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Microsoft Visio

Visio is a diagramming and vector graphics application that is part of the Microsoft Office family that allows the user to create diagrams for organizational and planning purposes. The Premium edition has additional templates for more advanced diagrams and layouts, as well as capabilities intended to make it easy for users to connect their diagrams to data sources and to display their data graphically, as well as intelligent rules, validation, subprocess (diagram breakdown). one-step connectivity with Excel data, information rights management (IRM) protection for Visio files, modernized shapes for office layout, detailed shapes for site and floor plans, modern shapes for home plans, and IEEE compliant shapes for electrical diagrams.

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Meetings to discuss business process can waste time, and often do .  The meeting's dialog can get confusing when participants have different professional perspectives and backgrounds.  A jointly-developed process picture helps wade through the confusing dialog.
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Expert Comment

by:JCincy
Comment Utility
Pictures are powerful.

But many times people believe a "digital slide" with a paragraph of tiny text equals a picture. And if they read the text to you, it is even more meaningful. Sigh.
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LVL 15

Expert Comment

by:Eric AKA Netminder
Comment Utility
JCincy,

if they read the text to you

One of the things that drives me up a wall is when someone creates a PowerPoint and then, when presenting it, reads it to me. What parts of my day are not spent writing are spent reading (unless my bride has tasks that need accomplishing) so I'm pretty good at it, so having someone read to me, especially in a setting in which there's supposed to be a discussion of the issues presented in the PowerPoint, is almost insulting.

ep
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Veeam and MySQL: How to Perform Backup & Recovery
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Veeam and MySQL: How to Perform Backup & Recovery

MySQL and the MariaDB variant are among the most used databases in Linux environments, and many critical applications support their data on them. Watch this recorded webinar to find out how Veeam Backup & Replication allows you to get consistent backups of MySQL databases.

Periodically someone asks me whether there’s a way to automatically convert all of the pages in a Visio drawing to PowerPoint slides. There have even been a few times when I’ve wanted to do that myself but I never really had enough incentive to figure out the PowerPoint side of it.

One of the reasons I hadn't bothered to solve this problem is built into Visio: if your goal is merely to present Visio drawing pages to an audience, creating PowerPoint slides may be overkill. To present Visio pages, you can just use Visio’s full screen mode by pressing F5 and then navigating from page to page using the arrow keys or PageUp and PageDown.

A recent question here on EE revived my interest in a PowerPoint solution, however, and in one of those wonderful coincidences that sometimes happen, I stumbled across part of the answer while looking for something else!

I was rummaging in the Visio 2007 Software Development Kit (SDK) looking for a way to automate the creation of the very sophisticated time lines Visio can produce (more about that another time…). I did find a potential solution for that problem, but more relevant here, I also found a long-forgotten code sample to create one PowerPoint slide from one Visio page.

Between the PowerPoint code in the sample and the PowerPoint macro recorder -- don’t ever forget about this incredibly useful tool when you’re trying to write code for any Microsoft Office application -- I developed a working solution that saves …
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Book Review: Using Microsoft Visio 2010 by Chris Roth

Using Visio 2010 book coverDisclaimer: The author of Using Visio 2010 is a friend and fellow Visio MVP.

Whether you’re new to Visio or are upgrading to Visio 2010 from a previous version, you will find a lot to like in Using Visio 2010. A big part of the reason is that the author, Chris Roth, has been working with Visio almost since the beginning. He started working for Visio Corporation as a college intern, well before the company’s acquisition by Microsoft, so his knowledge extends to the roots of the product. In fact, he designed some of the smart shapes that are still part of the stencils in Visio 2010 nearly twenty years later. The depth of his knowledge is evident throughout this easy-to-read book.

Chris starts his book with an excellent overview of what Visio is and what it can do. He's also clear about the things it doesn't do well, which is very helpful. If you are familiar with previous versions of Visio, you’ll appreciate the 3+ page summary of the new features and capabilities of Visio 2010 that is part of Chapter 1, along with the numerous places where the author provides step-by-step examples of their use.

There are lots of creative examples throughout the book, many of which revolve around variations on several …
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The ability to add structure to Visio diagrams using containers, lists and callouts is one of my favorite features in Visio 2010. In this article we’ll examine lists. We’ll explore containers and callouts in separate articles.

Prior to reading this article, it would help to read my article about Containers, because a list is actually just a special type of container.

What is a Visio 2010 List?

A list is a type of container that maintains objects in ordered sequence, just like you might do with a numbered list in Word. The difference is that a Visio list typically contains shapes rather than words, phrases or sentences.

When you drop a shape into a Visio 2010 list, it takes a specific place before, between, or after existing shapes. The best part is that this isn’t just a visual convention -- each list member actually knows its relative position in the list. You can use a shape’s ordinal position data in Visio macros, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) or other programs to build interesting applications.

Just as a shape knows its position in a list, every Visio 2010 list knows how many shapes it contains, which can also be useful when building a Visio application.

Example 1

Let’s start with a simple example to illustrate the concept: we’ll build a list that shows the …
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The ability to add structure to Visio diagrams using containers, lists and callouts is one of my favorite features in Visio 2010. In this article we’ll examine containers. We’ll explore lists and callouts in separate articles.

What is a Visio 2010 Container?

At the risk of stating the obvious, a container is an object that can contain other objects! To experienced Visio users that might sound like a group, however, there are significant differences.

Groups

To understand the differences quickly, let’s create a group that includes multiple shapes. To create the group: drop four shapes on the page; select all of them; right-click and then select Group>Group. The image below illustrates a group comprising four flowchart shapes.
 group 1Now try three things:

1) Resize the group by stretching it to the right… what happens to the contained shapes? Answer: They resize also, as shown below. This might be what you want – but often it is not.
 group 2
2) Remove one of the shapes from the group by dragging it out… is it outside the group? Answer: Visually, yes, but actually, no. It is still part of the group. For example, if you move the group, the external shape will move with it.
 group 3
3) Add a label to the group. Is it easy to do? Is it in a useful place? Is it easy to relocate or format? Answer:
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The ability to add structure to Visio diagrams using containers, lists and callouts is one of my favorite features in Visio 2010. In this article I’ll describe a mashup of containers and lists that meet a real-world need.

Prior to reading this article, it would help to read my previous articles on containers and lists.

The Need

My goal is to create a seating chart for an auditorium or theater. I would like the diagram to be sufficiently flexible that I can move seats and rows around to reconfigure the auditorium or to represent a different theater. But more than that, when I move seats and rows, I want Visio to do all of the work of numbering and renumbering the seats and rows.

Prior to Visio 2010, it would have required writing a program to number and renumber something as complex as the collection of seats and rows in a theater. However, with Visio 2010, we can build a complete solution using three elements: containers and lists, shape data, and a handful of ShapeSheet formulas.

Solution Component 1: Containers and Lists

The key to building our solution is to remember that a list is a special type of container that maintains its members in a specific sequence. This property is the perfect basis for creating numbered rows and seats in a theater. Consequently, it seems that all we should need to do is to create two lists:
The first list will represent a section of theater seats and will contain multiple rows (a “list of rows”, if you will).
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LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:WaterStreet
Comment Utility
Voted Yes, above
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LVL 31

Author Comment

by:Scott Helmers
Comment Utility
Thanks, WaterStreet.
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A recent Visio zone question asked how to use the data in an Excel file to create a Visio Gantt chart -- and then to dynamically update the Gantt chart.

The good news is that the Viso Gantt Chart wizard can be automated. The bad news is that there doesn't appear to be a simple, direct way to accomplish the automatic updates.

However, the four steps described in this article will allow you to create an updated Gantt chart whenever you’d like and to do so with a single command!

Overview

The method I'm proposing in this article involves four steps that are summarized here and explained in more detail below:
Create a new Gantt chart document
Run the Gantt Chart Import Wizard manually to create a Gantt chart from your Excel data (this step is necessary to establish the import parameters that will be used in step 4)
Change the data in your Excel file
Recreate your Gantt chart by running the Gantt Chart Import Wizard with a single command

In preparation for using the method described here, review this page in the Visio 2007 help text:
   http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/visio/HP010303431033.aspx
Click either the + sign or the text "Command arguments for Gantt charts" to open a detailed description of the command line parameters for the Gantt Chart Wizard.

The remainder of this article provides detailed instructions for the steps above.

Step 1 -- Create a new Gantt chart document

With Visio running, use the appropriate selection from Visio’s File menu:
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Mark Wills
Comment Utility
Good article Scott, thanks, have filed this away for next month's Gantt updates :)
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LVL 93

Administrative Comment

by:Patrick Matthews
Comment Utility
scott,

Upon review, the Page Editors have selected this article for Editors' Choice, EE's top honor for articles.

Thanks for sharing this great work with us!

matthewspatrick
Page Editor
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Have you ever created a custom Visio stencil – a collection of your own unique master shapes – and then created a drawing by dragging masters onto the drawing page? Have you then made changes to the stencil master and wondered why the shapes on the drawing page didn’t change?  

Shouldn’t they? Aren’t the instances linked to the master??

The answer is yes – and no.

A bit of Visio terminology before we begin:
Master: an object in a Visio stencil
Shape: an object on a Visio drawing page (shapes are often created by dragging masters onto a drawing page; they can also be created in other ways but we’re not concerned with those in this article)
Stencil: a collection of Visio masters (notice that a stencil contains masters not shapes)
Document Stencil: a special stencil that contains masters for the shapes contained in a Visio drawing
The mystery behind why changing the properties of a master does not update all of its derivative shapes lies in the existence of the document stencil, and is compounded by the fact that the document stencil is hidden by default whenever you start Visio. Consequently, many people aren’t aware that it even exists, let alone know of the critical role it plays when you want to change one master and have all instances inherit the changes.

Here’s what happens when you drag and drop in Visio...

When you drag a master from a stencil …
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Expert Comment

by:mranders
Comment Utility
Great stuff! Very helpful!
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David Parker’s latest book, Microsoft Visio 2010: Business Process Diagramming and Validation, will give you the tools to turn flowcharts and other business diagrams into valuable, data-driven corporate assets. Armed with the knowledge you’ll gain from this detailed look behind the scenes of Visio 2010, you’ll be able to validate drawings in totally new ways.

book cover
After digesting the text and code samples in this book, you will be able to build a workflow diagram, or a network map, or even an office layout that is self-checking to a very significant degree. For example, you’ll be able to verify the integrity of the connections in the drawing and then confirm that the diagram meets any other logical or semantic rules required by your organization.

Parker describes and provides programming examples for all of the relevant aspects of both the Visio object model and the ShapeSheet, the combination of which give Visio its unique qualities and power. Although Parker’s focus is on business process diagrams as the title of the book suggests, you will be able to use his detailed knowledge -- knowledge that clearly comes from first-hand research and programming, by the way -- to build validation rule sets for any type of Visio diagram.

The target audience for this book is not casual Visio users, by the way. The focus is much more about writing code to take advantage of Visio 2010’s validation rules than merely explaining how to use them. In fact, …
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Scott A. Helmers
Partner, Harvard Computing Group
Microsoft Visio MVP

Background

Microsoft has added more enhancements and new features to Visio 2010 than to any release since they purchased the Visio product line in 2000. In addition, the community of developers building solutions on the Visio platform has continued to grow.

One of the best and most tightly integrated add-ins for Visio 2010 that I've seen is analystView from Global 360 (www.global360.com). analystView allows you to run full-scale simulations of BPMN processes - right inside Visio!

In addition, after simulating a process, you can have analystView optimize your process for you by juggling resource assignments and other process variables. Of course, if you prefer a more hands-on approach, you can manage the optimization yourself.

But that's the end of the story... let's start at the beginning.

Simulation for the Rest of Us

As a business process consultant, I face a dilemma shared by business analysts and process improvement consultants everywhere: how can I make more effective - and more quantifiable - process improvement recommendations?

One valuable tool is process simulation, but simulation systems have historically been very complex and have had steep learning curves. However, analystView changes the game - now you can simulate processes using Visio, the same software you already use to create your process models.

With analystView you can identify staffing …
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The Question
Several times in recent years, someone has posted a question at EE asking whether they could display the Windows directory structure – folders and subfolders – using Visio. When one person specifically asked about displaying directory info in an organization chart format, experts Scott and oldviking decided to give it a try, with the goal of producing something like this:
Final result for MS Office directoryWhen you think about it, displaying a directory as an org chart is a very logical idea. After all, the Windows directory on a hard drive is a hierarchical structure and the Organization Chart Wizard that comes with Visio was designed to display hierarchical information.

The Two-Part Solution
To get started, Scott wrote an Excel macro that collected names and paths of the subdirectories on a Windows hard drive or network share and wrote the results to the worksheet. The collected data also included the attributes of each directory (Read-only, Hidden, System, Archive and Compressed; see reference 1 below for code that obtains directory attributes).

After some fine tuning by oldviking, the directory listing in Excel for "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\" looked like this:
Directory data in ExcelWith an automated way to create the spreadsheet in hand, the authors intended to manually invoke the Visio Org Chart Wizard to read the data and create the directory display.

The Integrated Solution
However, at this point Scott
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Expert Comment

by:Aleksandar Jerinkic
Comment Utility
Hi Scott,

Thanks to you and oldviking for writing this macro and ending my search for a good way to visualise the directory trees I need. A question: have you tested the macro for Visio 2013? Every time I try to do a big piece of work I need (over 2000 subdirectories), my visio freezes at some point and becomes unresponsive.
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Author Comment

by:Scott Helmers
Comment Utility
I'm glad you found the code to be useful.

I don't recall but I don't believe that I have run the code with Visio 2013. My guess, however, is that it's the number of directories rather than version of Visio that's the issue in your case. We did not make any attempt to optimize the code for very large file/directory counts. You might be running into the boundaries of either what our code can handle or what the org chart wizard can handle. Also, I don't know how long you've waited before determining that Visio was frozen, but you might start the code when you're leaving your machine for the night to let it run overnight. Just a thought...
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Microsoft Visio

Visio is a diagramming and vector graphics application that is part of the Microsoft Office family that allows the user to create diagrams for organizational and planning purposes. The Premium edition has additional templates for more advanced diagrams and layouts, as well as capabilities intended to make it easy for users to connect their diagrams to data sources and to display their data graphically, as well as intelligent rules, validation, subprocess (diagram breakdown). one-step connectivity with Excel data, information rights management (IRM) protection for Visio files, modernized shapes for office layout, detailed shapes for site and floor plans, modern shapes for home plans, and IEEE compliant shapes for electrical diagrams.

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