Smart to draw positive conclusions about SmartDraw
SmartDraw 2010 is one of those programs that is easy to love, even if you can't
exactly say why. I can say why, however: when it comes to creating flow charts or
organizational charts or calendars or similar items, freehand, I'm worse than
being "all thumbs" I'm hopeless.
Enter the computer and, specifically, enter SmartDraw. Load this program up on your
Windows PC and you're ready to do all the charting you'd want to, and then some.
Even with a hefty $297 list price (though you can save $100 by ordering before Oct.
1 at www.smartdraw.com), the program likely will pay for itself quickly if you need
to communicate information visually and find yourself as hamstrung as I get. Just
the array of templates alone seems well worth the cost: there's just about every
kind of chart the aforementioned calendar, flow chart and org charts, for
starters and diagrams including floor plans, a "goals grid," a crime scene
planner, complete with body outlines, and still more.
As I waited for my call to join the cast of CBS' "CSI: Miami," I sketched in
four walls, an opening, and the requisite (for television) body outline. Then I
added two bloody footprints, a purse, a fingerprint and a blood drop, for good
measure. Stardom will only be a few moments away; David Caruso and I will become
Returning to reality, the placement of objects in a diagram, the making of
connections, the drawing of layouts all the time-consuming stuff of
pencil-and-paper production, is a simple point and click move with SmartDraw 2010.
The vast array of chart types can inspire all sorts of creativity. I particularly
like the program's integration with an online "live" mapping feature: when
connected to the Internet, you can enter an address and you can get a road map,
satellite map, or a combination of the two. The map can then be imported into
SmartDraw for manipulation and use. Yes, that'll guide folks to your next book
club, but it's also useful for businesses trying to direct people to their
offices, a realtor hyping a home listng, and so on.
If there aren't enough Venn diagrams or SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses,
Opportunities, Threats) charts in your life, SmartDraw is certainly the place to
find these and tons more.
Those who create (and those who endure) PowerPoint presentations likely will applaud
SmartDraw 2010's two ways of integrating with the popular Microsoft Office
application. One is a one-click transfer of a SmartDraw chart to PowerPoint, making
it easy to convey information graphically during a slide show. The other is a
"storyboard" feature which lets you create a series of PowerPoint slides, add
elements, rearrange the order, go over the whole thing again and again and then
ship it off to PowerPoint as a presentation. Very cool, in my opinion.
I also like the many features for creating timelines, something handy for a visual
representation of a series of events, but also critical to companies planning a
project. For writer types, a timeline tool can illustrate a report or book; for
companies, it's a great feature to have.
Just about any chart SmartDraw creates can be augmented with photos, making
organizational charts, for example, a bit more personal and user-friendly, or
perhaps making timelines more ominous. It is a nice addition to have SmartDraw
include a photo browser, though, since adding graphic elements helps viewers
understand complex charts more easily.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this, for me, is that all this happens under
Microsoft Windows. I've tested SmartDraw 2010 with the 64-bit version of Microsoft
Windows 7, and it's worked without a hitch. Therefore, I'm guessing it'll
support Vista and certainly Windows XP users handily.
If charts are your thing and in Washington, they seem to be just about
everyone's thing I'll repeat what I've said a couple of years back:
SmartDraw is a must-have, in my opinion.
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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.