If you have Visio documents, you need LibreOffice

One interesting advantage LibreOffice has over Microsoft Office is that it works with some Microsoft products and formats that Office does not. One of those products is Visio.

LibreOffice Draw can open standard Visio documents, which are in VSD and VSDX formats. These formats cannot be opened by Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, even though Visio is considered to be an Office application.

There are several other vector-drawing applications that can directly open and edit Visio documents. These include Inkscape and CorelDraw.

Visio is a vector application, but it is different than Adobe Illustrator and those just mentioned. Visio’s purpose is mainly to create diagrams, flowcharts, and similar types of drawings. The other applications are for graphic artists. While they have shapes and flowchart symbols, they also have free-drawing tools that are not present in Visio.

The Microsoft application that is used to create flowcharts, network diagrams, org charts, floor plans, and engineering designs, has the ability to run macros that Draw and the other vector-applications cannot run. Draw, however, can keep most of the other elements from a Visio document, including glued connectors.

Draw, however, cannot save the document in VSD or VSDX, like LibreOffice can with other Microsoft formats. When a Visio document is saved in Draw, the format choices are as follows:

  • ODF Drawing (ODG)
  • ODF Drawing Format (OTG)
  • Flat XML ODF Drawing Format (FODG)

The open-source vector application can only save in these formats. They can only be opened by LibreOffice, OpenOffice, or NeoOffice. Most other vector applications cannot open these formats. For LibreOffice to convert documents to a format that most vector applications can open, such as SVG, they need to be exported.


LibreOffice Draw’s ability to open and edit Visio documents serves several purposes. It is good for preserving Visio documents. Elements from a Visio diagram can be copy and pasted into a report open in a word processor. Draw’s free-drawing tools can be used to enhance a diagram or flowchart.

An organization or individual may no longer have a copy of Visio. There may have changed diagramming applications. They may have stopped producing drawings themselves. Yet they still may have a need to keep old Visio documents readable well into the future. Draw can be used to open, edit, and convert those documents to open formats that are more accessible.

Sometimes it’s important to include a diagram (or part of one) in a report. Screenshots can be taken, but the resulting image may not be as clear as the vector-based elements created in Visio. Draw has the tools to combine various elements of a diagram, so it can easily be copy and pasted into a Writer or Word document.

Draw gives users the ability to create flowcharts and diagrams, but it also is designed with graphic artists in mind, as well. Visio was not designed for artists. A Visio diagram or flowchart can be enhanced by a graphic artist in Draw.

The ability of LibreOffice to open and edit Visio formats is useful. While most people may not choose to replace Office with it for this reason, this gives people more of a reason to include it in their toolbox of applications.