Memfault State of IoT Report

Block diagram software

Started by rnp 4 years ago11 replieslatest reply 4 years ago1211 views

Hello everybody,

I am searching for a WYSIWYG software to draw, from complex to simple, block diagrams for documenting my personal projects. 

So far I am using CircuiTikz for LaTeX, has good results, but laborious to achieve them, in terms of time.

Known good options so far:

  1. - Microsoft Visio (paid, somewhat affordable)
  2. - Sigasi Studio XPRT (paid, not affordable)

Any  open source or paid (affordable) recommendations (Windows, Linux) would be very welcome. :)



[ - ]
Reply by jkvasanApril 16, 2020

Hi Rafael,

Its an interesting question. You could use the yEditor. Pls Google it. It is the best and free! software out there. I have used it extensively last 10 years and am very satisfied. Pls note it is updated continuously. Very spectacular block diagrams can be made with yEditor. 

[ - ]
Reply by beningjwApril 16, 2020

You can use tools like:

- draw.io

- Edraw

- Visual Paradigm

- Enterpise Architect

[ - ]
Reply by jalticeApril 16, 2020
[ - ]
Reply by Bob11April 16, 2020

Can't really tell from your question, and your option list, whether you're looking for block diagram software, circuit diagram software, or some integrated code/schematic editor?

On Linux the closest replacement to Visio is dia. Another option is inkscape. Both export to eps if you're using LaTeX for the rest of your documentation.

For just schematic diagrams there's diagramming tools like xcircuit up to full schematic/board layout tools like Kicad.

[ - ]
Reply by nnewellApril 16, 2020

Hi Rafael,

I've used various versions of Visio and it works quite well for basic block diagrams and flow diagrams. But yes it does cost a bit and since is was purchased by Microsoft it lost the simplicity that made it such a nice tool when I first started using.  Recently I've used 

If your block diagrams are relatively simple you can use the drawing features in Word, Excel or PowerPoint to reasonable effect. They're all a bit different and I use them for slightly different purposes. Don't use them for large diagrams but for basic state machines, block diagrams they're fine.

You can also try OpenOffice Draw, I found it recently and its actually pretty good at doing flow charts (comparable to Visio before Microsoft). I also use it to draw the layout plan for my garden.

The only time I'd consider using a CAD tool as mentioned is if the diagram is really big, and if its that big you're probably doing wrong.

Lastly if you want to do a diagram really fast the best method is to draw it using a pencil or a whiteboard and take a picture. Then import the diagram in Word, Excel or Powerpoint (or whatever you use) and overlay any arrows or call outs you want to annotate the picture. Works well and can actually look good. If you do pencil I recommend using graph paper with faint lines looks nice and if the lines are blue the they almost disappear.

And lastly I use program editors to make diagrams using ASCII characters, and this is actually my favourite method.


[ - ]
Reply by waydanApril 16, 2020
I’ve tried Modelio which is free and works with UML and SysML.

PlantUML is an interesting program from generating UML diagrams from a basic markup language. It even has a visual Studio Code plugin.

I also tried and liked Software Ideas Modeler. It has a nice GUI and I found it more intuitive than most UML tools. It’s not free, though a license doesn’t seem too expensive

[ - ]
Reply by MaxMaxfieldApril 16, 2020

I've been using Visio for longer than I care to remember (must be more than 20 years) and I love it!!!

[ - ]
Reply by jt_eatonApril 16, 2020

There really isn't a good open source cad tool designed for the work that system architects do. 

Anybody want to help create one?

[ - ]
Reply by s-lightApril 16, 2020

maybe umbrello -

its designed for uml - but maybe it is working for your usecase..
id did some uml dokumentation some time back for a projekt and it did work nicely..

other idea:
inkscape has a diagram connector type - it helps in that the line is automatically adjusted if you rearrange the nodes...
but in general a lot more work and more possibilities in design ;-)

[ - ]
Reply by fabateraApril 16, 2020

Depending on the task or the kind of drawing I needed, I'd used the same as others recommended:

- draw.io

- yEd

 and also one that was not recommended yet:


[ - ]
Reply by rnpApril 16, 2020

Thanks for all the replies and suggestions, I shall take a look at them. As some suggested, Visio is a great tool, I use it professionaly. For private use I tend to use opensource tools due to its flexibility and price. The money I can save on software, I can invest on hardware. :)


Memfault State of IoT Report