January 2005

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column published for parents, teachers & business owners featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles, a free resource since 1995.


SmartDraw 7 a Professional Charting Program from SmartDraw

By Howard Berenbon

If you own any type of business and need to communicate your business ideas, including plans, proposals, invoices and more, then you should consider SmartDraw 7 from SmartDraw. It’s an inexpensive (compared to similar products on the market) and full-featured charting program for any business (or even personal use) that once you try, you won’t be able to live without it. It has so many features, and is so easy to use, that you’ll be diagramming and charting in minutes once installed. And if you’re not sure you really need SmartDraw, you can download a free trial version and see for yourself. Once installed, you won’t want to remove it from your list of valuable business tools.

SmartDraw offers 1,200 industry specific templates and over 60,000 professionally designed shapes and symbols that you merely click and drag to your document, or you can design your own. It also allows you to import drawings and photos to use with your charts. The templates and symbols are cleverly categorized by your business needs. It’s as simple as picking a template, say a floor plan for a house design, and then selecting the symbols you need in your design. If you need a quick invoice or proposal form, just click on one displayed that fits your needs, fill in your company name and address, and logo, and then enter your details. It’s that simple. Once complete, you can easily export your work to other programs like Word or PowerPoint. For ease of use, SmartDraw includes 30 plus design wizards to help get your designs up fast.

Applications include designing flowcharts, organizational charts, floor plans, Gantt charts, calendars, timelines, invoices and technical diagrams.

After about a 20-minute installation from the two CDs provided, I was ready to design something important for my business. Click on File then New and your options will appear. On the left side of the screen you can chose from 12 template categories including Flowcharts, Org Charts, Gantt Charts & Calendars, Floor Plans, Business Forms, Network Design, Software Design, Engineering, Medicine & Science, Business Process Management and Education. Clicking on a category will display lots of templates in the center of the screen in the form of thumbnail photos. Just double click on the template of your choice and it will be displayed and is modifiable. For example, if you have a need for special business forms, just click on the Business Forms category and you’ll find the forms organized under subcategories starting with Accounting, with the first template a Blank Form. Under accounting alone you’ll find numerous templates including Account Statement, Collections, Expense Report, Purchase Order, and many more. Under the Engineering category you’ll see Electrical, Electronics and Medical engineering templates. Under the Floor Plans category you’ll find all kinds of Home plans, Office and Facilities Management, Landscape & Outdoor Living, Heathcare, Education and more.

When you decide on the template you want to work with, double click on the design and it will be displayed in the center of your screen with the drawing tools menu at the top and the symbols and Wizards on the left you’ll need to modify your design and help automate your work. There’s also an extensive on-screen help feature and User Guide available if you need some immediate assistance. And if you really get stuck, you can contact SmartDraw for free and live technical support.

SmartDraw 7 Suite Edition sells for $297 and is available for any multimedia PC with a Pentium II processor or faster running Windows 98/Me/2000/XP with a minimum 100MB of hard disk space. For more information, or to download a free trial copy, visit SmartDraw.

Software Companies Mentioned

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