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SmartDraw 2007


Reviewed:

November 7th 2006
February 25th 2009






Introduction
About SmartDraw 2007
Download and Installation
Working with SmartDraw 2007
Pricing and Support
Conclusion


Introduction

It has been observed that presentations that contain graphical elements score higher than those that contain just text. By graphical elements here, I don't mean illustrations or pictures -- but diagram style graphics that show relationships and contain text as part of the graphic.

PowerPoint, by itself contains a very capable diagramming feature -- and the new SmartArt feature in PowerPoint 2007 is even more impressive. Even then, there are bound to be times when you want something that's easier to use, provides more options, and even works well with PowerPoint. That's exactly what SmartDraw 2007 aims to be.

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About SmartDraw 7

SmartDraw 2007 is from SmartDraw.com, a company based in San Diego, CA, United States. SmartDraw, their flagship product is available in four different versions: Standard, Professional, Professional Plus and the SmartDraw Suite. You can download a trial version of Smart Draw 2007 from their site...

If you are not a designer don't worry -- you'll find that SmartDraw 2007 has over a hundred professionally designed templates and a library of over 20,000 symbols and shapes. Once you use this assortment of content to create your own diagrams, these can be copied into other programs such as PowerPoint with one click.

My contact at SmartDraw.com for this review was Bob Schuh - thank you, Bob.

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Download and Installation

Download the installer from the link given above, Run the setup routine and follow the instructions. You'll end up with a SmartDraw 2007 program group in your Windows Start menu (see Figure 1 below).

Start Menu Group
Figure 1: SmartDraw 2007 Start menu Group

The application runs in a trial mode until you buy the product.

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Working with SmartDraw 2007

Follow these steps to use SmartDraw 2007 to create some great looking graphics:

  1. Go to your Windows Start menu and choose All Programs | SmartDraw 2007 | SmartDraw 2007 (see Figure 1 above).

  2. This opens SmartDraw's Create New Document window as shown in Figure 2.

    Interface
    Figure 2: Create New Document

    This window provides around 150 different drawing types. You can choose the drawing type from the categorized list on the left. If you want, you can even select a blank drawing template to start with an empty drawing area.

  3. For this tutorial, I have selected a Christmas Card from the Flyers category. Strictly speaking, this is not a diagram but I wanted to try something different compared to what I used in an older review of SmartDraw on this site.

    Click on the Smart Template, it may take a while as the template get downloaded from the SmartDraw site.

  4. Soon enough, you will see the SmartDraw 2007 interface (see Figure 3) with the Flyers panel opened, containing all the elements you need.

    PicShrink interface

    Figure 4: SmartDraw 2007 Interface

    Note: The drawing elements are based on the SmartTemplate you have selected. So if you chose something like an Organization Chart, the drawing elements visible will be completely different.


    The SmartDraw 2007 interface is explained below:

    1. Flyer tab (see Figure 5) -- lets you add text, symbol and picture.

      Remember, the tab you see here will be different depending upon the SmartTemplate you choose.

      Flyers tab
      Figure 5: Flyers Tab

    2. The Symbol pane which is at the left side of the interface displays hundreds of symbols. Choose and drag any of these to the drawing area as required. You can also search for symbols using keywords. The More symbols button opens a new dialog box as shown in Figure 6. Some symbols might not be available locally -- these will be automatically downloaded from the SmartDraw site when you use them.

      More symbols
      Figure 6: More Symbols

    3. Drawing Area allows you to place all the elements. At the top of the drawing area, you will find tools that enable you to select, add text and shapes, etc.

    4. The Document, Edit, and Arrange panels contain several frequently used commands.

    5. This set of tabs is so much like the ribbon interface in Office 2007 -- most options are distributed within the tabs in the ribbon.

    6. The SmartHelp area provides step-by-step tutorials, help, and assistance.

  5. Choose any SmartTemplate, make a design of your choice. Save your drawing, and then export to another program using the convenient options found in the Export tab of the ribbon that you can see in Figure 7. The PowerPoint Export function works remarkably well -- and you can even ungroup the drawing in PowerPoint and format it as a native PowerPoint object.

    Export
    Figure 7:
    Export

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Pricing and Support

SmartDraw 2007 costs $297 for a single-user license.

Support options include manuals, knowledge base, e-mail, phone support, and FAQ. The SmartDraw.com web site also has extensive tutorial content.

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Conclusion

For what it does, SmartDraw 2007 is a very capable product. Not only does it allow you to work with an amazing number of templates and prebuilt visual content, it also allows you to export the created drawings to the program you use with one click.

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