5 Easy Steps to Create a Flowchart Using Dia

by Ramesh Natarajan on November 16, 2009

Linux Dia Program LogoDia is a GTK+ based multi-platform diagram creation program. Dia is similar to the Visio program for Windows.

If you don’t have dia, download it from here.

In this article, let us review how to create a simple flow chart using Dia.

Step 1. Select Flow Chart in the diagram tools window

Select the flow chart in diagram tools window as shown below.

GNOME Dia for Linux - Select Flowchart Menu
Fig. Select Flow Chart Menu Item from Dia for Linux

This will show the flow charting tools in the window.

  1. Process/Auxillary Operation
  2. Input/Output
  3. Decision
  4. Connector
  5. Display
  6. Transaction file
  7. Off Page Connector
  8. Document
  9. Manual Operation
  10. Preparation
  11. Manual Input
  12. Predefined Process
  13. and so on..

Dia Flowchart Panel Selected - Dia Diagram Examples
Fig: Flow Chart Panel Selected in the Dia for UNIX

Step 2. Select and draw using tools

Select the flow chart tool and start drawing. In the following example, I started with the ‘Start’ flow-chart component.

Create a Flow Chart Connector in *.dia Program
Fig: “Start” Flow Chart Component in the Dia Program

In the following example, I quickly drew 5 flow chart components — Start, Get Input, Process, Display Output, and Stop. At this stage, these flow chart components are not aligned properly.

Dia Network Diagram with All Components - Unaligned
Fig: All Flow Chart Components in Dia UnAligned

Step 3. Align and Spread out the components

At this stage the flowchart may not look neat, as the components are neither aligned nor spread-out properly.

Before aligning and spreading-out the components, select all the flow-chart components on the screen using the mouse as shown below.

Dia Select Components for All Formats - EPS, SVG, XFIG, WMF and PNG
Fig: Select all Dia Flow Chart Components Using Mouse

Align all the components to center

Click on Object Menu -> Align -> Center to center all the selected components. You can also use Shift+Alt+C short-cut key to align the objects.

Spread Out all the components to center

When you draw the flow chart, each component will have a different distance from the other component. To make all the spaces equivalent use the spread out option.

Click on Object Menu -> Align -> Spread Out Vertically. You can also use Shift+Alt+V short-cut key to spread out all the selected components vertically.

Dia Diagram Aligned Properly - Dia for GNU/Linux, Unix and Windows
Fig: Dia Flow Chart after Spread Out Vertically

Step 4. Connect Flow Chart Components Using Arrows

Select the arrow from general tools window, and then connect the components one by one. You can also change the arrow type, and the thickness in the tools window.

Dia Diagram with Arrows, Boxes, Lines, Layers and Shapes
Fig: Dia Flow Chart with the Arrows

Step 5. Export the Flow Chart as an Image

Finally you can export the flow chart to an image file using the export option.

Click on File Menu -> Export -> Select the file type as png, or as what ever you wanted -> Click export after specifying the file name.

Final Flow Chart Diagram. Dia for Debian, Ubuntu and Fedora
Fig: Final Flow Chart Image Export from Dia


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ged November 16, 2009 at 3:00 am

Thanks. Good article to start with Dia. And what about its embedding to OpenOffice, for example. Is it possible any way?

2 Jimmy Ilenloa November 16, 2009 at 8:15 am

I am really happy with this program. Thanks to everyone.

3 Berry November 17, 2009 at 6:35 am

It is very helpful.

4 Selva November 18, 2009 at 3:16 am

For embedding flowchart in to OpenOffice , we can convert dia format to some other format using dia command itself.

For Ex : convert from dia format to png format
dia test.dia -t png -e test.png

5 Rich Liu December 3, 2009 at 10:31 am

Ramesh, I recently came across Gliffy http://www.gliffy.com/ Looks really good simple tool if you don’t have diagram anything complex.

6 Ramesh Natarajan December 10, 2009 at 6:00 pm

@Ged,

You can do “File -> Export”, export it to an image file and insert it to the OpenOffice. (or) Use the command line dia option to covert it to the image file as explained above by Selva.

@Jimmy, @Berry,

Thanks for your comments. I’m very glad you found this article helpful.

@Selva,

Thanks for explaining us how to convert the dia file to other image formats from the command line using -t option.

@Rich,

Gliffy looks pretty sleek. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

7 Learn Hacking February 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm

good stuff. I want to draw use case diagram using dia. Help me how to do it?

8 Jim April 28, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Hi and thanks for this info, as per “Learn Hacking”, I would like you to do all my work for me too, I don’t want to follow those simple steps above or try some of the other menus in Dia, why bother when I can just ask you to do it for me and for free. Awaiting your info and thanks for doing all the hard work for me so I can profit and be super rich and vacation all year round!

9 Allen Pitts February 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Hello,

‘Select the arrow from general tools window’
Where is the general tools window?

Thanks.

Allen in Dallas

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