Dear Rene, also not wanting to hijack this thread :-) and I didn't want to name names, but yes Altium is exactly what I was contemplating. It has much better functionality and if I have to suffer the pain of migration why would I stick with a company that has offered so little over the years when there are new kids on the block? Not that Altium is really a new kid. And by the way, don't under estimate the value of your personal opinion, it's why ET-Times is so popular :-). Apologies for wandering.
Etmax, not to devaite too much from this thread, I feel your pain, since I am similary position. With regard to electronic schematics and PCB design, I have started to my migration to Altium, a totally new frame work (I am just a user, not a rep for them). Sometimes you have to re-evaluate where you stand and make a choice among products available on the market. By the same token, Eagle is another ACAD that has resonable pricing from entry to more advance. Just a personal opinion, here.
Isn't that always the way? I use Visio but not enough to not switch if something better comes along, but I've been using OrCAD Layout for almost 20 years and now Cadence has decided to switch everyone to something else. I've got so much time invested in footprints and experience in working around bugs that they never seem to fix, that I stopped upgrading 2 years ago (when they stopped updating Layout). If PCB design changes so much that I need to "upgrade", I will simply switch to a competitor that makes something less different than their offering.
The problem that I have found with automated programs in the past, (no, I have not tried SmartDraw), is that the automation is not set up for the way that I think. Not that the automation is wrong, but that my way of thinking is obviously way different from the way that the automation is intended to run. This does indeed cause problems! I have used Visio, but not recently, and while I found that it was able to do a lot, it was as bloated as any other microsft product, and that did make it less convenient for my use.
I noticed that in your response you say it is a good thing that you do not have to use most of the automation in SmartDraw.
We like to say that using SmartDraw without the automation is like trying to push a ride-on lawn mower. We definitely understand your frustration. Not only will you need an enormous amount of strength to push such a heavy piece of machinery, but you have to lean over and grab a steering wheel while still trying to push from the back. A ride-on lawn mower is a completely different appliance than a push lawn mower. It makes no sense to use it as one. Its so much easier to ride!
SmartDraw is designed to automatically add the connecting lines to a flowchart as you add and move shapes. Its not meant to be done manually. When you make flowcharts in SmartDraw, our connectors do the work for you. This is the same for the text. If you let SmartDraw do the work of formatting and leave the default settings as they are, your result is a chart that both looks familiar and follows the rules of visual grammar. By adhering to visual grammar (see this video to see what I mean: http://www.smartdraw.com/videos/enterprise/visual-grammar/), your flowcharts will have the proper alignment, equal spacing, and a left to right flow. These aspects makes it easy for anyone to understand. Instead of creating complex and difficult to understand flowcharts like this (http://calvinkaiser.com/sample%20documents/Writing%20for%20Clarity%20-%20Project%20Design.jpg), you can create complex and easy to understand flowcharts that look like this (http://www.smartdraw.com/enterprise/vpm/collections/printing-company/Prep_Job/index.html).
The beauty of SmartDraw is that the automation of formatting will save you time and create professionally formatted process flows in minutes. Trying to ignore, or worse, work against the automation SmartDraw provides is naturally going to lead to a poor result compared with using it the way it was designed to be used.
"The Standard version retails at $249, the Professional version retails at $559, and the Premium version retails at $999 (theyre available from Amazon for $206, $435, and $632, respectively)."
Check out someone in college or take a course yourself. I just checked my local community college, and they have discounted software for students, staff, and faculty.
Download Microsoft Visio Premium 2010 Available to: Students/Faculty/Staff $138.18
Download Microsoft Visio Professional 2010 Available to: Students/Faculty/Staff $88.95
Mail Order Microsoft Visio Professional 2010 Available to: Students/Faculty/Staff $92.01
You must be a student, faculty member, or staff member and log into the site with an ID from the college.
So, taking one course, even a one-credit course, could save you a bundle on this software alone. I don't know if taking a non-credit course counts, but if you have a student ID and a college email address, that's all you need. This particular site is accessed through the college, so you'd need to check your own local community college. This college has some distance (online) courses, but out-of-county (Anne Arundel) or out-of-state (Maryland) you'd pay more for most of the courses the courses.
There are other savings on Office and Win7 as well as on Adobe. Both Windows and Mac versions are available for some items, and there are 6-month and 12-month licenses for other software (SAS and some engineering software).
Oh, yeah: in our county, tuition is free once you reach age 60. I took an Intro to Homeland Security course last year and am going to check out two courses that start the day after my 60th birthday to see if that qualifies me for free tuition. (A retired friend of mine in a nearby county says they have no discount for seniors and just had a tuition increase!).