Top 10 Google Apps for Work extensions to replace MS Office

Posted on by Jacob Shumway

Try as it might, even Google can’t do everything perfectly. While Google Apps for Work has become the productivity suite of choice for over five million businesses, including Lucid Software, it has yet to match the intricate functionality of its desktop forerunners, some of which enjoy as much as a 25-year head start on their cloud-based replacements.

Top 10 Google Apps for Work extensions to replace MS Office

Believe it or not, the first version of Microsoft Word appeared in 1983 as Multi-Tool Word for the now-obsolete Xenix operating system.

For instance, you can’t make columns in Google Docs. You can’t make an object teeter or swivel in Google Slides as you can in PowerPoint. Google Drawings’ shape library, while pleasant, is a bit short on technical forms.

Still, deficiencies like these don’t have to be deal breakers. Here are our top ten picks for must-have extensions, apps, and add-ons that complement the power of Google Apps for Work with useful and innovative features:

UberConference restores the sensation of collaboration

The makers of UberConference, an app that can open a conference call with all the other editors in a Google doc, might not have reinvented the wheel, but they have made collaboration a lot smoother. You’ve probably found that the more people working on a single Google doc at a time, the more chaotic it becomes. This app lets you open a video or audio call with the other users in order to sidestep the problem of editing over one another. It’s also a great standalone conference call platform, with an unprecedented array of options, including screen sharing, one-on-one chatting with other callers, and PIN-free entry mid-call.

Grammarly we roll along ♫

That’s right, the word grammar is now an adverb. If you’re not sure what that means, this is the app for you. Because its algorithms are designed to take context clues into account, this grammar and spelling checker is superior to Microsoft’s proofing tools: it identifies not only misspelled but also misused words. Best of all, it works anywhere you type online.

Checker Plus for Gmail gives you checkmate in email management

Tired of staring at your empty inbox, waiting for an important email? Instead of keeping that extra tab open 24/7, install Checker Plus to start reading and listening to emails instantly just by clicking the icon in your browser. With customizable visual and auditory cues to let you know when you receive new emails, you’re sure to stay up-to-date. If you have multiple accounts, try color-coding it to indicate which email account received a message.

Lucidpress lets you publish without Publisher

With the advent of cloud technologies, people now are more likely to look for information online rather than in print. What better way to publish in the cloud than to prepare those documents in the cloud as well? Lucidpress, an online publication software, is ideal for generating and sharing documents such as flyers, magazines, newsletters, and lesson plans, whether you intend to print them or post them on your Twitter account. then share or publish them in print or online. Its wide variety of professional templates coupled with the intuitive drag-and-drop interface make this a great tool for both seasoned designers and first-time self-publishers.

Lucidchart brings your visual impulses to life

If there were a Miss World or Mr. Universe for diagrams, chances are the winners would come from Lucidchart, an online diagramming application that is not only a replacement for Microsoft Visio but also a step up in terms of ease and elegance. In Lucidchart, simply drag and drop to create professional-looking charts and diagrams, including flowcharts, wireframes, mockups, and more. Edit them in real time with others on your team. Then, with the extension for Google Apps, place those graphics directly into Google Docs. You can also create and share Lucidchart files without leaving Google Drive.

Powtoon Presentations is your one-stop animation destination

While Google Slides doesn’t currently support add-ons, PowerPoint isn’t the only option for those in need of more robust presentation software. This cloud-based video and presentation software is not a watered-down Powerpoint; rather, it’s a whole new take on how communication should engage its audience. For instance, its standard library of cartoon people strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and fun that will keep viewers’ eyes glued to the screen.

Template Gallery enhances your personal and professional potential

If you prefer your wealth and fortune to come easily, possibly on a silver platter, this add-on is for you. Instead of starting from scratch, you’ll have access to a variety of easily customizable templates ranging from personal finance to resumes and more. You’ll be astonished at the mileage these templates get out of the seemingly simple Google Sheets and Docs features—install it in both for maximum convenience.

Table of Contents skips right to the good parts

This Google Docs add-on automatically creates a table of contents that corresponds with the heading text throughout the document, allowing you to jump to relevant portions quickly. You have two options: you can either install this app today, or you can continue to meander through long documents aimlessly by employing a combination of mouse-clicking, slider-dragging, key-pressing, wheel-rolling, and eye-rolling, while you helplessly try to spot the section you need before it whizzes past. I’ll leave it up to you.

Power Tools simplifies and intensifies data management

It was hard enough to organize a messy set of data without facing the necessary load time associated with cloud-based Google Sheets—but this digital toolbox makes it all worth it. Splitting cells, changing text case, and shuffling values are just a few of the functions made easier (or possible) with Power Tools’ handy one-click toolbar.

Office Editing for Docs, Sheets, and Slides brings out your SaaSy side

I debated about not including this one, as it seems so obvious, but this app can really make a difference when it comes to adopting software as a service (SaaS) as a way of life. In short, this app will automatically open Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files that you drag into your browser, with Docs, Sheets, and Slides respectively. You can then edit and save them, either in their native Microsoft formats or their Google counterparts.

While I hope you found this list useful, finding additional extensions suited to your needs is easy. Just visit the Chrome web store, or click “Get add-ons” under the “Add-ons” menu found in Google Sheets, Drive, and Docs.

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Introducing presentation mode: a better way to present your diagrams

Posted on by eliza

Over the past year, our team discovered something: Lucidchart users don’t always show off their diagrams within Lucidchart. Instead, they typically export documents as PNG or JPG files, add them to Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, and present to their supervisor or co-workers.

While we’re pleased that our export options are so popular, we want to save people those extra steps. After surveying users, we saw a need to make Lucidchart itself a great presentation tool. That’s why we developed our brand new presentation mode.

Presentation mode lets you organize your diagrams into slides, then show them off in fullscreen mode, zoom in and out, and easily navigate between them. Getting started is simple:

1. Open the presentation panel and click “+ Slide”.

2. Drag your cursor to select which part of the diagram you want to include in your slide.

3. Repeat until you’ve created enough slides for your presentation.

First_Frame.JPG

We’ve also added some special features. Highlighting allows you to light up specific sections of your diagram, while clicking the gear icon lets you set timing and layer options for your slides.

Once you’ve selected your slides, all you need to do is click “Present” at the top of the editor. You’ll be giving professional presentations in no time, right in Lucidchart. Check out our tutorial on presentation mode to learn more, and please let us know what you think!

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Open OmniGraffle files free with our .graffle viewer

Posted on by eliza

Do you need a quick way to open OmniGraffle documents? Try Lucidchart’s free OmniGraffle (.graffle) file viewer for Chrome and Firefox! You’ll be able to view files from your desktop, email, and the web.

free OmniGraffle file viewer

Open .graffle or .graffle.zip files by dragging and dropping into the viewer.

 

How to use the free OmniGraffle viewer

The viewer runs right in the web browser, so you don’t have to download anything. Here’s how it works:

  1. Install the Google Chrome or Firefox extension (coming soon) in your web browser.
  2. Once it’s installed, a Lucidchart logo will appear on your toolbar (to the right of the address bar).
  3. The next time you need to open an OmniGraffle file, click the icon and follow the instructions.

Anyone with the extension can view OmniGraffle files instantly—no pricey OmniGraffle license required. It’s compatible with files created in both OmniGraffle 6 and OmniGraffle Pro 6. To edit, save, or export the document to another file format, just sign up for a free Lucidchart trial.

Additional viewer functionality

The OmniGraffle file viewer opens both local and online files. So you can choose to upload a file from your computer, or to right-click a file on the web and open with Lucidchart. Those with Gmail accounts will be able to open .graffle files directly in Gmail by right-clicking the attachment and selecting “Open in Lucidchart”.

The viewer uses the same process to open online OmniGraffle documents outside of Gmail; simply right-click the file hyperlink to see its contents. And users can just as easily view diagrams on their phones and tablets as they can on their laptops. We hope you get plenty of value from the .graffle viewer. As always, happy diagramming!

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Announcing OmniGraffle (.graffle) file import

Posted on by Emily Bell

We’re excited to offer free OmniGraffle file import to Lucidchart users! Although OmniGraffle is a common desktop diagramming tool, no other online diagramming app currently offers import of OmniGraffle files.

You don’t have to own a Mac—or even an OmniGraffle license—to try it out. Simply upload an OmniGraffle file to see its content. If you’d like to edit the document, sign up for a free trial of a premium Lucidchart account. Whether you’re a former OmniGraffle user or you just work with OmniGraffle files, we think you’ll find this feature very convenient.

Our OmniGraffle import is simple to use. You can access it two ways:

1. From the documents page, select the Import button and choose OmniGraffle.

2. From the editor, select File > Import, and then choose OmniGraffle.

In no time at all, you’ll be editing your OmniGraffle (.graffle) files online with Lucidchart’s collaboration-friendly software. Since our program is completely web-based, it’s the perfect OmniGraffle alternative for those who work with both Mac and PC.

This feature is still in beta; feel free to send us your feedback on it. We’d love to know how we can improve. We have more OmniGraffle-related features on the way, so stay tuned.

If you don’t have a Lucidchart account yet, sign up free now to try OmniGraffle import for yourself!

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What diagram should I use? Take the quiz!

Posted on by Emily Bell

At Lucidchart, we’re positive that diagramming can help with any professional problem, no matter what industry you’re in. But sometimes the possibilities are overwhelming. How do you map out a problem—or a solution—if you’re not even sure what kind of diagram you should use?

We’ve whipped up a useful (and slightly silly) quiz to help you choose a diagram. Lucidchart has a large library of diagram choices, some of which you’ve probably never heard of. Find out which diagram is most useful to you by taking this short quiz, then explore that shape library in Lucidchart.

Let us know what your results are—did we get it right? Or is there a diagram type that you think everyone should know about? Tell us in the comments.

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Create an org chart

Posted on by Emily Bell

Let’s say you need to create an org chart. You know they have infinite uses—organization charts can help you show company hierarchy, illustrate a family tree, or capture the relationships between species—but you’re not sure how to get started.

Luckily for you, Lucidchart makes it easy, just like any other diagramming task. Sign up free if you don’t already have an  account. Then read on for step-by-step instructions on making an organizational chart with our software.

Continue reading →

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How to make a site map

Posted on by eliza

If you build or market websites, you should know how to make a site map. But many web professionals know nothing about site maps—primarily because there aren’t many tools that make site maps. So we’re happy to announce a new addition to Lucidchart: a free, easy-to-use sitemap maker. Instead of painstakingly building diagrams by hand, you can produce a beautiful finished document in a few minutes.

How to get started

  • First, sign up for a free account.
  • Open a new Lucidchart document and click “More Shapes”, then turn on the site map shape library.
  • Drag and drop shapes from the toolbox to the canvas, then rearrange them as necessary. Additional options can be accessed from the pop-up context panel.

If you’d like to publish the document or collaborate in real-time with others, just click “Share” from the menu bar.

Site mapping features in Lucidchart

We’ve never had a dedicated site map tool before—instead, folks would use the org chart or flowchart shape libraries to build out basic maps. It worked well enough. But with the recent changes, users can build structured, interactive site maps faster than ever before. Nearly all of our site map features are contained within the handy context panel, which allows you to:

  • Choose from 3 dozen sitemap shapes that encompass nearly every website element
  • Drag and release to automatically structure parent-child relationships
  • Instantly change the layout type without losing information
  • Clean up the layout with a single click
  • Quickly add a URL to any sitemap element
  • Switch shapes with the click of a button

We hope you enjoy the new sitemap tool! As this is a new feature, we welcome your honest feedback—sound off in the comments.

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How to use landscape design software

Posted on by Charly Kuecks

Using online landscaping software can save you upfront costs, spark your creativity, and help you figure out the nuts and bolts of landscape design. Whether you’re renovating your backyard or figuring out whether that fancy potted plant will fit through your doorway, it can be difficult to go from an initial idea to a polished end result. For a quick solution to your landscaping design needs, try our free landscape template. How to use landscape design software Click to open a Lucidchart landscape design template. Then edit and share!

This post will teach you how to use Lucidchart’s editor to build basic landscape design sketches. You can also import SVGs and other image files for a customized look.  Continue reading →

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