For the last few years, I’ve used a tool called Smart Draw for a lot of images that I use on my websites and in my books & PDFs. However, something happened in the last week that made me look elsewhere – I had to buy a new laptop. My old laptop hadn’t completely fallen apart, but it was certainly giving me more blue screens of death and load times were painful. I’d had that trusty laptop for several years and it had never let me down, so it was sad saying goodbye to my old friend. However, what happened next just added salt to my wounds. I obviously had to install all of the software onto my new machine. In 99% of cases, this wasn’t a problem. Where there were license issues (installing the same license on another machine), vendors sorted this out for me, in many cases issuing a new license number. However, I searched high and low for my download of Smart Draw, but could not find it.
I went over to the Smart Draw website as I remembered there was a login area for customers to access their purchases. Here is what I saw under my purchases and downloads:
All but one of those invoices is for a SmartDraw upgrade. None of the software was still available for download. OK, I spent:
SmartDraw 7 Suite – $228.52
SmartDraw 2008 Upgrade – $114.84
SmartDraw 2009 Upgrade – $114.84
A total of $458.20 for this tool, and I could not access it anymore. I realize that I bought these a long time ago, but come on. How about keeping your customers happy without having to pay extra for a future download?
Oh, wait. There is an Upgrade Now link….
They are offering my an upgrade to SmartDraw 2013 for just $99. Add the tax to that and I guess it comes to $114.84 like my last two upgrades.
Enough is enough. I went looking for an alternative, and I found one. It’s called EDraw Max and costs $99.95. If you pay $149.95, you get lifetime upgrades (that’s upgrades, not just the ability to download your purchased version again in the future).
I downloaded the trial of EDraw Max, and was really very pleasantly surprised. Not only does this tool replace Smart Draw, it can also replace the Mind Map software that I use, called Novamind.
EDraw Max is an ALL-IN-ONE graphic solution which combines several of the companies individual graphic tools for flowcharts, organizational charts, network diagrams & UML diagrams.
I spent a few minutes playing around with EDraw Max, and quickly redid some of my old Smart Draw diagrams using is. In fact, I went through every diagram in my SEO 2013 Kindle Book and redid them in EDraw Max. The results were fantastic. The images look more vibrant and more pleasant to look at.
This program is so easy to use.
I haven’t migrated totally over to it yet as I do still like Novamind for mind maps, but I can see that coming too. One of the main features I look for in a mind mapping program is an easy way to “Brainstorm”. In Novamind I use the INSERT and RETURN keys to insert new nodes as children or siblings (hopefully that makes sense to your mind mappers out there). In EDraw Max, the system is almost the same, using INSERT and CTRL+INSERT to achieve the same thing.
Another thing I like in mind mapping tools is a way to export a mind map as a text file. That way I can plan a book or course as a mind map, and easily move it over to a Word Processor. Novamind excelled at this, but then EDraw Max can handle this as well.
With the mind map open, click the Export Data button on the Mind Map ribbon bar and select Text Format.
This will then save the Mind Map as a plain text file.
Here is one I created earlier from a Marketing Strategy Mind Map that came as an example with the program:
This means I can use the same workflow as I did with Novamind. Outline my book as a Mind Map, export it to text, and use the main sections as the chapters of my books.
Different types of graphics have different text export formats. For example, organizational charts export as tab-delimited text files which make more sense for that type of graphic. EDraw Max also gives you other formats to export to, including CSV, Excel and Word formats. Plus there are options for:
Overall this program is very well thought out. The features are easily accessible through the ribbon bar at the top. It is impossible for me to go into detail on all of the features.
I’ll finish off by showing you the ribbon bar tabs. Also, if you want, I can always create some video tutorials showing how to use EDraw Max if you are interested. Just leave a comment at the end of this review with your suggestions.
NOTE: Click to enlarge these ribbon bar images.
The Home Tab:
The Insert Tab:
The Page Layout Tab:
The View Tab:
The Symbols tab:
The next menu is a help menu that does what it’s name suggests.
There will also be an additional tab depending on the type of diagram you are creating. e.g. if you are creating a mind map, there is an additional Mind Map tab:
I love EDraw Max and what makes it even better is that I never have to worry about keeping a backup of the download file in case my computer needs to be replaced. I’ll always have access to updates to this program.
If you are interested, you can buy a standard license for eDraw Max which gets you upgrades for a year and allows you to install on one computer, or a lifetime version which gets you lifetime upgrades and allows you to install on two computers.