Maybe you’re like me: a logical thinker, detail-oriented, likes processes, but lousy with a pencil and yet compulsive enough to want to draw nice diagrams.  Or maybe you’re looking for a nice flowcharting tool, a free Visio-alike.

Here is the software you’re looking for: Dia, from Alexander Larssen and Hans Breuer.  Yes, as you can tell from the names and the .DE extension of the download site, this is a German project.  The software is in English, and you can type anything you want in the text boxes.

Download, install (I turned off Translations, and saved myself 26 meg), and open it up.  You have a group of shapes on the left-hand side (and dozens more here) that you can place on your blank canvas.

So here’s my nifty flow chart, ready for serious testing in the real world.

The mag tape is for backup, of course.  And the flowchart symbols automatically let you type in a description.  This software is smart: it lets you change things after you get them down.  Like the long arrow coming down from the “No” side of the decision box?  I don’t like it having an arrow on the end – the arrow shouldn’t appear until it gets to the “Finished” endpoint.  So let’s change it.

First, select the object (the arrow)

Then right-click it to get the properties

and change the end arrow style

(I ran out of space before I ran out of arrows)  Pick the one you like, apply it, and voila:

Obviously my line-connecting skills need improvement.  So does my imagination.  If you don’t like the flowchart symbols, they have a bunch of other shapes, including “jigsaw”.

Wow – I’m not even sure how to use that yet, but I like the concept!

Have fun diagramming.  There are Linux versions available here, if that’s your preference.

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