PowerPoint and SmartDraw
Learn about PowerPoint and SmartDraw.
Author: Geetesh Bajaj
In any presentation, visuals play an important role. Well designed visuals can make information easy-to-grasp and understand. On this page, we'll look at how SmartDraw, a drawing application works with PowerPoint to help create quick and effective infographics for presentations.
Here are some examples of SmartDraw content used within PowerPoint:
Above visuals are from SmartDraw.com
SmartDraw is developed by 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'll find more info about SmartDraw products at their website....
My contact at SmartDraw for this review was Jason Hardy - I wish to thank him for responding to my every question.
PowerPoint already has several drawing features built-in. Many users would want to ask why should they look at SmartDraw rather than use PowerPoint's own drawing features. Here's what Jason has to say:
- SmartDraw offers over 50,000 symbols and templates for creating
business charts and diagrams.
- SmartDraw had an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that lets
you design professional diagrams with no artistic skills. SmartDraw
automatically aligns and arranges everything.
- SmartDraw is fully
compatible with PowerPoint and the rest of Microsoft Office.
You can simply copy-paste your drawings into a slideshow, or
embed documents into SmartDraw files.
- SmartDraw Suite allows you to insert your digital photos into
- SmartDraw is available for a free 30 day trial download, and you will always have access to free technical support - even if you use the trial version.
As you can see, SmartDraw is being positioned as an easy drawing tool to supplement PowerPoint and other Microsoft Office applications.
The SmartDraw interface looks very similar to the PowerPoint or Word interface. If you choose to create a new drawing, you are prompted to select the drawing type (see screenshot). You can also view examples and opt to create a drawing based on the example (or template).
SmartDraw is easy to work with and you can probably be productive within 15 minutes of using it for the first time. That's because you really don't need to do much - an impressive library of readymade shapes and drawings allows you to drag shapes from the library onto the document area.
With the SmartDraw Image Plug-In, which is included with SmartDraw Suite, you can even fill shapes with images - you could probably create an organization chart of people working in the office that included a picture of every person (see screenshot).
Whenever you are working with SmartDraw, the program will offer helpful tips and ideas. This feature can be turned off if you don't require it anymore.
SmartDraw's power lies in its connectors - these connectors can snap and link to shapes - this means that if you move a shape, connecters move with it.
SmartDraw has won the SIA's People's Choice award twice, most recently in 2003.
The easiest way to use SmartDraw content in PowerPoint is thrrough cut and paste:
- In SmartDraw, choose Edit | Select All (Ctrl + A).
Then, choose Edit | Copy (Ctrl + C)
- In PowerPoint, create a new slide or choose an existing slide where you want to place the SmartDraw drawing. Choose Edit | Paste (Ctrl + V).
When you paste a SmartDraw drawing within PowerPoint, you actually embed a copy of the drawing within your presentation. PowerPoint can remember that the drawing originated from SmartDraw - you can also edit and update the drawing using SmartDraw.
To edit a SmartDraw drawing in PowerPoint (or any Microsoft Office program):
- Double-click on the SmartDraw drawing, or
Select the drawing, choose Edit | SmartDraw Object | Edit.
- Make any changes as required within SmartDraw. When you are done, choose File | Close and Return to <filename.ppt>...
You'll find more info on using SmartDraw with Microsoft Office applications including PowerPoint on the SmartDraw site...
You might want to export your SmartDraw drawing to a graphic format like EMF or WMF and then insert the drawing within PowerPoint. This is helpful if:
- You don't need to edit the SmartDraw content - or if you are
sharing the presentation with people who don't have SmartDraw
- You want to ungroup the graphic in PowerPoint and animate the
content - the caveat to this is that a SmartDraw drawing will
not retain its original features when imported to PowerPoint,
i.e. the automatic connector lines will not stick, text boxes
will not individually expand, etc.
- You want your finished presentation will be more compact and portable.
To export a drawing from SmartDraw:
- Open or create a SmartDraw drawing. Choose File | Export...
- The resultant 'Export' dialog box allows you to save the drawing
to several graphic formats - both vector and raster. In all you
can save to 18 formats - we'll choose WMF or EMF since they are
the best formats to transport graphic content to Microsoft applications.
Both WMF and EMF can also be natively edited within PowerPoint
as drawings - they can also be thereafter animated.
- In PowerPoint, choose Insert | Picture | From File... and navigate
to and choose the WMF/EMF file.
There's also another method - although it merely automates the above method:
- Copy your drawing while in SmartDraw - choose choose Edit |
Select All (Ctrl + A). Then, choose Edit | Copy (Ctrl + C).
- In PowerPoint, choose Edit | Paste Special and then choose
the Picture (Enhanced Metafile) option in the resultant dialog
box after copying a drawing from SmartDraw to the clipboard.