Looking at dia

Dia is an open source desktop application for creating diagrams. Sort of like Visio. But not. More below.


Like most administrator/architects I’ve struggled with creating and modifying Visio diagrams of the systems that form my world, and have the scars to prove it. There are basically three things I don’t like about Visio: it’s slow, it’s complex and it’s really expensive — both in terms of licensing and system resources (memory and disk).

I don’t like it.

Anyway, like a lot of other people I’ve been on the lookout for an alternative for a long time. I looked at dia years ago but rejected it because I didn’t see any way to import its output into Visio for exporting into Visio’s .vsd file format (which would be required in order to interoperate with my peers and managers).

Then today I stumbled on the fact that dia can export (and import) diagrams in AutoCAD .dxf format, a capability that it shares with Visio. That means that I can theoretically create simpler diagrams in dia, export to .dxf and then import into Visio for publication. Going the other way (from Visio to dia), would of course be almost impossible because of all the proprietary graphics Microsoft uses in its product.

So I’m back to looking at dia again to see if it can help me get past the diagramming logjams in my life and back to work on the stuff that really counts.