Draw.io is a free graph drawing software created in 2000. Its interface can be used to create diagrams such as flowcharts, wireframes, UML diagrams, organizational charts, and network diagrams. It was the go-to tool for system engineering because of its perfect timing.
But now, with everything we can do with one tool, it’s not a tool I can safely use for my cloud architecture diagram, documentation, and any other maintainability actions I will assess.
So, I wandered into the Cloud Computing industry’s best tooling for cloud diagramming. The sole purpose: see clearly what tool differentiated itself from the pack, regardless of each marketing’s message.
Here are 8 free alternatives to Draw.io I tried for the past 9 months:
Brainboard for Multi-Cloud Architectures
Brainboard is the only draw.io alternative that allows to design of cloud architectures that actually translates to real use cases. Each cloud resource you drag & drop is an actionable cloud resource (of major providers proposed AWS, Azure, GCP, and Scaleway) that translates itself into a terraform code. This terraform code is built according to best practices and used to terraform deploy your infrastructure from the same solution.
Positive: Until now, it’s the only solution that allows us to visually design, deploy and manage cloud infrastructures in a collaborative way.
Price: Brainboard’s free version includes unlimited design and auto-generation of code. The paid version includes deployments and management. A 21-day trial is available.
Lucidscale — part of Lucidchart
Lucidscale, part of the parent company Lucidchart, is a great cloud visualization solution that helps organizations see and understand their cloud environment.
Negative: Lucidscale is limited to importing and designing cloud architectures and environments. No further actions are enabled and allowed yet.
Price: Lucidscale starts with a 14-day free trial then yearly licenses are available.
IcePanel is a great IDE for cloud architectures and design systems.
Negative: IcePanel is not the perfect design tool for cloud architectures per se. Many custom components are not present as well as basic editing toolings. Also, it is limited to documenting, not deployments.
Price: IcePanel is free to design but limited in terms of capabilities of versioning, support, and security. Paid plans are available to support more functionalities.
Terrastruct defends itself to be the general-purpose diagramming tool that handles complexity and is specialized for software engineering.
Negative: Text-to-diagram inability with very limited cloud implementations.
Price: There is no free version. Advanced features include security, management and insights.
Fugue by Snyk
Fugue is part of Snyk. Fugue is a great interactive tool that allows users to export maps and understand resource relationships, show compliance violations, and reveal misconfiguration risks.
Positive: Fugue is a great tool for identifying security issues. I also liked the grouping aspect but disliked the zooming aspect of each group spec.
Negative: Fugue is not a diagram editing tool.
Price: Fugue’s plans are various and private to work email input.
Cloudmaker is Azure’s latest ground. It allows Azure users to design, deploy and manage Azure cloud architectures.
Negative: Cloudmaker is limited to Azure.
Price: Free version exists but multiple plans include CICD deployment, AI helper, code export, security, and various support possibilities.
Cloudcraft by AWS
Cloudcraft is AWS’s latest ground. It allows AWS users to design, deploy and manage AWS cloud architectures. Something cool but not relevant is that the diagram is in 3D and exportable anywhere.
Negative: Cloudcraft is limited to AWS.
Price: Cloudcraft is free to design, export, document, and estimate cost. The paid plan includes collaboration, multi-credentials, and user and support capabilities.
Cloudokit integration with Microsoft Visio
Cloudokit is perfect for documentation and analyzing cloud diagrams. It integrates well with Microsoft Visio. But shapes stay shapes.
Negative: Clouddokit is limited to the cloud diagram and documentation.
Price: No free versions. Paid plans scale according to users and yearly choices.
To end this debate:
You have tools that answer most problems. The most important is to choose a tool that:
- Solves the right problem in your organization
- Integrates well into your tech stack
- Fast enough and scalable as you grow
To answer this question frankly:
Brainboard for Multi-Cloud Architectures
Brainboard is the best solution to visualize your cloud infrastructure, deploy your Terraform and manage any projects, environments, and architectures. I’ve tested the new Import from Azure capabilities and it went smoothly.
💣 *Spoiler Alert! * We are working on some sort of next-gen CICD engine.