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SmartDraw VP – Visual Processing for Individuals or Businesses
By James Lenhart

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When blogging first started the focus was primarily on what was being written. Now days you must be sufficient in both pleasing the readers eyes, and making the content interesting. However, sometimes a graphic is all you need to tell the whole story. A common practice for blogs these days is to provide infographics on a certain subject that is relevant to the times. Here’s a great example of one that’s focused around Twitter’s 5th year celebration.

It’s pleasing to the eye and it’s setup in a way that feels more natural. Who knows, you may even retain more information this way. I know I do, but Infographics take a lot of time to perfect and can sometimes be more of a pain than gain, which is why you need tools.

Many designers will prefer to use Photoshop and Illustrator over anything, but for those that aren’t as design savvy SmartDraw VP could be an answer for you, or your company. SmartDraw is very “office-like”, but seems very robust with it’s many options, layouts, and formats to choose from. Most of what you’d like to create comes with a template, so you can get an idea of what to shoot for. The company offers many ways to become familiar with the software through tutorials and videos. Once you’re acquainted I really feel like you could create some fantastic visual displays.

Although that said, I feel that Smartdraw VP would be best used within an office where you might need charts, or diagrams printed onto a poster board before a meeting. For example, an employee could take an excel file containing the data needed. Once formatted properly he or she can visually represent that data by using SmartDraw VP’s import functionality.

From what I can tell SmartDraw VP does not have access to API’s. It would be wonderful to create visuals in SmartDraw that were based on data from the web instead of through excel and other provided options. It’s possible that there is something like that and I could just be unaware.

We wrote about a company earlier that is doing similar things for self-creation of infographics, and I still feel like they have a better shot at targeting what people really want to display on the web. If you’re looking to display charts that will be used for internal use within a company SmartDraw VP is definitely what I would choose. The company offers a free trial of the software here, and I’d definitely recommend watching this video.

As for myself, I’ve still not seen anything that gives me as much flexibility as Photoshop, but again this is not for people that are like myself. A program like this is perfect for anyone that doesn’t ooze creativity and could use some help in creating some nice visuals.


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