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Microsoft Visio 2013 : A Visual Orientation to a Visual Product - Identifying new features of Visio 2013

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11/3/2014 8:17:34 PM

Identifying the editions of Visio 2013

Visio 2013 is available in three editions. The first two editions utilize the traditional desktop software purchase and installation model and mirror the two editions that were offered in most prior Visio releases. The third edition is part of the Office 365 suite of subscription-based applications.

  • Visio Standard 2013 Visio Standard is the starter edition of Visio. It provides significant capability for creating business diagrams and includes 26 templates for creating diagrams in six categories.

  • Visio Professional 2013 Visio Professional expands on the Standard edition by offering more than four dozen additional templates for a total of 76 across eight categories. In addition, Visio Pro includes the ability to link diagrams to a wide variety of data sources, and includes a diagram validation capability that is especially well-suited for the expanded set of business process diagrams it supports.

  • Visio Pro for Office 365 This new edition of Visio 2013 provides the identical features and templates as Visio Professional 2013. The key differences in this edition are in packaging and delivery, because it is part of Microsoft Office 365. Office 365 is a cloud-based subscription service. Instead of purchasing Visio Pro for Office 365, you pay a monthly subscription and can install the software on up to five computers running Windows 7 or Windows 8. Each time you install, you automatically receive the latest updates.

Identifying new features of Visio 2013

If you have used any previous version of Visio, you will find a rich set of new features described in the sections that follow. Even if you’ve never used Visio, it will still be worth reading through the features described here in order to learn more about the capabilities of the software.

If you are upgrading from Visio 2010

Visio 2010 introduced the ribbon user interface and a long list of new features. Visio 2013 continues the momentum with another long list of enhancements and new capabilities.


The data-connected sample diagrams that were included with Visio 2010 and Visio 2007 are no longer included with Visio 2013. In addition, the database reverse engineering add-in is no longer packaged with Visio 2013.

  • Updated, modern shapes Hundreds of shapes have been completely redesigned for Visio 2013 to make your diagrams look fresh and modern, and to accommodate Visio 2013 themes. The new shapes are included with the stencils used in many familiar templates, enhancing the appearance of Basic Network, Organization Chart, Timeline, Workflow, and SharePoint Workflow diagrams, among others.

  • Professional appearance Visio 2013 themes have been dramatically enhanced, making it easier than ever to produce eye-catching yet professional-looking diagrams. In addition, themes have been supplemented with pre-designed visual variants that let you add your personal touch. Further, you can apply effects like reflection, glow, and bevel to provide additional emphasis.

  • Integration with the cloud The Open, Save, and Save As pages in the Visio 2013 Backstage view provide easy access to your SkyDrive account, as well as to Microsoft SharePoint and SharePoint Online sites.

  • Improved integration with SharePoint Publishing Visio diagrams to SharePoint is easier than ever because SharePoint 2013 can open Visio files directly. Diagrams published to SharePoint can be viewed using almost any web browser.

  • Collaboration (commenting) Multiple people can read and add comments to a Visio diagram using either Visio or a web browser when diagrams are stored in SharePoint or SharePoint Online.

  • Change shape With Visio 2013, you can replace one shape with another, and the new shape will retain the connections, text, and data from the original shape.

  • Duplicate page You can create a duplicate copy of any Visio page with two clicks.

  • Enhanced template and shape search It’s easier in Visio 2013 to locate the right template to begin a new diagram or to find exactly the right shape to enhance your diagram. Search results are sorted and filtered more effectively and duplicate results are eliminated.

  • Organization charts with photos The Organization Chart wizard has been enhanced in Visio 2013 to provide bulk import of photographs.

  • Improved Mini Toolbar The Mini Toolbar that appears when you right-click either the drawing page or a shape has been revamped, further streamlining many actions and reducing mouse movement. The Drawing Tools, Connector Tool, Change Shape, Shape Styles, and alignment features have been added to the Mini Toolbar.

  • Enhanced touch support Visio 2013 recognizes a greater array of gestures and touch for easier use on tablets and computers with touch screens.

  • New file format All previous versions of Visio stored drawings in a proprietary file format. Visio 2013 joins other members of the Microsoft Office family in using the Open Packaging Convention, an XML-based format. The new .vsdx file format makes the contents of Visio drawings more accessible to other applications for a variety of purposes, including integration with SharePoint as described previously and following.

The following features are available only in the Professional edition of Visio 2013.

  • Collaboration (coauthoring) Multiple authors can edit the same Visio 2013 document simultaneously when the document is stored on SkyDrive, SharePoint, or SharePoint Online in Office 365.

  • SharePoint Workflow integration Visio 2013 supports the Microsoft .NET Framework 4 workflows that are supported in SharePoint 2013. In addition, Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2013 can open and manipulate Visio 2013 files directly. Consequently, you can use Visio’s visual workflow design features to create workflows in both Visio and SharePoint Designer, and then execute them with SharePoint Workflow.

  • Updated BPMN and UML templates The Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) template now conforms to version 2.0 of that standard, and the Unified Modeling Language (UML) templates conform to UML version 2.4.

If you are upgrading from Visio 2007

Visio 2010 was the most significant upgrade to the capabilities of Visio in years. If you are upgrading from Visio 2007, you will benefit from the following features in addition to everything listed in the previous section.

  • New user interface Visio 2010 is the first version of the product to incorporate the ribbon user interface (UI) and the Backstage view. In addition, the Shapes window presents stencils more logically and can be minimized so it occupies less screen real estate.

  • Enhanced user experience Live Preview is a tremendous addition to Visio 2010, because it enables you to view potential changes in color, fill pattern, font size, shape type, data graphics, and more, before you commit to the change. Visio 2010 also reduces required mouse movement with features like AutoConnect and Quick Shapes (refer to next bullet), and the Mini Toolbar.

  • Diagramming support Multiple features whose names begin with Auto or Quick suggest that creating and organizing Visio 2010 diagrams is even easier, and it’s true. AutoConnect and Quick Shapes add new connectors and shapes; AutoAdd and AutoDelete simplify adding and removing shapes on the page; AutoSize expands and contracts Visio page dimensions. In addition, the Add page button creates new pages with a single click, and enhanced copy/paste enables you to control where shapes will be pasted. Finally, the enhanced Dynamic Grid provides excellent visual feedback when placing or moving shapes, dramatically reducing the need to nudge and reposition shapes after they are on the page.

  • Structured diagrams Visio 2010 introduces a new type of shape called a container that provides more than just a visual grouping for a set of shapes. Shapes in a container know they are contained, and the container knows the members that reside within it. Consequently, when you move, copy, or delete a container, all of the members go with it. However, unlike a group shape, the member shapes are accessible with a single click just as if the container were not there.

    In most containers, you can place member shapes wherever you’d like. However, a list is a special type of container that maintains members in ordered sequence. Each list member knows exactly where it resides within the list.

    The third structured diagram element is a new type of callout. The purpose of a callout is still the same—to add annotations to shapes on the page—but both the callout and the target shape are aware of each other, which dramatically improves shape behavior.

    Not only do containers, lists, and callouts enable users to make more effective diagrams more easily, they also provide significant opportunities to Visio developers for building location-aware shapes and for writing code that takes advantage of diagram structure.

  • Enhanced appearance Visio 2010 themes and effects add a new professional appearance to your diagrams. The themes gallery, with Live Preview, lets you sample more than two dozen coordinated sets of colors, fonts, patterns, and effects before choosing the one that is just right for your diagram.

  • Improved CAD support Visio 2010 supports import, conversion, and export of newer file types from Autodesk’s AutoCAD software.

  • Save as PDF or XPS The software to save diagrams in Portable Document Format (PDF) or XML Paper Specification (XPS) format is now bundled with Visio.

The following features are available only in the Professional or Premium editions of Visio 2010.

  • Dynamic web diagrams Previous versions of Visio have allowed you to save a Visio drawing as a set of webpages but with one key limitation: if the diagram changed, you needed to republish the website. Visio 2010, in conjunction with Visio Services on SharePoint 2010, introduces the ability to create dynamic websites from data-connected diagrams. Now, many changes to the diagram, or to the data behind the diagram, appear automatically for anyone viewing your diagram with a web browser.

  • Business process Several new features add to your ability to create business process diagrams in Visio 2010: a BPMN template that conforms to the 1.2 version of the BPMN standard; a feature that automatically creates subprocess pages for flowcharts and BPMN diagrams; and a new interchange file type that lets you create SharePoint Workflow diagrams in Visio and export them to SharePoint Designer (you can also import SharePoint Workflow diagrams into Visio to view graphical representations of the workflows).

  • Diagram validation You can ensure that your diagrams meet a minimum set of predefined conditions before you publish or distribute them using diagram validation rules. Four Visio 2010 templates—Basic Flowchart, Cross Functional Flowchart, Microsoft SharePoint Workflow, and BPMN—include predefined validation rule sets. You can edit the existing rule sets or create your own.

If you are upgrading from Visio 2003

Visio 2007 Professional introduced an important set of data-related enhancements that significantly improved your ability to create data-rich diagrams and to visualize that data creatively and effectively.

  • Themes Visio 2007 introduces themes—a fast way to add style and a professionally designed look to your diagrams.

  • AutoConnect You no longer need to return to the stencil every time you want to add a shape to the page. When you click one of the four AutoConnect arrows that appear when you point to an existing shape on the drawing page, Visio adds a connector and a copy of the currently selected master shape in the stencil.

  • Save as PDF or XPS After downloading a free, add-in available from Microsoft, you can save Visio diagrams in either PDF or XPS format.

  • Sample diagrams Visio 2007 includes five sample diagrams in the new Getting Started category on the startup screen. In the Professional edition, the diagrams are connected to data in Excel workbooks that are also included with Visio.

The following features are available only in the Professional edition of Visio 2007.

  • Data linking A new linking wizard dramatically simplifies the task of linking shapes on the drawing page to data that resides in Microsoft Excel, Access, SQL Server, SharePoint lists, or almost any ODBC or OLEDB-compatible database. No programming is required to establish connections or to refresh a diagram when the underlying data changes.

  • Data graphics You can use Visio 2007 data graphics to visualize data by displaying text or a graphic that is based on the data inside the shape.

  • PivotDiagrams You can build tree-structured data views using the new PivotDiagram template.

  • ITIL and Value Stream mapping New templates enable you to create two important types of diagrams: Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) process maps and Value Stream maps.

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