Double Feature


Today I wanted to mention two cool Office 2007 features that you might not have heard much about.


SmartArt


The first one is called SmartArt. Think of it as a way to represent information graphically with about as much work as typing a simple bulleted list.


More than a simple diagramming tool or organizational chart maker (although it does these things great as well), SmartArt is one of the features that was designed from the ground up to take advantage of the new UI. As such, it is very slick and very useful and makes you look like you have a personal graphic designer working for you.



An example SmartArt in Office 2007


My esteemed colleague Matthew Kotler is writing a series over on the Excel blog all about SmartArt, so I thought I would let you know in case you’re not following it yet. SmartArt works in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook (not just in Excel.)


You can read all about it here on the Excel blog. (In case you’re wondering, SmartArt is the official feature name for the feature code-named IGX in earlier betas.)


Blog Support in Word


The second cool feature, a new addition in Beta 2, is the introduction of blog support in Word. Word has become a first-class blog editor and publisher, with the ability to write in Word–taking advantage of all of the great features of Word–but outputting totally clean, blog-compatible HTML. And Word can handle publishing the article and pictures to many common blog servers. It even has support to let you edit your existing posts!


Joe Friend has all of the information about Word’s blog support over on his blog. The feature is in extremely early stages in Beta 2 (in particular, you UI aficionados may notice that the Ribbon UI is a little rough) but I think it’s very promising. Check it out.

Comments (26)

  1. Gabe says:

    The link for the SmartArt blog entry just gives you the first sentence or so. The correct link is http://blogs.msdn.com/excel/archive/2006/05/15/598254.aspx

  2. Is the blog publishing feature extensible? I mean: is it pluggable, or are the expected endpoints documented?

    I currently write my website using drupal, and it’d be cool if either Word could be made to talk to drupal, or if drupal could be made to understand Word.

  3. The Insider says:

    Jensen Harris discusses a new feature coming with the 2007 Microsoft Office System called SmartArt. The…

  4. Jfriend says:

    Roger,

    The Word blog feature is pluggable. More info is forthcoming. We do support the two most widely used blog APIs (metaWeblog and ATOM APIs). We should work with Drupal, but we haven’t tested. Wanna help? 🙂

  5. Adam says:

    "[SmartArt] makes you look like you have a personal graphic designer working for you."

    Only while no-one else owns a copy of Office2007. As soon as Office2007 actually gets released and everyone and their dog is creating documents with SmartArt, it’ll instantly be nothing special again.

  6. Arne says:

    I just tried the blog feature with Blogger and it worked! I didn’t expect it to so that was a welcome surprise. I host my Blogger blog on my own server and it even uploaded the new entry to that site. Another welcome surprise!

  7. mkotler says:

    Adam – The team has certainly had this concern from the beginning (and at the same time we have hoped that people like SmartArt graphics enough that this even has the potential to become a problem :-).  However, it was a specific design goal to try to avoid this issue.  There are a number of pieces at work that we hope will help.  First, just the number of different layouts of SmartArt graphics built into the product (over 80) should provide some degree of diversity.  Second, through the combination of each of these layouts with each of the different color variations, styles, and document themes you will see a lot of variety (without even including themes there are 44,688 different possibilities today).  Third, almost all aspects of a SmartArt graphic can be customized — you can change the individual look of shapes (either the formatting or the shape itself, say replacing a box with a circle or a smiley face if you want), the size and position of different shapes in the graphic, or you can complement the graphic with other shapes in the document to make it look completely different.  And last but certainly not least, the set of graphics, styles, and color variations are all extensible so we hope to see lots of new graphics and styles appear over time.  Each of these pieces should make it possible for you (and your dog) to continue to create a SmartArt graphic that looks professional and unique for a long time to come.  

  8. Phylyp says:

    Adam – you’ve got a point.

    However, I think the big gain is that the ‘professionalism’ of the art that can be created out-of-the-box is much better in Office 2007, than earlier versions (which had dorky colors, pixelated lines pre-2003, I think, etc.)

  9. Francis says:

    Neat idea, SmartArt. Sounds like it could really simplify corporate design (CD) standards.

    The question is:

    Once a company has decided on and created a set of CD themes, layouts, logos, images, and SmartArt, how do they disseminate them?

    Will there be some option like a linked style library that includes all of this (possibly located on a network share)?

  10. Adam says:

    Define "professionalism".

    IMO a "professional" look is just something that looks like it’s had a lot of time and care spent on its creation. As the bar gets raised and what is "easy" to do encompasses more, people’s definition of "professional" will change to exclude things which can be thrown together, and will focus more on that which *still* takes time and care to make look good.

    Remember in the early-mid ’90s when rendered lens flares looked professional? When they were rare.

  11. Adam says:

    Sorry, I think I might sound like I’m attacking the feature here.

    I don’t intend to – I do think that the shots look cool, and I am looking forward to playing with them.

    However, I do think that "[SmartArt] makes you look like you have a personal graphic designer working for you" will be a weak position to try and defend once Office2007 comes out.

  12. I think "SmartArt makes you look like you have a personal graphic designer working for you" is a valid statement. What other piece of software allows you to churn out such nice graphics with as much flexibility as what we’ll get in Office 2007? Matthew Kotler’s post sums it up nicely.

  13. mkotler says:

    Francis – One of the goals this release is to try to make it consistent where themes, templates, SmartArt graphics, charts, etc go(anyone playing with this in the beta please let us know if you see any inconsistencies here).  By default these objects go in Documents and Settings<user name>Application DataMicrosoftTemplates.  However, there are two registry keys that impact this location.  The first key is a user location that if it exists overides this default location (HKCU/Software/Microsoft/Office/12.0/Common/General/UserTemplates).  The second key is really meant for organizational deployments of these files and will merge with the user templates (HKCU/Software/Microsoft/Office/12.0/Common/General/SharedTemplates).  Both of these registry keys can either point to local locations (on a hard disk) or to a shared drive (e.g. a UNC share).  

  14. Gabe says:

    How about HKLM/Software/Microsoft/Office/12.0/Common/General/SharedTemplates (so the shared templates can be assigned per-machine, rather than per-user)?

  15. mkotler says:

    Gabe – Good question on HKLM.  Using HKCU supports scenarios where there are different users on the same machine that are in different workgroups.  Having it per user allows an admin to set up a different shared directory for each workgroup.  

  16. Stevbe says:

    <SmartArt works in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook (not just in Excel.)>

    Did you mean just not in Access?

  17. mkotler says:

    Since David’s blog is focused on Excel I wanted to be clear that SmartArt graphics are available in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.  You are correct that they are not available in Access as well as FrontPage, Publisher, Visio, etc.

  18. levi freeman says:

    yea i recently got a wordpress blog and few days later i hear about the office 2007 and bamm!! i can use word to publish them.  however it always sets the date to 1970’s ill have to give feedback. i think its time to download that smiley feedback thingy that i didnt want to download earlier.

    but great feature anyway. look here u can clearly see i have used word a couple of times (images) http://levi3man.wordpress.com

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