Jonathan Lewin, a professor of mathematics at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, was missing part of the equation. He was looking for a simple drawing program that worked seamlessly with Scientific WorkPlace, a WORD® processor that supports mathematical symbols.
While he was writing all of his text in Scientific WorkPlace*, he needed a quick and easy way to create mathematical and geometric figures. More importantly, he needed a drawing program that would accept text from Scientific WorkPlace.
"I tried several programs, but many were so difficult to use, it was exhausting," said Professor Lewin. "Others, like Adobe, just wouldn't let me cut and paste from the other program."
Professor Lewin also wanted a program that would allow him to draw figures on the fly during class. Since he didn't believe in preparing notes prior to class, he wanted something that would let him create figures and shapes on the go.
"I needed something that was simple and fast," said Professor Lewin. "Speed and fluidity is very important to me."
That's when he heard about SmartDraw. Professor Lewin was at a panel discussion of Scientific WorkPlace users. They often discussed which software worked well with the program, and which software did not.
"A colleague mentioned that SmartDraw worked really well with Scientific WorkPlace, so I decided to give it a try," said Professor Lewin.
Professor Lewin was immediately impressed with SmartDraw's ease-of-use. He was able to quickly drag and drop lines, shapes, and symbols into his drawings, with virtually no effort. Simple geometric shapes and mathematical figures were a piece of cake.
"The program has advisors that automatically tell you what each tool is for," said Professor Lewin. "SmartDraw is idiot-proof!"
Professor Lewin was also impressed with SmartDraw's online tutorials. The step-by-step guides show users how to complete more complex diagrams in a matter of minutes.
"The tutorials are fantastic," said Professor Lewin. "They tell you everything you need to know, and exactly what to do. They're so good, I could tell they would almost make it too easy."
The best part? SmartDraw allows Professor Lewin to cut and paste text from Scientific WorkPlace directly into his drawings. It also worked well with other programs he used, including Designer by Corel and PaintShop Pro by Jasc Software. He knew SmartDraw would work seamlessly with his other tools, allowing him to complete his work quickly.
Professor Lewin now uses SmartDraw for many class lectures. It allows him to create figures on the fly, just as easily as he could draw them on a chalkboard.
He uses his computer when he teaches, drawing the figures in SmartDraw and projecting everything onto a big screen. This allows his students to see what he is doing.
"Since I'm drawing everything in front of the class as I go, it's very important for me to have a fluid system," said Professor Lewin. "SmartDraw lets me draw these figures in lightning speed, without any effort. That's why I love it!"
Professor Lewin records all of his lectures from his computer, copies them onto CDs into an audio/visual file, and gives each student a copy. This allows his students to watch a "movie" of his lecture, showing the figures as he draws them.
"The fact that I can record my work with SmartDraw and pass copies out to the students is a further testament to its ease-of-use," said Professor Lewin. "I consider myself a very ignorant and unskilled user, but look what I can do."
The professor was also impressed with SmartDraw's flowcharting capabilities. He came across that aspect of the program while finishing up his book, "Interactive Introduction to Mathematical Analysis," Cambridge Press, 2003. He needed a way to make a flowchart, illustrating the interdependence of all of the chapters in his book.
"I was about to spend $300 on another program, then realized I could draw the flowchart in SmartDraw," said Professor Lewin. "It worked beautifully."
Whether drawing flowcharts or geometric figures, Professor Lewin emphasizes that the best thing about SmartDraw is its user-friendliness.
"I always have the feeling, while using SmartDraw, that whoever wrote the program really wanted me to have an easy time learning how to get the best out of the product," said Professor Lewin. "This is where the product stands alone."
*Scientific WorkPlace is a product of MacKichan Software Inc.