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SmartDraw 2010 Review

SmartDraw 2010: All-Purpose Business Graphics Drawing Software

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating
User Rating 3 Star Rating (4 Reviews)

By John Prida, Contributor

SmartDraw 2010

SmartDraw 2010

© SmartDraw

Description

  • SmartDraw 2010 is a versatile program that helps you easily create a variety of drawings from flowcharts to floor plans. Even landscape designs, family trees and crime scenes!
  • SmartDraw makes it possible for the average person to quickly create high-quality visuals in minutes.
  • Comes with numerous templates and symbol libraries to get you started quickly.
  • Allows you to export your drawing to several popular formats including PDF, Visio, Word, Excel or PowerPoint.
  • SmartDraw offers specialized versions of the software including a Legal Edition and Healthcare Edition.
  • For Windows 7, Vista, XP, or 2000.

Features

This review was previously written using the 2008 version of SmartDraw. The look and feel of SmartDraw 2010 will be familiar to users of prior versions, however the user interface is more polished, including a sleeker opening page with large icons to select your new project type or a pre-built template. The most common project types are grouped under the Basics folder and recent documents are presented as large thumbnail previews. The 2010 version of SmartDraw makes a strong case for business consumers on its ability to enhance the overall collaboration and visual communication for their employees. Some of the most compelling features are:  
  • Enhanced interface for project management. Import/export MS Project files.

  • Enhanced PowerPoint integration with built in sequencing.

  • Integration with Sharepoint for easier collaboration.

  • Automatic Flowcharting - flowcharts are built using simple commands. Shapes are placed with lines drawn automatically. The flowchart is spaced and aligned automatically as it is created.

  • Automatic Graphic Design - graphic themes specifying colors, line and type style can be automatically applied to each project. This feature quickly gives your project a unified, professional look.

  • One-Step Charts and Picture Charts - charts and graphs can be built without creating a spreadsheet first. Users can create charts using pictures or images to display data.

  • Live Maps - captures live Google map data from the Internet allowing users to easily incorporate roads, counties, and zip codes into their project. I see this as an amazing time-saver.

Background

Floor plan drawn with SmartDraw 2010.

Floor plan drawn with SmartDraw 2010. © J.M. Prida

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My background is in engineering so I am experienced with schematic capture as well as a variety of drawing programs that facilitate the creation of software design documents such as flowcharts, state diagrams and software architectures. These programs include Rational Rose, PowerPoint, Visio, CorelDRAW, allCLEAR and the like.

My Drawing Project

I was originally led to SmartDraw while looking for an easy program to sketch floor plans and home designs for a vacation cabin. I needed a program with lots of pre-packaged symbols and easy-to-use tools for drawing walls, doors, windows, furniture, etc., because I had no patience for creating all these symbols myself. SmartDraw certainly fulfilled these requirements.

With the new version, I continued work with a new floor plan to become familiar with the program. Again, in just a couple of hours, I had created another professional-looking, to-scale floor plan. To further exercise the program I created a room elevation, a bar chart, a UML diagram and a typical system diagram that might be created for engineering purposes. I'd like to stress here how simple SmartDraw is to use, especially for floor plan sketches. I've tried other more general drawing programs and they don't come close. SmartDraw's extensive symbol libraries and automatic tools make it a breeze to use. I don't mean to over-stress the floor plan features (there is much more that SmartDraw can do), but the floor plan project is what I used as my measuring stick.

Using SmartDraw 2010

Room elevation drawn with SmartDraw 2010.

Room elevation drawn with SmartDraw 2010. © J.M. Prida

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When you open SmartDraw, the start page presents large icons to select a new project type or choose a pre-built template. A search is available along with recent documents and templates. The list includes just about every type of drawing you could ever require: calendars, certificates, engineering, floor plans, flowcharts, and more. The most common projects are presented under Basics, while Templates includes the full cadre of available projects with examples of each. Clicking on the broad categories brings up a sub-list of more-specific drawing types. Thumbnail images of the templates are presented and clicking the template opens a new document with that template in the main edit window.

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