Thoughts on diagramming applications (OmniGrafle vs Diagrams)?

I would appreciate any suggestions regarding software for diagramming - flowcharts, admin charts, etc.

It seems to me that OmniGrafle is the “500 lb gorilla” in this arena, but frankly my needs are fairly simply, I don’t expect to use it very often, and therefore the high cost (up to $250 to buy the Mac “Pro” version or 12.49/month for a subscription to both the Mac and iOS versions) is more than I feel I want to pay for my limited use case, and OmniGrafle might be too complex an app for the simple use I have in mind.

Diagrams is available on SetApp and so the price of admission makes it a good choice as I am already a subscriber, so I would be interested in whether anyone has used it and has any feedback. Obviously as a SetApp app, there is no barrier to my just trying it out.

What other choices in this area should be be checking into?


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For fairly simple needs, just use the built-in drawing and shape tools of PowerPoint or Keynote. As an added bonus, these diagrams can be maintained and updated by basically anyone.


I have the current version of OmniGraffle (ever since v1) but will not purchase the next upgrade. It is a fantastic app but I no longer need the power of OG.

As a SetApp subscriber, I do use Diagrams. It is vey basic but gets the job done for most things I need. The things I wish it had are: text boxes, more color choices for boxes, ability to not have borders on boxes, curved connectors.

I agree with @airwhale re: Keynote and PowerPoint as alternatives.

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I use Omnigraffle standard as I have never really needed the pro features. I first bought it a while ago (version 3 I think) and have updated every other version. I have also used Diagrams , and to be honest it is very very simple and basic. I agree with @airwhale if you don’t need the massive power of Omnigraffle then keynote or powerpoint might be enough. Omni group software is very expensive in my opinion, but if you use them a lot (and need the feature set) then they maybe right for you, and if you only use then occasionally the monthly sub might work for you.

You might also want to look at Lucidchart. It is online and has a free version which might be enough, if not they have monthly paid versions. There are quite a lot of cheap or free online apps including Cacoo and However there are many others

If it is an iPad version you need there are quite a few on the app store, I have used Grafio, Lekh Diagram and Flowdia.The last two have free versions.

It is one of those software categories where there is a lot of choice.


I’d recommend anyone start with Keynote or PP if they don’t know if they need more power.

For web-based sync, Whimsical is my favorite and I’ve found that regular users get used to it faster than LucidChart, which is the leader in that area.

OmniGraffle will definitely pay for itself if you use this kind of tool for your work regularly, though, especially once you have the right stencil/shape kits at hand.

Another +1 on only purchase OG “if” need all those powerful features. Very expensive app. Diagram is good enough for average users.

Something different: diagram generators are also interesting:

  • Automation potential
  • Educational (learn new formats)
  • Fast
    Examples include Kroki or

If you prefer writing rather than drawing, have a look at mermaid. Mermaid is supported in Typora and other markdown editors, or you can try it out at the link below.

5 Likes is free and does the job for my need for occasional flowcharts.

It’s web based or a downloadable app, but the web app is excellent. I find it much easier than the diagram features in MS Office apps.

Definitely one to try given the price of some others.

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Hi @JohnAtl!

Remind me how Markdown processors convert Mermaid diagrams to eg PNG. (Today md2pptx can convert SVG to PNG on the fly and I might want to teach it to do the same with Mermaid.)

Also features nice integration with Google Workspaces.

I’ve never done that :slight_smile:
It looks like the live editor will export a png file.
I also found a filter for pandoc that (I think) would let you convert it from the command line.

+1 for

It is also available as a (free) download app if you want to run it locally.


+1 for simple diagramming in Keynote or PowerPoint – and also Pages.

Chiming in just to throw Scapple into the mix :upside_down_face:


I want to give a plug for Zengobi Curio - Note Taking, Mind Mapping, Brainstorming. Doesn’t meet the requirement of cheap or free, but for me, it does the job. I like that it’s an infinite canvas and I can start out with a small idea and then let it grow and grow.


For coders Mermaid is the best since you can diff it. For everyone else I would use the cheapest and easiest tool that fits your flow.
For most that is a pencil and paper.

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I‘m using scapple from literature and latte and of course Keynote. Both serving all my needs.


So the method I used for SVG → PNG in md2pptx was to use a Python library. (CairoSVG if I remember correctly). It would be nice if there were a similar library for Mermaid. (In my code I test for the optional CairoSVG so I don’t force unwilling/disinterested users to install it.)

Thanks to everyone for all of the suggestions!

I think I am going to give Diagrams a try given that it is free (since I have a SetApp account) and I tried the online version of and it is certainly quite nice and does everything that I will need at this point. The one downside is that it is an Electron app, and it seems there are a lot of strong anti-Electron feelings around, although I have not read enough to understand why.

I’d try open source - I was shocked how good it is, even has templates and I believe you can export drawings.