I’ll be honest, I was once a very reluctant adopter of the SaaS model. While friends were writing articles in Google Docs, I was still chugging away in Microsoft Word. But I’ve since repented of my cloud-skeptical ways, especially now that I’m using a PC at work and a Mac at home. Swapping out some programs has led me to reconsider others, and that includes the diagramming software big guns: OmniGraffle and Visio.

With all the cloud-based diagramming options out there, are these two applications still worth it? I decided to break down the advantages and disadvantages for each program. YMMV, so I’d love to hear what you think.

Is Visio worth it?

Visio used to be a necessary evil, but now it might be an unnecessary one. The standard version alone cost a hefty $300. The professional version, which you’ll need if you’re working on a team, comes in at $589 per license.

And cost isn’t the biggest concern. Visio has loads of shape choices, but it’s clunky. For software that’s been around almost 15 years, it shouldn’t still be a pain to connect a couple objects. Never mind that it doesn’t work on Mac; half the time, it doesn’t seem to work on PC either. Unless you’re an ultra-dedicated power diagrammer, or the world’s biggest Microsoft fan, Visio is probably not your best option.

Is OmniGraffle worth it?

OmniGraffle is more of a toss up. It’s software that lives up to its Mac moniker—sleek and well-designed. But the price tag is still pretty big: $100 for the standard version, and $200 for Pro, and the updates are infrequent. Plus, the current iPad app is an extra $50. Ouch!

If you’re a Mac-exclusive user, OmniGraffle might still be worth it. It’s certainly cheaper than Visio. But it also doesn’t have as many shape libraries. You can augment this by downloading additional stencil sets from sites like Graffletopia, usually for a fee.

Other diagramming options

When it comes to programs like the Adobe Creative Suite, there doesn’t seem to be much web-based competition. But that’s not the case with Visio and OmniGraffle. There are plenty of online apps that work just finein fact several of them are what I’d consider to be “full-featured.” I’ve checked out Cacoo and Coggle, and right now I’m using Lucidchart, which is a solid free solution.

Bottom line: Visio and OmniGraffle are expensive choices. Before you buy your next desktop diagramming license, shop around the web for freeware that could be just as useful.

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