SMARTDRAW 2007 (release 8.1) (www.smartdraw.com) business graphics software enables contractors to create professional quality business graphics without any formal design training or special training on drawing software. A handy tool in or out of the office, it facilitates fast presentation-quality floor plans, timelines, Gantt charts, presentation graphics and drawing plans that can be submitted to local building departments and others for approval.
SmartDraw 2007-8.1 fully supports mobile computing on a tablet PC, so a contractor traveling light can use it both on a sales call to show and tell concepts or proposed plans and to take notes when walking a job for estimating or other purposes.
The program, which operates easily via its intuitive interface, features pre-formatted ready-made graphics for plumbing, HVAC, wiring, kitchen and bathroom fixtures, lighting fixtures and furniture that users can select and "stamp" onto the onscreen "page" to create a graphic. The toolbar atop the drawing area keeps the common drawing, editing and viewing tools always immediately accessible.
Impress a customer with a plan that shows as well as tells.
Stamping is an alternative to drag-and-drop that does not require holding down the mouse button to move the symbols into place. Rather, the user clicks once to select and then moves the mouse to the desired location and then clicks again to drop it into place. Line selection and placement can be handled similarly.
When using a tablet PC, the user employs the stylus to select and stamp appropriate shapes onto the page where they can then customize and annotate the drawings with hand-drawn lines and handwritten words that can be converted automatically to typed text.
To jumpstart output, the software offers more than 150 SmartTemplates that facilitate quick drawing of 33 different types of graphics. Each template features a specially configured group of command buttons most relevant to the tasks appropriate to the type of graphic.
For example, the Flowchart Smart-Panel has icons for single-click task buttons to Add Shapes, Add Text, Add Lines, Arrowheads, Line Hops, and to access SmartHelp relevant to that task and diagram. And for Timelines and Project Charts, tasks and events are entered with a single click, eliminating need to individually modify cells, rows, gridlines and text.
Other user-friendly capabilities include the ability to apply a full range of colors, texturing and special effects to any graphic. Pre-configured "themes" incorporating named sets of color, textures, styles and background allow users to easily change all styles and objects in a drawing at once.
SmartDraw features automatic dimensioning scaled to current ruler settings, with the dimensions shown or hidden as desired. Users can view the exact area of a shape as it is drawn,with the measurements scaling up and down as the shape's size changes.
Users can edit existing symbols and templates, build their own, can create specially tailored libraries of frequently utilized symbols and shapes for quick access, and can employ the program's free form drawing tool to construct unique shapes and lines.
Using this software to generate professional graphics can increase a contractor's wow-ability, impressing a customer with a plan or proposal that shows as well as tells.
Anyplace Control 3.3 (www.anyplacecontrol.com) is a multifunctional utility for remote PC monitoring and administration that enables the system administrator or anyone else so authorized to view the desktops of other users on the company network and, via keyboard and mouse, remotely access those computers to launch programs, transfer files, fix technical problems, shut down, reboot or completely take over control of the remote PC.
The program supports simultaneous multiple connections, permitting remote technical support and help desk services company-wide, without any travel required by a technician or administrator. Both the Admin and Host (client and server) modules are distributed electronically over the Internet, eliminating need for time-consuming onsite visits to set it all up.
The software can be set up for direct access from a home PC or laptop. It's a convenient way to have one foot in the office even when working from home.
The host module requires an access password and the software has other features, which restrict access and defend the computer from an unauthorized-remote access.
Panduit (www.Panduit.com/cc.16, 800/777-3300) recently introduced CAD-CONNECT Labeling Software designed to generate labels quickly and easily within CAD programs such as AutoCAD and Visio. The solution captures and organizes identifiers from electronic CAD files to automatically create and print labels, eliminating the steps and time spent manually copying identifiers into labeling software.
Bill and Patti Feldman can be reached at [email protected].