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ShapeChef: The Indezine Review

ShapeChef is a PowerPoint add-in which enables you to collect and organize your shapes and other assets, and share them online.


Reviewed:







Introduction
Using ShapeChef
Pricing and Support
Conclusion


Introduction

ShapeChef is a PowerPoint add-in that enables you to collect and organize PowerPoint assets (shapes, pictures, tables, charts, etc). For example, you can arrange your favorite graphics into separate categories and sub-categories. You can also use the instant search feature within ShapeChef to find shapes quickly. Additionally, ShapeChef allows to store assets online "in the cloud", which can be thereafter accessed from any computer. Also, you can invite multiple users to join your libraries, and control their permission options. Also, ShapeChef gives you access to several ready-to-use collections of icons and symbols.

ShapeChef is from Wulfsoft, a company based in Germany. You can learn more about the ShapeChef from their site. My contact at ShapeChef for this review was Andreas Wulf -- thank you, Andreas.

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Using ShapeChef

Download the installer from the link given above, and run the setup routine. It is recommended that you create a account within the ShapeChef site so that you can create your custom library and add shapes to share it with multiple users.

Even if you do not download and install ShapeChef, you can follow this walkthrough to understand this product better:

  1. Launch PowerPoint -- within the PowerPoint interface, you'll find the new ShapeChef tab on the Ribbon (highlighted in red within Figure 1) and the ShapeChef Shapes Task Pane (highlighted in blue within Figure 1).

    ShapeChef tab and ShapeChef Shapes Task Pane within PowerPoint 2013 interface
    Figure 1: ShapeChef tab and ShapeChef Shapes Task Pane within PowerPoint 2013 interface

  2. Access the ShapeChef tab to see options available, as shown in Figure 2.

    ShapeChef tab of the Ribbon
    Figure 2: ShapeChef tab of the Ribbon

    All the options within the ShapeChef tab are explained below, as marked in Figure 2, above:

    1. Show Shapes Panel: This is a toggle button to show/hide the ShapeChef Shapes Task Pane, shown highlighted in blue within Figure 1, earlier on this page.

    2. Add Online Shape Library: This opens the Add Online Shape Library dialog box, as shown in Figure 3.

      Add Online Shape Library dialog box before you sign in
      Figure 3: Add Online Shape Library dialog box before you sign in

      As you can see, you need to be first signed in to your ShapeChef account to add any Shape Library. That can be easily done if you choose the Create new shape library radio button, highlighted in red within Figure 3, above. Choosing this option will take you to the ShapeChef site where you will be able to create your own account. Once you have created your own account, you can sign in using your credentials, that you will input within the Add existing shape library radio button, highlighted in blue within Figure 3, above. Then press the Log in button, highlighted in green within Figure 3.

      Once you have logged in, you will see the dialog box that you see in Figure 4, below. The next time you click the Add Online Shape Library option within the ShapeChef tab of the Ribbon, you will only see the dialog box shown in Figure 4 hereafter.

      Add Online Shape Library dialog box after you sign in
      Figure 4: Add Online Shape Library dialog box after you sign in

      So why do we see the No shape libraries available option within Figure 4, above? That's because we have not created any libraries within our ShapeChef account yet. To create a library, you choose the Create new shape library radio button. This gets you different options within Add Online Shape Library dialog box, as shown within Figure 5.

      Create new shape library option within the Add Online Shape Library dialog box
      Figure 5: Create new shape library option within the Add Online Shape Library dialog box

      This enables you to create a new shape library that is stored on ShapeChef's servers as part of your account.

      This library can be accessed from all of the computers and you can invite multiple people to join the library -- if you make any changes to the assets within the library, they will be automatically synchronized for all users. Note that the shape library account is free for 30 days - after the trial period ends, you need to upgrade to a paid subscription.

    3. Add Shape: This button allows you to add a selected asset (shape, picture, chart, table, etc.) to the selected library. The selected library is the active tab within the ShapeChef Shapes Task Pane -- in Figure 6, below -- you can see that we have our own library, Indezine Shapes selected as the active tab.

      In Figure 6, you can see that we have already created a library named Indezine Shapes containing six shapes. We'll now add another shape to this library. Can you see the heart shape on the slide? Select this shape and click the Add Shape button within the ShapeChef tab of the Ribbon.

      Shape selected for adding within the library
      Figure 6: Shape selected for adding within the library

      Alternatively, right-click the shape and from the contextual menu, choose the Add Shape to ShapeChef option, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 7.

      Add Shape to ShapeChef option
      Figure 7: Add Shape to ShapeChef option

      Note: Do note that this option is available within the contextual menu for everything you can select in PowerPoint including tables and charts. You can thus create a separate library of charts for all your users!


      This adds the shape to the library, as shown in Figure 8. Provide a name to the newly added shape.

      Selected shape added to library
      Figure 8: Selected shape added to library

    4. Import Shapes: This option allows you to import previously exported assets in the .scshapes file format within the ShapeChef Shapes Task Pane. This is a proprietary format for ShapeChef. You can export any category within your library by right-clicking it, and choosing the Export Category option, as shown in Figure 9, below.

      Exporting Shapes
      Figure 9:
      Exporting Shapes

    5. My Account: This brings up the My Account dialog box, as shown in Figure 10. Here you can log in to your account. You also get an option to create a new account and a hyperlink to manage an existing account online. However there is no Sign Out option.

      My Account dialog box
      Figure 10: My Account dialog box

    6. Check for Updates: This button open the ShapeChef web site and checks for any new update.

    7. About: Opens the About ShapeChef dialog box with information related to the add-in.

  3. Now access the ShapeChef Shapes Task Pane -- you can find more options within the Task Pane, as shown in Figure 11.

    ShapeChef Shapes Task Pane
    Figure 11: ShapeChef Shapes Task Pane

    All the options within the ShapeChef Shapes Task Pane are explained below, as marked within Figure 11, above.

    1. Search Box: Type in keyword(s) within the search box to get shapes you require. Note that when you add new shapes, do provide a name so that it can be easily searched. You can also add searchable tags to each asset -- to do so right click on an asset and choose the Shape Settings option within the resultant menu as shown in Figure 12, below.

      Access Shape Settings
      Figure 12:
      Access Shape Settings

      Then add tags or edit any other info within this dialog box, as shown in Figure 13, below.

      Add tags and other info
      Figure 13: Add tags and other info

    2. My Shapes: This tab within the ShapeChef Shapes Task Pane has two sub-categrories:

      Custom Shapes: Shapes you select and add from the slide end up here.
      Example Shapes: Provides five sample shapes to start with.

      To add any of these shapes on you slide, select the shape and drag and drop it on the slide, or just double-click it to add on the active slide.

    3. Custom Libraries: This tab shows the name you provide. For example, you can see that we named our custom library Indezine Shapes. This tab shows categories, sub-categories added by you on ShapeChef server, as shown in Figure 12.

      Tab showing shapes added by you on ShapeChef server
      Figure 12: Tab showing shapes added by you on ShapeChef server

      You can use this custom library option free for 30 days within trial mode - you need to upgrade it by a paid subscription plan (see Figure 13).

      Plans and pricing for a ShapeChef account
      Figure 13: Plans and pricing for a ShapeChef account

    4. Download More Shapes: This opens the Download Shapes dialog box, as shown in Figure 14. Here you can access the collections of icons and symbols that you can download, either for free or for a small price.

      Download Shapes dialog box
      Figure 14: Download Shapes dialog box

      The downloaded shapes can be found within the My Shapes tab of ShapeChef Shapes Task Pane.

  4. Based on this walkthrough, you can add shapes to your slide, or create your own library.

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Pricing and Support

ShapeChef costs $39.99, and multiple user license are available.

Support is through e-mail and FAQ.

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Conclusion

ShapeChef fulfills a huge requirement for serious PowerPoint users, and all the time while reviewing, we wondered why these options were not available within PowerPoint! That thought probably shows how important ShapeChef can become in your slide design workflows. And the price:performance ratio is just perfect too.

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