SmartDraw.com has just released the latest version of its popular business diagramming program, SmartDraw 2007. It may be one the most significant upgrades to SmartDraw ever. The biggest change in this new version is a revised interface, which appears to be inspired by the "ribbon" toolbars that Microsoft plans to launch in its Office 2007 productivity suite. Rather than a single row of toolbar buttons, the new SmartDraw toolbar consists of a series of rectangular sections that are devoted to specific types of tasks, each displaying multiple buttons. Some of these ribbons are context sensitive (what SmartDraw calls a "SmartPanel"); that is, they show commands that are related to the work you’re currently doing. The net effect of this new interface metaphor is that it gives you single-click access to more of the commands that you need to get work done. For a program like SmartDraw, where not every user is a diagramming pro, knowing what you CAN do in a given situation is an important usability enhancement!Click here for more details on SmartDraw’s new and improved features, including screen shots of individual SmartPanels.
I downloaded the trial version of SmartDraw 2007, and was impressed with the new interface. Some other notable new features include:
- Auto-linking of shapes. If you drag one shape near another, the two will automatically be connected to each other.
- Shape effects: A new graphics engine enables you to easily add reflections, glows, glosses and shadows to any drawing.
- Professionally designed themes, which enable you – with a single button click – to apply a color scheme to your drawing. This ought to be a big time saver for busy business users, who don’t want to spend a lot of time dressing up the appearance of their diagrams.
By the way, what is an overview of a business drawing program doing in this mind mapping software blog? For starters, SmartDraw 2007 does do mind maps. But more importantly, SmartDraw is the #1 program I recommend for all of your other diagramming needs, including flow charts, fishbone (cause and effect) diagrams and more.