One of the great features in Microsoft 365 is the ability to get Add-ins. In this article, I cover one of my favorite types– Flowcharts.
At this time, Word gives you three choices: Lucidchart, Draw.io Diagrams, and Visual Paradigm Online. Each of the programs is explained below:
- Works perfectly with Word when creating and inserting flowcharts.
- Easy to learn with the controls you would expect of professional flowcharting software.
- Inserting symbols, lines, and colors are very intuitive.
- Easy to use templates.
Word integration is the best of the three. On startup, it shows five screens with tips for each feature.
Cons: The free version is limited and only offers three existing diagrams in Word.
This is the name as shown as the add-in but they have recently changed their name to Diagrams.net
- If you share your diagram, you know anyone can open it
- Migrate drawings from Lucidchart to the Draw.io format
- Works with GoogleDrive or OneDrive and on your PC
- Diagrams can be exported as vector or raster images
Cons: Clumsy to work with when it comes to inserting into Word and I noticed several glitches when trying to save to other than the “root” drive in the cloud.
- Without a doubt, visual Paradigm Online offers the largest array of templates and features that can produce the most professional charts
- Save, insert, and export easily
- With power, comes a greater learning curve
- All the possibilities cannot be learned in a day
- Only drawings saved on the Paradigm server are available to insert into Word or PowerPoint
The features in the free version are still impressive. Paradigm’s features site will show you what is missing in the free version. You can also use the Tutorials page to help understand the program better.
Accessing The Add-ins
To access these Add-ins, you need to select Insert in the top menu of the Word ribbon. Then click on Get Add-ins. In the image below, you can see that the three Add-ins are now part of Word’s ribbon.
A list of available add-ins will be displayed. Use Search and enter Flowchart, then press Enter. You will see your three choices. Select the one that fits your needs and start flowcharting with the best.
If Lucidchart did not have the three-file restriction, I would look no further. It really does have what most people would need and the way it seamlessly works with Word makes it hard not to pick.
If free is what it’s all about, then obviously Draw.io has a lot going for it. While it might not be as easy to grasp at the start, its learning curve is still pretty easy. The two digs I have are the problems saving to other than the root drive, and the second is the insertion into Word is much harder than it has to be. Inserting often left several diagram components behind. Perhaps it is something I am doing wrong but I did not experience this problem with the other two programs.
Visual Paradigm’s true power is the ability to work in collaboration. I like the tools, and the incredible number of possibilities this program offers.