UML (Unified Modeling Language) diagrams are visual representations of software systems. The diagrams are essential for software engineers who need to document software systems. There are various alternative types of UML diagrams, such as activity, class, object, component, and sequence diagrams.
Software engineers will need diagram software to set up UMLs. As such, there are numerous diagramming software with which users can lay out UML diagrams. The best UML diagramming tools support most of the UML diagram classes and are compatible with the UML 2.0 specification. These are some of the best Windows software for UML diagrams.
Best Tools for UML Diagramming
Edraw UML Diagram (recommended)
Edraw UML Diagram is the application of choice for many software engineers and designers. The software is fully compatible with 64 and 32-bit Windows platforms from Windows XP to Windows 10.
Edraw UML Diagram is currently retailing at $69.00. There isn’t a freeware Edraw UML version, but users can try out a one-month trial package.
The tool provides all the tools most users will need to set up UML diagrams. The software enables users to set up UML use case, activity, component, sequence, package, static structure, state chart, and collaboration diagrams among others. It includes UML templates with which users can quickly set up the diagrams.
Users can also select various color fill, line, and shadow customization options for inserted objects and add pictures to their diagrams. In addition, users can set up data flow model, SSDs, Booch OOD, ROOM, and Nassi-Shneiderman diagrams among others with Edraw.
UMLet is a straightforward design tool with which users can quickly set up UML diagrams. This is open-source software for all Windows platforms that you can download from the UMLet website. Note that Java 1.6 is a system requirement for UMLet, so users need to have Java installed before they can run the software.
The tool is more specifically designed for UML diagrams. What sets UMLet apart from some of the other alternatives is that users modify diagram elements with text inputs instead of the more standard pop-up dialogs. UMLet users can set up custom elements for diagrams.
The software supports various UML diagrams, such as use case, sequence, deployment, activity, and state diagrams. In addition, this application includes a handy Mail to… option with which users can email UML diagrams.
As one of the MS Office suite applications, Microsoft Visio is the industry standard diagramming software with which users can set up a wide range of diagrams, which include UML classes. Visio Standard 2019 and Visio Professional 2019 are two alternative versions that are currently retailing at $480 and $250.
There’s also a Visio Online Plan version that supports UML 2.5 diagram types. This probably isn’t the most economical UML diagramming application, but both Visio versions still pack in an expansive diagram toolkit that few other alternatives can match.
Visio supports the UML 2.0 specification and provides templates for six types of UML diagrams. Visio Professional users can set up class, sequence, database, activity, state and use case UML diagrams with the software. Vimio includes a plethora of formatting and design options, and users can add clip art, photos, CAD drawings, callouts, containers, hyperlinks, and additional charts to their diagrams.
The software enables users to generate UML diagrams from imported source code and integrate real-time data in them with data linking. Visio users can also set up numerous other diagram types, such as flowcharts, gantt, network, organizational charts, and more besides.
StarUML 3 packs in an abundance of tools for designing software models. Apple, IBM, Samsung, EA, Amazon, and Intel are some of the renowned companies that utilize StartUML 3 for software design. The application is compatible with Windows (XP to 10), MacOS, and Linux platforms. StartUML is currently available at $89 for non-commercial users and $129 for commercial users.
StartUML 3 is compatible with UML 2.0 metamodel diagrams. So its users can set up about 11 UML diagrams along with data flow, flowchart, and entity relationship diagrams (for database design). With the software’s Java and C++ extensions, StartUML 3 users can generate Java and C++ code from their UML diagrams and revere engineer code.
This software also includes some handy publishing options that enable users to share their models with HTML docs or export them to PDF for printing.
ConceptDraw Diagram 12
ConceptDraw Diagram is general purpose diagramming software that users can utilize for software modeling. This is among the best diagram software alternatives to Microsoft Visio. ConceptDraw Diagram is compatible with Windows 10, 8, and 7 and Mac platforms. The software is currently retailing at $199 on the publisher’s website.
ConceptDraw Diagram users can set up almost the full range of UML diagram types. The software includes a great range of drawing tools and item template galleries for diagrams. Or ConceptDraw 12 users can set up UML diagrams by selecting one of its ready-made templates. The software incorporates live object tech, which is similar to Visio’s real-time data linking.
This application also includes great sharing options as it enables users to send diagrams via email, display them as presentations, export to Adobe Flash or PDF formats, and save them as HTML for the web. Furthermore, ConceptDraw is fully compatible with Visio, which is a bonus for users who need to open Visio files.
So take your pick from those UML diagram applications. Visio and ConceptDraw are probably the best general purpose diagramming software of those selected.
However, StartUML, Edraw UML Diagram, and UMLet 14.3 might be better value alternatives for users who only need to set up UML diagrams.
Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in other diagram software, check out our wide collection of guides.
This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been since updated for freshness, and accuracy.