Visio alternative SmartDraw makes diagramming and drawing a breeze for Mac/iPhone users
SmartDraw enables users to create an attractive network diagram from scratch in just minutes that can be viewed and edited using a variety of platforms.
Image: Erik Eckel/TechRepublic
I leverage a combination of computers and mobile devices to fulfill professional responsibilities. I frequently create documents and spreadsheets on one platform—either a MacBook Air running OS X El Capitan, a Dell OptiPlex 9020 running Windows 10 Professional, or an iPhone running iOS 9.3.1—and edit and view the files on another. Locating a compatible and capable drawing app can prove challenging.
Generating charts, diagrams, and network maps has long been the primary provenance of Microsoft Visio, requiring that I fire up a Windows VM when using my MacBook Air—a process that, while vastly improved over years past, is still cumbersome when needing only to view, make a minor edit to, or print a diagram or chart.
Thankfully, cloud providers such as SmartDraw and Lucidchart power potent cross-platform charting and diagramming solutions. Previously I explored Lucidchart’s capabilities, which proved helpful when tackling an organization chart task. Recently I checked out SmartDraw.
My review of SmartDraw
SmartDraw boasts a Windows desktop and cloud-based application that supports Mac OS X and iOS viewing and editing. SmartDraw offers an impressive range of templates. The diagramming application, both the cloud and Windows desktop versions, supports 70 kinds of visuals (including network diagrams, flowcharts, organization charts, decision trees, mind maps, and floor plans), boasts some 4,500 templates, and includes 34,000 symbols.
The ample visuals, symbols, and charts inventory means you’ll find the elements you need when building network maps, diagrams, charts, and similar drawings. While the standard default symbols included with Visio seem dated, SmartDraw possesses contemporary icons for a wide range of elements.
Using the web-based platform, Mac users can create, view, and edit landscapes, maps, floor plans, flowcharts, network diagrams, and numerous other diagrams, and then update and view the same files using an iPhone, iPad, or Windows desktop. iOS users can also create new files, if they wish.
SmartDraw Cloud files are stored within the user’s account on the SmartDraw website, which performed well in my tests. Files can be saved as PDFs and even exported to the clipboard, enabling pasting them into common Microsoft Office tools, including Word. Users can also export SmartDraw files as .SVG and .PNG files, and share files by generating a URL possessing view or view and edit permissions.
Creating and editing drawings and diagrams using SmartDraw is straightforward. The application features a traditional menu bar, while shapes and symbols appear in a separate pane. Most users will likely find they can begin creating capable drawings and diagrams immediately. Users seeking more guidance will benefit from a multitude of prepackaged tutorials, which include how-to videos for creating flowcharts, organization charts, floor plans, network diagrams, and mind maps.
Multi-user discounts are available for all three versions of SmartDraw: Standard, Business, and Enterprise.
- A Standard Edition one-time purchase license possessing no recurring fees is currently $197 and includes SmartDraw Cloud and SmartDraw for Windows as well as Visuals 40+, including floor plans, healthcare diagrams, forms, and software design tools.
- A Business Edition license leverages all the Standard Edition’s features and adds Business Visuals 70+ (which includes flowcharts, organization charts, network designs, decision trees, and more) is $297.
- The Enterprise Edition includes all the Business Edition’s features and adds project management, SharePoint integration, and more, and runs $497.
Check out the free trial
The next time you need to create compelling charts and diagrams, consider giving SmartDraw a look. A free trial enables you to kick the tires before committing.