PC, etc.), import and export features, and overall affordability. While we did include some software with robust real-time collaboration, most offered enough in the way of file sharing and conversion sufficient for smaller teams working on the same visualization.

In the end, we found that ease-of-use was the most important consideration. Individuals and teams who get bogged down by tedious interfaces are less likely to actually create flowcharts that will streamline their workflows. We recommend users without specific industry needs (like engineers needing to create technical diagrams) start with useability and not let themselves get distracted by features they don’t need or don’t anticipate needing.

Article Sources

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  1. Nulab. "About Us." Accessed May 25, 2020.