MacDirectory Magazine

Warren Manser

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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Page 89 of 115

REVIEW CONCEPTDRAW OFFICE >VISUALIZING PLANS AND IDEAS WORDS BY RIC GETTER The key to working smarter and not harder is using the right tools. True, you could produce your company's brochures in Microsoft Word. But taking some time to master Adobe's I nDesignwill produce far better results far more efficiently. For diagramming and technical illustration, the list of "right tools" for Mac users is fairly short. However, thanks to Odessa Software, that list includes some of the best available solutions. been updated to offer full support for Apple's Mountai Odessa's ConceptDraw Office 2suite has n Lion. The suite consists of three programs (each also available individually). ConceptDraw PRO 9is a full- on technical graphics program, useful for a wide variety of tasks from building org charts to laying out floor plans and network schematics. Functionally, it's comparable to Microsoft's Vi sio Professionalfor Windows. ConceptDraw PROJECT 6is a powerful and flexible project management and scheduling tool. And ConceptDraw MI NDMAP 7is a brainstorming and organizing tool that can take you from collecting and collating ideas to the formal presentation of your plan. Though there are a few limitations, the ConceptDraw Office suite applications play nicely with their Microsoft counterparts. Detail and Depth As Odessa's most popular product, ConceptDraw PRO 9 is the centerpiece of the suite. If you've been running Visio on a virtual machine or Windows hardware, having your drawing program available natively MacOS will be a welcome relief. In terms of the interface workflow, it has a good deal in common with the Microsoft product. The symbol libraries may not be as extensive, but they have all the important bases covered. Many objects provide you with the choice of a liquid look based on Apple's Aqua interface style as well as the conventional line drawings. Though it still lacks a style-sheet architecture, it is fairly easy to re-style groups of similar objects. One of ConceptDraw PRO's greatest strengths is the power it gives you in designing documents for interactive presentation. Odessa makes it quite easy to develop linked, multi-page/multi-screen visual documentation. Blocks and symbols overview to detailed Excel-ready reporting. The program also plays very well with other members of the ConceptDraw OFFICE suite. You can link to diagrams and layouts from ConceptDraw PRO as well as planning diagrams from MINDMAP. MINDMAP 7 is the latest iteration of Odessa's popular planning and brainstorming tool. In essence, it is like I nspiration, but with a bent towards in an overview can link to pages with a more detail. So, for example, clicking on a component of a company LAN can take you to a detailed diagram of that floor or office. A network closet floor plan can link to the actual layout of equipment in a rack. Users moving to ConceptDraw PRO (or, for that matter, Visio) from graphics tools traditionally used by the creative community may struggle a bit at first. The interface is designed for a technical illustration workflow based on a philosophy of flexibly connected symbols. It's perfect for the job at hand once you get the hang of it, but it's a substantially different mindset. The program does take a comfortably traditional approach to layers and, if you do need to do some freehand work, you'll find the spline tool a great way to exercise the Bezier pen tools you've already mastered. The Planning Stage PROJECT 6 is the latest edition of an application that we've always considered one of the most flexible yet powerful project planning tools on the market. Its greatest strength lies in the fact that it scales extraordinarily well from the personal to the professional. The interface on its more basic levels is simple, fast and surprisingly intuitive, letting you easily "what-if" a variety of time, budget and labor scenarios. While a project is in progress, PROJECT 6 lets you easily update your plans with the project's actual progress and keep an eye on things with a tools ranging from the unique dashboard business rather than the classroom. The learning curve comes into play with this application as well. But once you've mastered a few basics about how to use the tools, your charts can flow as quickly as your ideas. It is designed to take you from an initial blue-sky session to a polished presentation. Our favorite feature is its ability to present a chart as an animation, panning and zooming from view to view with a click of the mouse. The documentation behind ConceptDraw Office 2, both online and via the Help system is clear and comprehensive (though the occasional syntactical slip reveals the company's Ukrainian roots). Many of the help pages are illustrated with animated GIFs, showing how certain non-intuitive moves are made. Also, Odessa is developing a robust set of video tutorials for its website. These are particularly well done and help offset the suite's sometimes-steep learning curve. Odessa has a variety of cross-grade offers for users of competitive products as well as an academic pricing structure, making the best Mac-native tool for the job quite affordable. Product > ConceptDraw Office 2 Made by > CS Odessa ( Price > $499 (upgrade pricing available) System requirements > MacOS 10.6.8 or later; Intel CPU Pros > Powerful, professional graphics and planning tools; Unique and imaginative presentation features; excellent cross- application integration; Solid documentation Cons > Rating > Some aspects of interface have a steep learning curve 88 MacDirectory

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