Create an organization chart without pain.

I have, on many occasions, attempted to create organization charts in Word and PowerPoint. Every time the process ends in partial to total failure. Crud creeps into the chart and objects start misbehaving. Nothing ever seems to work as expected. Now my Word organization chart just flashes 20 times whenever I move it into view. Try to make a change to an existing chart and all those neatly organized lines and boxes get whacked again.

I have heard Visio does organization charts but I don't want to invest more money if it's just a UI plastered in the same engine that Word and PowerPoint use. Anyone have a recommendation for a reliable and dependable organization chart tool that treats objects as well as the old MacDraw application did?

Kevin
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zorvek (Kevin Jones)ConsultantAsked:
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Anne TroyEast Coast ManagerCommented:
Kev: You're using an org chart, yes? Or are you using Drawing tools?

How many items are in your org chart?
Anne TroyEast Coast ManagerCommented:
Sorry... I mean org chart like Insert-->Object, org chart.

Also, version?
zorvek (Kevin Jones)ConsultantAuthor Commented:
I always start by choosing Insert->Picture->Organization Chart if in Word or PowerPoint.

I do not use the general purpose drawing tools but each time wish I had.

I have assumed all along that some bright person at Microsoft created the organization chart tool because he or she knew that an organization chart had special characteristics versus a collection of rectangles and connectors. It always seems to start out that way but, after some number of edits, the objects start acting erratically. This has been my experience for many years on many different systems so it's not my current installation.

Kevin
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Anne TroyEast Coast ManagerCommented:
Okay. The best suggestion that I can give you...

When you are in the org chart software itself, SAVE THE FILE as an org chart file, and always work from it instead of through the application in which it's inserted.
zorvek (Kevin Jones)ConsultantAuthor Commented:
But that's my point...I don't have an organization chart application. All I have is Word and PowerPoint. I always start by choosing Insert->Picture->Organization Chart in Word or PowerPoint. I have heard Visio does organization charts but I don't want to invest more money if it's just a UI plastered in the same engine that Word and PowerPoint use.

Kevin
Anne TroyEast Coast ManagerCommented:
What version, please?

Yes, Visio does. Is it worth all the money? No. It's hard too. Maybe not AS hard, but there's so much more to Visio's org charts...
Anne TroyEast Coast ManagerCommented:
Okay. It's still there....

Open your org chart. Hit File (from Orgchart's menu), Save copy as....

Then go double-click that file. You DO have orgchart, but it looks like they may have buried it in DLL or something. I swear orgchart.exe was the executable, but I dont' see it either anymore.

When you double-click it, you suddenly find your orgchart proggy
zorvek (Kevin Jones)ConsultantAuthor Commented:
I am working with Office 2000, 2002, and 2003. Maybe the right answer is to just use boxes and connector lines in a normal drawing space. I never really liked what the organization chart tool did with auto-formatting anyway. Some days I really miss my Mac - this is one area where the Mac apps really excelled.

In Word 2002 I don't have an organization chart menu. A toolbar appears but there is no Save As in any of the organization chart toolbar menus. I couldn't find an organization chart menu in the Customize dialog box either.

Kevin
Anne TroyEast Coast ManagerCommented:
When you insert or double-click an existing org chart, you don't have a File menu?

I tested it in 2003.

Anyway, please. If you use the drawing tools, heed my warnings, Kev. Particularly the second-last bullet.

http://www.officearticles.com/misc/drawing_tools_in_microsoft_office.htm

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Patrick MatthewsCommented:
Kevin,

Visio does org charts, but to be honest I never tried it: I've just used Visio for flow charts and for general purpose
"drawing".  (For complicated graphics, I tend to feel more comfortble in Visio than, say, PowerPoint).

Visio org charts can come out looking very cool, but something tells me they are a pain to work with.

Patrick
zorvek (Kevin Jones)ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Ann/Patrick,

Bottom line: anything to do with graphics that comes out of Bill's office sucks the big one. I started on Apples and helped build the Lisa and Mac. These platforms were and still are far superior when it comes to the basic art of creating, manipulating, and storing object-based graphics. I have no idea why this is because the Windows OS provides basically the same set of graphic routines as the Mac OS but, for some reason, Windows application developers in general and the Office developers specifically just never put the effort in to making world-class object-based graphics tools.

Since the last Mac I bought is now so cold I can store my groceries in it (I really don't do graphics on a regular basis - this is for my wife, Roz) I am forced to use my Windows box. Given the garbage with which I am forced to use (and after getting not very far with this question) I chose to avoid anything to do with organization charts and stuck with only the purest of graphic objects. I built a reasonable "org" chart using boxes, lines, and text. It behaves reasonably well. It still has fits every now and then and I have to whack at it to stop it from convulsing. Regular saves and a lot of patience have gotten my wife to a point where she can add an "org" to her presentations. But I cringe every time she says she has fired (they call her the Rozinator at work) or hired someone because I know what's coming.

It's days like this that I really miss my Mac.

Kevin
Patrick MatthewsCommented:
I feel your pain, Kevin :)

FWIW, Visio started out as an independent app; I think Microsoft bought it about four years ago or so.  I like using Visio 2000
for flow charts, and anytime I need a PowerPoint grpahic that is the least bit busy I tend to build it in Visio (I hate PowerPoints
drawing "tools" and environment).

Patrick
zorvek (Kevin Jones)ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Interesting you feel that way about PowerPoint. It seems to be the black sheep of the Office family. Access has it's problems but I can live with them. But PowerPoint is just awful in so many ways. An old friend of mine has been managing the PowerPoint development group for many years here in the Bay Area and I am just about ready to bust his chops about it now that I have to help my wife with all of her presentations.

Kevin
Anne TroyEast Coast ManagerCommented:
LOL, Kev!!
Patrick MatthewsCommented:
Kevin,

To be fair, my biggest peeve with PowerPoint is *not* the app itself--it's whe way people use it.
I regularly see people producing slides with *paragraphs* of text on them--just asinine stuff for
what is supposed to be a presentation.

That being said, I find PowerPoint's drawing capabilities to be light years behind Visio's.  I am far
from a sophisticated graphic designer, but I've made some cool stuff in Visio, stuff that would give
me fits if I tried to do it in PowerPoint.

As for Access, I think it's a reasonably good app.  It's biggest problem, IMHO, is that it came late
to the VBA party, and thus got saddled with a lousy object model.  But, as a platform for simple,
single-user database systems, it's more than adequate.  It's even OK as a front-end for more stable
DB engines, like SQL Server, whcih for all their benefits lack a nice front-end GUI.

Patrick
zorvek (Kevin Jones)ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Patrick,

>It's even OK as a front-end for more stable DB engines, like SQL Server, which for all their benefits lack a nice front-end GUI.
I have learned over the years to just build my front-ends in VB versus trying to get the Access UI to do what I want.

The problems with PowerPoint go beyond the graphics and paragraph handling. There are things that I just find counter-intuitive. I've been doing UI design for years and, although I have many issues with Windows and the Office apps in general, I find PowerPoint to be at the top of the complaint list. Sure, it works and there isn't anything else better, but that doesn't mean I can't say it sucks. Just my opinion.

Kevin
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