Paul Stannard is CEO of SmartDraw.com, creators of the popular SmartDraw program. In this Indezine exclusive conversation, Paul discusses the new features in the just-released SmartDraw 2009.5
Geetesh: Tell us more about SmartDraw 2009.5’s new features, and why there are important to Microsoft Office users.
Paul: SmartDraw 2009.5 adds many new features. These three significant features increase SmartDraw’s already considerable integration with Microsoft Office:
- In addition to using our presentation storyboard template to plan a PowerPoint presentation, you can now actually build it! SmartDraw 2009.5 will build a complete PowerPoint slideshow from your storyboard with graphical slides and animation. Using a storyboard in SmartDraw is a much more effective way to author a presentation than launching straight into the first slide in PowerPoint, and now you can translate your plan directly into slides.
- A lot of people use SmartDraw for project planning. 2009.5 adds the ability to export SmartDraw projects to Microsoft Project and vice versa. Microsoft Project is a complex program usually used by experts. Now all the people working on a large project can use SmartDraw to manage their piece of it and submit their updated project information to a project guru who integrates it into the large project plan managed with Microsoft Project. Likewise, the guru running Project can break a large project down into smaller pieces and distribute it to the people managing each piece using SmartDraw.
- SmartDraw 2009.5 adds the ability to directly select and import data from Excel into SmartDraw charts. You could always do this using copy and paste but now you can see your spreadsheet and select the portion you want while inside SmartDraw.
Geetesh: Your implementation of PowerPoint-specific features is complete enough so that content created in SmartDraw need not be re-colored or re-animated in PowerPoint. What motivated you to create something so complete?
Paul: It’s been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and we know that communicating visually with visuals in your slide is six times as effective for retention and comprehension than bullets. So, many SmartDraw owners use it to enhance their PowerPoint presentations.
Because this is such a popular and worthwhile application of SmartDraw we decided to provide a complete solution to PowerPoint users with the following capabilities:
- One-click transfer to PowerPoint. One click on a button in the SmartDraw UI will transfer the visual you are working on to an open PowerPoint presentation by inserting a slide showing it.
- Built-in animation. Most visuals, including charts and graphics, are better presented by revealing them in steps using animation rather than all at once. We call this sequencing and it’s automatic for many SmartDraw visuals. You can also customize the sequencing inside SmartDraw, preview it and then transfer the animation and the visual to PowerPoint with one click.
- Building a PowerPoint slideshow from a storyboard. Creating an effective PowerPoint presentation is more than just creating effective slides. It’s also important to plan the order and content of the slides.
The SmartDraw storyboard template makes this much easier than working inside PowerPoint. You get a complete picture of your whole presentation. You can drag and drop slides and bullets to change the content and order effortlessly. You can also link to other SmartDraw files that contain visuals you want to include on a slide and see a thumbnail of it in your storyboard.
Finally, when you are satisfied with the storyboard of your presentation, you can pick the PowerPoint template you want to use and just one click will build the entire slide deck, inserting the visuals from other SmartDraw files you specified, including their sequencing. This command sews all of our PowerPoint integration together for a complete solution.
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