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Microsoft Visio 2010 : Cleaning Up Documents - Setting Document Properties,Removing Personal Information , Reducing File Size

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4/24/2014 1:43:10 AM
Before you share a Visio document, you might want to change or remove certain bits of sensitive in-house information and reduce the file size as much as possible. The Info panel in the Backstage area offers several functions to help you do this.

Setting Document Properties

When you click the Info tab in the Backstage area, you see something like Figure 1, which shows two big buttons for removing information and reducing file size, along with summary of information fields under Properties on the right.

Figure 1. The Info panel in the Backstage area. Several of the fields on the right can be edited in-place.

If you’ve used Microsoft Office for a long time, you might be used to editing document properties such as Author, Title, Company, Categories, and so on via a pop-up accessible from File, Properties.

With the new Backstage area, it took me awhile to notice that you can actually edit several of these fields in-place. Just mouse over the fields on the right; orange highlights around a field indicate that it is editable. In Figure 1, the Title field is being edited.

You can still access the “old” properties dialog by clicking the little Properties item just under the preview thumbnail and choosing Advanced Properties. The pop-up dialog also has a few more fields and settings than are shown in the Info panel.

Removing Personal Information

Before you email a document outside the company, you might want to erase some of those document property fields, along with other information. On the Info panel, click the Remove Personal Information button. The Remove Hidden Information dialog appears, with the Personal Information tab active.

Which Information Gets Removed?

The Personal Information tab has a few check boxes that enable you to clear quite a bit of information from your document:

  • File properties (author, company, manager, and so on)

  • Reviewer comments

  • Reviewer marks and pages

  • Stencil file paths

  • Template filename

  • Validation issues and time stamp

  • External data sources

Stencil file paths and template filenames could give someone an unwanted look into the directory structure of your PC or your company’s infrastructure.

Although validation issues can be generated only by Visio Premium, they might still take up space in a document, even if it is being edited in Standard or Pro.


Which Information Isn’t Removed?

Determining which information isn’t removed is the tricky bit, of course. Shape Data fields aren’t erased, even when data sources are removed from a document. If you’ve populated an org chart with salary data, people can still see this data by inspecting the Shape Data fields for shapes. Data Graphics applied to such shapes reveal this data visually as well.

If you’ve used callouts or text blocks to add comments to a drawing, Visio isn’t able to remind you to remove it. So if you add a comment to a callout attached to a process shape that says “Duration should be 3.5 hours, but Bob needs 6,” information removal won’t catch it.

Multipage documents can be dangerous, too, because the tabs can sometimes be off the edge, out of sight and out of mind. Make sure that you haven’t retained any “junk” or “test” pages unintended for external eyes.


Reducing File Size

The second tab in the Remove Hidden Information window is the File Size Reduction tab. You can also jump straight to it by clicking the Reduce File Size button in the Info panel.

The things that you can clean up to make your Visio file smaller include

  • The preview picture

  • Unused master shapes

  • Unused themes, data graphics, and styles

  • Inactive validation rule sets

The preview picture usually isn’t a huge detail, especially with today’s large hard drives. But unused masters, themes, data graphics, and styles can really add up.

Validation rule sets are a feature that is useful only to Visio Premium users, but the rule sets can still take up space in a document, even if it is being edited in Standard or Pro.

I’ve seen files from customers that contain, say, a simple flowchart. A simple diagram, but the file is a whopping 3MB! What often happens is that they experiment with every shape they can get their mouse on. They drop one, play with it, explore its features, and then delete it. But it remains in the Document Stencil.

The File Size Reduction tab is very informative and tells you how many unused objects you have, so you can tell whether you have a cluttered document before you commit to removing the items.

Reducing your Visio file sizes not only helps keep your hard drive free, but also keeps you on the happy side of folks to whom you mail attachments. These features are a great addition to Visio and well worth learning.

 
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