Pretender to the Throne

I see that SmartDraw is still not being honest when they compare themselves to Visio. Visio was the innovator in business graphics alomst twenty years ago. There is always a competitor who wants to grow their business by comparing themselves to the innovator. CorelFlow did that for awhile. So what is wrong with the comparison?

  1. It is more affordable. If they were equivalent, then comparing on price makes sense, but they are not. It would be like comparing a bicycle to a car on price because they are both are forms of transportation.
  2. Their comparison table does not indicate what they are comparing. Some of the features indicates that it is not the latest version of Visio, Visio 2010, which has been out for a while now. Is this a comparision to Visio 2007 or Visio 2010, the Standard or the Pro version?
  3. 1900 vs 150 templates? What does this actually mean? Visio 2010 comes with almost 200 templates, but can create most of the so called 1900 templates. I was unable to verify the 1900 claim, but they do claim to have 70 different types of Visuals. Is the 1900 claim because of permutations on the 70? The examples given on the SmartDraw website can easily be created in Visio. There is no mention that if you can not find the shapes you want, you can create your own. How do you create shapes for SmartDraw? One of the things that sold me on Visio almost twenty years ago is that you are not limited to the choices that the manufacturer decided you needed. I even set up a website to highlight 3rd party shapes I had found on the internet. A lot ofthose links are now broken
  4. I do love their “ribbon” claim. When Microsoft introduced the ribbon, they chose to introduce it first in the core Office products in Office 2007. The other Office products, like Visio, were upgraded to ribbons in Office 2010 and benefitted from the experience gained from the core Office products that had the ribbon in 2007. For example, In Office 2010, the Office products had the ability to customize the ribbon. So by copying Microsoft, SmartDraw had a ribbon before Visio, but is it better?
  5. Automatically grow the drawing area? Visio 2010 does that. In Visio 2007, it was an easy matter to just grab the edge of the canvas to increase or decrease the size.
  6. Automatic *? So? Visio as been able to be automated for years.
  7. Programming Language? Ah, this explains why they are bragging about the Automatic *. SmartDraw is not programmable? Visio was the first non Microsoft product to fully implement VBA. (In 2000, Microsoft acquired Visio). The object model for Visio is open and you can program against it from many languages, not just the built in VBA language.
  8. As most Visio developers know, the programming language is only part of a solution. With Visio you can add smarts to the shapes and accomplish some amazing diagrams without writing a single line of code. Can you do this with SmartDraw shapes?
  9. I do like their boast that they can read native Visio format, *.vsd, a proprietory format that Microsoft has not released. Definitely something to instill trust, and establish honesty.

So, Visio was the innovator and continues to grow to meet users demands. They are in no way ready to hand off their crown. They have a number of new features they are working on for the next version of Visio. Twentyyears ago, they were the adopted child of the Office family. They fit in, but there were differences. Now, the bonds to the other members of the Office family continue to grow.

John Marshall… Visio MVP

Published by johnvisiomvp

The original Visio MVP. I have worked with the Visio team since 1993