Know where you software is made. Support Ukraine’s Software Developers.
As the War in Ukraine rages on, software companies founded in Ukraine continue to deliver value. I recently received updates to tools I use regularly and thought it would perhaps prove helpful to make Serious Insights readers aware of these companies with new reviews. I reviewed Spark’s products previously on iPhone Life Magazine and included CS Odessa’s MindMap in a Serious Insights Market Report on mind mapping.
I use Readdle’s Spark as my primary e-mail client on my iPhone and iPad. It supports quick management of incoming messaging, remembering the places that similar messages were filed, and taking that folder to the top of the list. For those who use Spark in an enterprise setting, it supports backchannel chat or collaborative authoring—and for support teams and sales, it also includes templates.
A Spark log-in brings synchronization of content, like signatures, across devices.
I’m not a big fan of the way Spark handles folders through preferences, so on my Mac I use Apple Mail. Mail also supports sorting messages by date which is not a Spark feature.
But again, beyond those quirks, I find Spark an excellent mobile companion. A few tweaks on the desktop side and it would become my e-mail client of choice there as well.
Spark remains a free download. And it appears Spark for Windows is on its way.
Readdle also makes PDF Expert, PDF Converter, and Scanner Pro for iOS and iPad OS.
Softornio Suite—The Universal License
As much as Apple users live in a “just use it” world, Apple’s OS and devices have always shipped with a few quirks that require little utilities to fix. One of those is pushing files to an iOS device from a desktop. Softornio created Waltr Pro. Drop a file into local storage or convert it to iTunes. iCloud and Apple Music make Waltr less essential than it was before the cloud, but for those without Apple’s services, it remains a useful tool for making content mobile—and local—just you and your devices.
Making Ring Tones is not a feature Apple spent much time engineering for ease. Softornio offers iRingg, which converts audio files to ring tones. But it doesn’t stop there. Owners can include sounds, edit the volume on the edges of their clips, and even record their voice over the clip to enhance the meaning, as in: “Hey Dan, pick up the phone now!”
If you ever wanted to download and store a YouTube video locally, Softorino YouTube Converter 2 brings convivence and simplicity. Search directly from within the app, find a video, add it to the queue, set the resolution and file type, select a destination (computer, phone, or Apple Music) and click “Convert & Transfer.” That’s it. You don’t need a browser or a browser plug-in. I point videos to my downloads folder for later redistribution.
Folder Colorize for Mac is just fun. It reminds me of all the goofy ways I decorated my old Mac screens under various versions of the Mac OS. It doesn’t just bring color, it puts icons atop the color, which is fun, but it can also visually differentiate folders for easier recognition when organizing content.
The Softorino Universal License allows access to all of their tools, including the PC utilities. Most of the other tools are little apps that help PCs work more efficiently including Memory Optimize 2, Folder Colorizer 2, Volume Concierge 2, and Task ForceQuit 2. All of these tools do exactly what their name implies—and with a 2, ideally, better than the initial version.
All of the Softornio apps work on the Mac and on the PC except for the PC-specific utilities noted above. A universal license runs about $35 a year. Purchases are managed by FastSpring.
CS Odessa ConceptDraw Office
ConceptDraw Office incorporates Diagram, MindMap and Project into a single $499 license. The current version of ConceptDraw office is 8.
All the CS Odessa ConceptDraw Office apps run on Macs or PCs. A ConceptDraw store accompanies Office which automates updates to products and provides access to free solution templates and image libraries, and an interface to purchase licensed solutions.
ConceptDraw Diagram ($199) brings powerful drawing tools to the Mac and PC, along with rich libraries of solutions to and graphics to illustrate everything from network diagrams and office layouts, to infographics and flowcharts. High-quality icons, symbols, and graphics eliminate the need to search the web for supporting images.
The drawing features include a wealth of very precise controls for size, position, lines, and edges. The “operations” features make it easy to turn several shapes placed together into a continuous vector via subtract, combine and other operations.
CS Odessa clearly competes with Microsoft Visio. Diagram brings diagramming and layout to the Mac, including the ability to save files in Visio format.
On another Microsoft front, multiple pages in Diagram equate to a presentation, and those pages can be exported to Microsoft PowerPoint.
Diagram also offers dashboards via its Live Objects technology that links graphics to live data sources.
My biggest issue as a regular Diagram user is its unique approach to selecting objects and text. Users must select text or image selection or ConceptDraw starts dropping extra objects, that then require removal. While Adobe products also force the user to decide if they are selecting text or an object, but the automatic recognition of the type of object and selecting the right mode would improve my overall satisfaction with Diagram.
Most cross-platform tools have their quirks, and Diagram is no different. But powerful software arises from the vision of its developers, a particular point of view about how to accomplish tasks, and then over the years, users influence direction. ConceptDraw will make creating graphics easier, and at a lower lifetime cost than most subscription-based tools (such as OmniGraffle which runs $124.99 annually for a subscription).
My initial introduction to ConceptDraw came via their mind mapping tool when I was writing a report on the mind mapping market. MindMap ($199) is a simpler, more straightforward tool than ConceptDraw, and it should be. Rather than trying to anticipate all types of diagrams, MindMap does just one thing…mind map. It offers a basic UI that puts the map forward, and shortcuts to facilitate fluid map creation.
Over 20 built-in themes keep the mind maps interesting, which is what should happen with a mind map. Go beyond boxy nodes with icons and full control over color and style.
As is the trend, beyond mind maps, the CS Odessa brainstorming tool also supports project management, with dates and milestones attached to nodes. That means it does actually do something other than mind map, as nodes can be filtered via the data filter feature. One-click pushes critical tasks, tasks in progress, and overdue tasks, among other states, to the front, emphasizing whatever the user wants to focus on at the moment.
Minds also make become the starting point for a presentation, so MindMap files may also be exported as a presentation.
The tool supports basic mind mapping, content insertion (images, audio, video, etc.), and icons.
To take project management to the next level, MindMap passes task-based maps directly to the company’s Project tool with one click.
The final piece of CS Odessa’s ConceptDraw Office comes in Project ($299, $399 when bundled with MindMap), a comprehensive project management tool. Project supports Gantt Charts and dependencies, resource allocation across projects, and an integrated reporting system.
Support the Developers in Ukraine
If you are in the market for drawing, Mac or PC utilities or a new e-mail client, please consider applications developed in Ukraine. All of these products represent high-quality work and bring value to content creation, information management, or communication workflows.
Readdle Spark is a free Download. CS Odessa and Softorino provided review licenses for their products. Serious Insights was not compensated for this post.
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