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Kool Tools: CS Odessa's ConceptDraw Office

Volume Number: 26
Issue Number: 03
Column Tag: Kool Tools

Kool Tools: CS Odessa's ConceptDraw Office

by Dennis Sellers

Knowledge workers and project managers will find themselves saving time with CS Odessa's US$499 ConceptDraw Office (http://www.conceptdraw.com), business productivity software suite that combines three of the company's software titles: MindMap, Project and ConceptDraw Pro.

CS Odessa's InGyre technology is used to integrates the three into a smooth, interactive business solution: MindMap, a mind mapping and business productivity tool; Project, project management software; and ConceptDraw Pro, a professional business graphics app. You can use a single data file between all three apps. In other words, you can brainstorm project ideas using a whiteboard-like view, organize results into mind maps, and turn data into detailed project plans and Gantt chart.

MindMap - which, by the way, integrates with Mac OS X's iCal - lets you brainstorm free-floating topics, and then rearrange them via drag and drop. There's a built-in session timer.

It offers full editing capability and keyboard shortcuts. You can create hyperlinks from files associated with topics; hyperlinks are automatically created, and accurately organized around related topics. That's a great time saver.

What's more, ConceptDraw MindMap lets you share map content with other project team members who don't have the ConceptDraw MindMap app installed. When MindMap users send mind maps via email, a PNG view attachment is automatically generated and attached to the email message.

MindMap also integrates with Microsoft Office and Microsoft Project compatible software. The software provides a text outline view that can appear simultaneously with a map. You can switch between the map view and the outlined text description, with all changes and additions appearing real-time in both.

MindMap has smooth lines and text along with gradient fills and transparency settings for all map elements. Vector drawing tools let you draw handmade mind maps or create custom visual elements and shapes to enhance documents.

MindMap includes support for personal productivity methodologies, including "Getting Things Done" (GTD) by David Allen. You can add, edit and track task information, priorities, and links in detailed project maps, or build a simple task and priority map to track progress.

MindMap is compatible with all major Mac OS X project management software titles and MS Office. The app's support of MS Project XML file format allows data transferring to and from MindMap and project management applications. PowerPoint export allows users to present mind maps to an audience, while Word export lets you prepare business documentation. Export features require only MindMap (version 5 or higher) installed without the need of any additional software.

ConceptDraw Project is project management software designed for planning and keeping track of any number of projects running simultaneously - with a different focus and common resources that need to be shared. Once you've set up a project, you can implement a series of main tasks and sub-tasks within it. The software includes tooltips on the Tasks, modified menus and other features that improve the workflow.

With ConceptDraw Project, you can juggle several projects simultaneously, managing and creating links in resources shared by different projects. The software offers a Gantt view, Project view, Network diagram, and Critical Path Management. Other features include smart multi-selection, task linking with drag and drop, coloring and filling, information sorting, and a filters toolset.

Project can generate reports in HTML and share them across the web. It offers a wide range of project documentation that's very helpful. There's no Microsoft version of Projects for Windows for the Mac, buy you can import Microsoft Project files. What's more, the CS Odessa software supports MS Project XML.

Overall, Project makes it easy to manage the resources being shared by different projects. And the ability to create linkages between them while making multiple projects from a single workspace makes life much simpler.

ConceptDraw Pro lets you design professional-looking graphics, diagrams, flowcharts, floor plans and more in minutes with ease. It offers a range of easy-to-use tools for making all sorts of diagrams and charts. You'll be able to get the hang of it quickly even if you're not well versed in using drawing tools.

The user interface is fairly intuitive and comes with pre-drawn library shapes and templates. As a drawing tool, ConceptDraw Pro is designed to be used as a whiteboard for visualizing business and project-related info. If you're looking for a way to organize your business better, give ConceptDraw Office a try; a demo is available for download.

By the way, CS Odessa also offers the ConceptDraw Office Training Pack, consists of a number of short instructional videos, which demonstrate user scenarios and some important functionality in ConceptDraw Office. Also included in the training pack are Tips and Tricks documentation, Samples Gallery and many other start-up tools to help users discover the capability behind ConceptDraw Office. It's a free download.


Dennis Sellers is a long time journalist. He started in the newspaper business, but has been in the online journalism business for the past 15 years. He's the editor/publisher of Macsimum News (http://www.macsimumnews.com)

 
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