According to the manufacturer, SmartDraw is the most popular business graphics program in the world. It makes it easy to design “presentation-quality” graphics in “minutes, not hours.”
I decided to test it myself.
The installation window for SmartDraw 2008 told me that it would take 51 minutes to install. It’s a 3gb install so I assumed it would take some time on my old computer. So, I turned on the kettle. It was done in less than 10 minutes. This could be taken as a positive, but I felt the installation package did a poor job of managing my expectations.
The application will open and provide you with a wide range of templates. There are templates available for every business purpose, including:
Gantt and Pert charts (not sure why)
Flow charts (many options, including UML and data flow, for business analysts)
Network design (cool little photos of servers and firewalls).
Authority matrices to support stakeholder management
You can even create your family tree and plan how to hang your clothes. They also offer a legal and healthcare version, along with templates specific to each industry.
I decided to plan my garden. One of the pea plants that had sprouted has now died. It could have been slugs or a lack of water. I hope it is not too late to plant another seed.
It was easy to pick a template for landscape design. There were many examples, but none that was exactly right for my garden. I decided to start from scratch and made a blank sheet. It couldn’t be easier!
It wasn’t difficult at all. Drag and drop allowed me to quickly add decking, a table and fences to my garden. I colored them in. SmartDraw supports layers. I was unable to add colour to my borders because the colour blocked the plants below. To manage layers in PowerPoint, you can drag graphic to the front. I was hoping that SmartDraw would offer a similar function. It might, but I was too lazy and just added more detail to the top and deleted an underneath layer. Another thing that SmartDraw did not have was the ability for you to hold down Ctrl while moving the mouse to drag and dropped a copy. Instead, I had to copy and past an image and drag it to the correct place. Although it’s not difficult, I prefer my keyboard and mouse shortcuts to stay the same between applications.
As you can see, my garden picture turned out okay. It’s nothing like the one above, which was scaled with the building. If you were a professional landscaper and wanted to spend time sizing each item in order to create plans for a client, you could do that. It didn’t bother me at all to have perfect scale.
I also created a flow chart that demonstrates how to borrow a book from the library, return it, and pay a fine if necessary. SmartDraw can help you put in the connectors and align the steps on the page, making it much easier. The colours were then used to create a rainbow of process step. It took me just minutes to complete the entire thing. This assumes you know the process steps.
I tried to export my image to a Word document, but that caused an application error. The program crashed and I lost my changes. To export to.pdf format, you will need to install a filter called.pdf. After I had done that, I was able to save it as a PDF with just one click. However, the document looked very boring and would have been more useful if it had a title or footer. These were added in by me and I was happy that they were in a complementary font and colour.
Exporting to Excel and PowerPoint are available.