Search form


SmartDraw Reviews

This review reflects the observations and experiences of independent teacher volunteers, and is provided as a service to Education World readers. The review in no way constitutes an endorsement of the product or its manufacturer by those teachers or by Education World.


SmartDraw, a software application from, allows users to create charts, diagrams, timelines, technical drawings, and a variety of professional-looking documents and presentations. Recently, Education World reviewers checked out SmartDraw and found a myriad of uses for the software, both in their personal and professional lives. Our reviewers rated the software on a scale of 1-4 and shared their thoughts about the program's strengths and weaknesses. This is what they had to say! Included: Comments about how the software functioned in actual classroom situations.

SmartDraw by is a software program for creating charts, diagrams, timelines, flowcharts, technical drawings, documents, and presentations. The software includes more than 50,000 symbols and clip art images, as well as templates and tutorials. With SmartDraw, you can create newsletters, maps, labels, posters, and more -- and then publish your work on your free SmartDraw Web space.


You Review Software

Do you agree with our reviewers' rating of SmartDraw? E-mail [email protected] to share your experiences with SmartDraw.

Recently, Education World asked our reviewers, all teachers or educational technology specialists, to check out SmartDraw in actual classroom situations. Reviewers were asked to use SmartDraw both in their personal and professional lives for a period of at least one month, note specific strengths, weaknesses, and/or quirks of the program, record their observations -- both positive and negative -- and rate various qualities of the software on a scale of 1-4.

The results are in -- and this is what our reviewers had to say!


Click here to see educators' reviews of other products including Kidspiration, Graph Master, MovieWorks, NetSupport School, NetOpSchool, and more!



overall chart

Click for a detailed chart.

"I really like this program. I used it years ago for a networking class, and it helped so much for students to actually design layouts with standard symbols used in the real world. It brought meaning to the class when they could actually print their diagram and hand it to a professional and have them understand exactly what was on the page."

"I used this software to prepare for a course I'll be co-teaching next term with language arts preservice teachers. I could easily see how classroom teachers might use it create such materials as newsletters and integrated timelines with their students."

"I would love to purchase this program for our educational studies department. This one software piece can be used instead of Microsoft Office, Inspiration, Print Shop Deluxe, Microsoft Publisher, TimeLiner, Graph Club, and more! When it comes to the presentation of instructional materials, this program has the ability to perform the tasks of four to five other applications."

"I used the networking library for training teachers of networking classes. Participants drew an 'existing' network layout, printed it as a visual aid, and then revised the plan using SmartDraw. The participants were very impressed with the software and with how easy it was to use. I also demonstrated the software for technology directors."

"I used the flier library to create information to distribute. The end product looked very professional."

"I experimented with in the program and created graphic organizers and flowcharts. They were surprisingly easy to do. I especially like the automatic alignment and sizing options."

"I would recommend the purchase of this program for school use. The Professional Plus version includes 50,000 symbols and clip art images. This program could be used in a lab setting by any grade level and in any subject area. It is also a great administrative tool -- for both teachers and administrators. The other versions can have libraries added on after purchase. This would give a school district/user many options."

"I used SmartDraw to create handouts for student use and to create a variety of images to include in a PowerPoint presentation that will be used at a future conference. Several students used the program to create graphics for their graduation projects, and my husband used it to generate illustrations for test questions."

"I have this program loaded on one machine that is available for teacher use, and the teachers are fighting over that specific machine -- they all want to use it."

"This software is very versatile and easy to learn to use in a short amount of time. I used the program to draw a living room floor plan; create a timeline of actions steps for our district technology plan; create a state map that students used Paint to add cities, rivers, and regions to; and made some stationary. I also created flowcharts and organizational charts."

"I used this program to create fliers; I imported a picture into one of the frames and saved it as an HTML file, which worked very well. I also saved some drawings I made as gifs, which worked very well too. The only feature I didn't like very much was the one that allows you to e-mail what you create. If you use the SmartDraw method (and don't export it into another file format), you get a file that has to be viewed by a SmartDraw viewer, which you have to get at the SmartDraw site. It's a fast download and worked well, but I found it to be an inconvenience."

"What did I like about SmartDraw?

  • The software was fairly easy to learn to use. Many of the tools were consistent with ones I often use with MS products, Adobe, and Macromedia.
  • The pop-up Advisor can be very helpful, and having the option to turn it off is also important.
  • I liked the linking feature for the charts, and that items stay connected even when moved. Being able to choose infinite connection points is also an important option.
  • The option that included adding text to a line was wonderful. It made it easy to rearrange a chart and have everything move with it.
  • Using the arrow keys to 'nudge' items into position is a great and useful option.
  • Being able to add your own shapes or symbols to the libraries is wonderful.
  • The publishing options -- e-mailing a file with a viewer, publishing to a Web page, or printing straight from SmartDraw -- were many and worked conveniently.
  • Having templates to edit -- and so many -- is great!

What didn't I like? When I pasted data from an Excel chart into a table, quotation marks appeared in some cells. I also wanted to be able to sort the rows in my chart by date, but sorting of any kind wasn't an option I could find. My table spanned three pages and I wanted to be able to insert page breaks for a 'cleaner' publication, but that wasn't an option either."


Click here to see educators' reviews of other products including Inspiration, TimeLiner, Graph Club, Adobe Photoshop, and more!

Go to the detailed ED-u-rate chart.


"In using this program with Windows XP, I had to install it, uninstall it, and then install it again, because it went to the serial number dialogue box instead of to the program. On a second machine, using the same operating system, it went just fine the first time."

"I didn't find any recommendations or instructions for installing the other collections at a later date. The installation defaults with one library checked. You have the option of installing the others and then you have options on each library as to what to add. I didn't see anything explaining that you would need to go through another installation, or that you could import other libraries, or what the process might be. The program did, however, show the size/space taken up and how much was left when you checked the other libraries you wanted to install."

"I had a lot of trouble loading the program. In the process, I blew the motherboard on my laptop and ran into problems on my desktop as well. I was finally able to load it completely after the fourth attempt. In order to do that, I had to copy files from the CD and place them on another drive and run it from there. Evidently, something on the CD was defective. Once the program was loaded, however, I was able to use it with no further problems."

"I did not experience any difficulties installing the program."

"The program installed completely without any problems, although it did seem to take a while (possibly due to the vast amount of graphics)."


Go to the detailed ED-u-rate chart.


"The software includes good help tips, if the user wants them. Documentation is excellent, if one takes the time to read it before getting started with the software."

"If a user has any experience at all with any other drawing program, including the drawing tools in MS Office, this program will be easy to use. With the drag-and-drop interface, even inexperienced or young users will have no problem."

"The Online Tutorial was helpful, but if it would have been more useful it had been interactive. Trying the options you are reading about would be more beneficial for first time users."

"The Content Advisor and the Hints were annoying. The Content Advisor takes up space. If it was a check box asking you if you wanted to see it, instead of just being there, I would have liked it better. The hints were useful at first -- and they would be helpful for beginners -- but they got in the way pretty fast. If there was an option that automatically shut them off after the first ten times the program was opened (or something like that), I would like it better. That way, the user could turn them back on instead of turning them off. The "opt out" option is there; I would just like the process reversed."

"I like the continuity of processes; i.e. commands are the same as in other software. (For example, selecting multiple items is achieved by holding down shift and selecting.) That makes the software easier to use for most people."

"I found the program to be very useful for a variety of teachers, subjects, and grade levels."

"I had a bit of a difficult time viewing the teeny pictures of graphics. They are supposed to be viewed by double clicking, but I kept forgetting that feature and thinking that I needed to somehow see those teeny icons. It was probably more my fault than the program's!"


Go to the detailed ED-u-rate chart.


"I had no problems the entire time I used the software. I used the software in MS Office -- importing a chart I had created -- without a hitch. I have had OLE type applications lock up before, but this was a smooth operation."

"Once it was loaded, I had no problems!"

"I never experienced any bugs, lock ups, conflicts, or problems with the software."


Go to the detailed ED-u-rate chart.


"I am most impressed with this software for use by preservice teachers. It offers more than Microsoft Office for presenting materials to students and families. In addition, the program offers some of the same features as Tom Snyder's Graph Club and TimeLiner."

"I felt this program would be useful at every grade level and in every curriculum, especially if all the libraries were installed. The program is easy to use, and would be beneficial not only for students, but for teachers and administrators as well."

"I could never have created on my own the graphs and drawing this program provided. My husband, who generates questions for a national testing company, also found it useful for illustrations, and so on."

"The educational price seemed very reasonable to me. I think teachers, as well as middle-and high-school students could benefit from this software. Vocational technical students could use it for many purposes too."

"I can see students in middle school and above using this software to enhance their reports or other schoolwork; older students and professionals would find this a handy piece of software to have on their computers for presentations and the like."

"The more I played with this software, the more I liked it. It is not for the faint of heart, however! There are many libraries to check out and a bit of manipulating around the canvas is needed to create a nice finished piece."


Click here to see educators' reviews of other products including TimeLiner, Graph Club, GraphMaster, and more!


Go to the detailed ED-u-rate chart.


"The Help menu provides a link to the SmartDraw Web site, where you can find trial versions of the software and register for e-mails with links to graphics."

"According to the documentation, technical support is readily available, but I didn't use that option. I did go to the Web site, however, to see what was offered; there are many resources. I liked that fact that you can download a manual and that there was a knowledge base. I also like the software update options. This could save a lot of time. Another plus is the free download of the software. This would allow a teacher to actually try the software first. A 30-day trial is enough time for someone to become familiar with the software and even lead a workshop to see if the other faculty/participants are enthusiastic about the product."

"I did not attempt to contact the company to receive any live tech support; I only accessed the help text provided with the software."

"This program was intuitive enough -- maybe because I have played with other mapping software -- that I didn't need to access help very much. I tend to play more with the features as I go along to see what they do."


Go to the detailed ED-u-rate chart.


Article by Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © 2003 Education World