If I had to pick one thing that I have liked in the Microsoft Suite of products in recent years, I would without question say it is the “Smart Art” feature that is incorporated in many of their products. I especially enjoy the aspect of creating numerous flow diagrams very simply and by typing text only. Since I have only used text, I can cut and paste and used different diagrams till I get it right. The drawback obviously is when I need numerous swimlanes or deviations from the “Smart Art.” It is not the fault of this MSO feature, it was never supposed to be flowcharting or process mapping software.
Many years ago, I had several desktop programs that served this functionality. One was a very simple Org Chart software and another was a precursor to Micrografx that was acquired by Igrafx. It served this purpose well but these items have stopped being produced.
I work so much with text and need a simple flowcharting software that I can cut and paste. I often use Mind-Mapping software for this purpose but again, it just seems one step off. Well, of course, most of you would say why are you not using Visio or one of the hundred it seems like, online flowcharting software. They are all good, serve the purpose of flowcharting but not for my purpose. I want to build the map through text versus symbols. I want the symbols to give the visual feel for understanding but I don’t want to create the map by dragging symbols. I want to gather up my post-it-notes, for example, and put lines between them automagically. Then cut and paste and move the diagram around.
Recently I ran across a new program by Textograph that builds maps through the action of text. Take a look at their short video:
Textografo positions, connects and formats shapes for you as you are typing. Now, granted I do not think it will replace traditional flowcharting software. Nor, do I think it will compete with the Smart Art in MSO. However, for the person that wants to use text to build their maps, and I do not think I am alone, I believe it has some interesting possibilities.
What are your thoughts? How would you use it?