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I heart SmartDraw but I wish it was free

March 27, 2010

I wanted a program that could make flowcharts, preferably a freebie.  I don’t have Visio and I don’t really make that many flowcharts, but enough that it might be time-consuming, so I asked my friend Mr. Google “process drawing free” or something like that.  He suggested a few items, but what really caught my eye was SmartDraw.  Not only does it do flowcharts, but it also does org charts, an a bunch of other stuff.  My two faves: mindmapping of tasks that automatically converts into a gantt chart (may be worth the sticker price alone) and some good business and/or marketing type of diagrams/models (7 P’s, Venn, SWOT…).  

I now heart it. I downloaded the 7 day trial (only 7 days, that’s not nearly enough time!) and am making diagrams of all kinds to see how easy it is.  You can then import them into office suite – word, excel, even powerpoint.   They also have a good little sample of screencasts to show you cool things to do.  I will be able to make such nice diagrams. 

But if it is true love, I’m gonna have to cough up the $200 to own it. 

Damn you SmartDraw. 

Does anyone have an alternative to SmartDraw that they use?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    March 28, 2010 10:15 am

    I heart SmartDraw as well.

    And I have no regrets about coughing up money for a well-done piece of software such as this one. It makes my life a whole lot easier and saves me hours and hours of time (not to mention frustration). There have been a number of situations in which I needed to draw something unusual that I never would have predicted. I opened up SmartDraw and it did what I needed, quickly and painlessly. To draw it de novo in PowerPoint would have taken me hours.

    My time is a valuable commodity and I always think about those sorts of tradeoffs when deciding what software to purchase. By the same token, I think the time and expertise of software developers is also valuable and should be compensated as well. I’m certainly grateful for all of the people who develop free software but when software has a reasonable business model (without annoying activation schemes), I don’t begrudge them making a living too.

    Disclaimer: I am a full-time salaried educator and have no personal or familial financial relationships to software companies.

  2. March 28, 2010 10:46 am

    I had the same need and I also found SmartDraw very good. I didn’t find the same quality in free softwares so I decided to buy it. As in one your last tweet “time is money”, and this software makes me gain a lot of time, probably much more than 200$ now…

  3. March 30, 2010 10:18 am

    I wish it were free too but if it were I suspect there wouldn’t be this really cool product that we heart called SmartDraw. I’ve never regretted spending the money on SmartDraw, it’s outstanding.

  4. hollymacdonald permalink*
    March 30, 2010 10:18 am

    @Laura, @Sebastien – I agree with both of you – the cost of the software will help me save time, so it is worth it. I’ve checked out some freebies, but to paraphrase the movie Jerry Maguire – it had me at convert mind map to gantt chart!

    @Kathy – thanks so much for the link to more resources. When it works well, the internet can be a beautiful thing.

    Happy drawing!

  5. March 31, 2010 3:13 pm

    I have SmartDraw and Visio. I like ’em both. I use SmartDraw almost exclusively now; it’s easier to use and anything Visio has that SmartDraw doesn’t can be imported into SmartDraw (e.g., some of the arrows I like in Visio aren’t in SmartDraw). One thing I especially like about SmartDraw is the visual display of all the diagrams I’ve created when I open SmartDraw. I can visually scan and get the one I want; can’t do that in Visio.

    • hollymacdonald permalink*
      March 31, 2010 3:21 pm

      @Fred (and everyone else) – I have taken the plunge. SmartDraw and I are officially an item. I’m in it for the long term.

  6. April 1, 2010 11:54 pm

    I love using Smartdraw and I think that they deserve the 200 $. It is unbelievable cheap for what you get.

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