In this chapter
Microsoft Visio 2007 introduces some powerful new features to link corporate data to graphics to visualize information. The purpose of this book is to go a little beyond the out-of-the-box Visio to show how it can be honed to suit your company’s needs.
I started 20 years ago with computer-aided design (CAD), on a bespoke workstation and a spreadsheet, on a Commodore Pet. Gradually, I could get both applications on a UNIX workstation. Throughout the 1990s, the corporate world increasingly wanted to see themselves through rose-tainted Windows. What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) was in . . . and nothing was more WYSIWIG than Visio (the product and the company had the same name in those days (see http://visio.mvps.org for a potted history). You could even choose what the user interface should look most like among Microsoft Office, Lotus® SmartSuite®, or Novell® PerfectOffice.
I got hooked, but then a bigger fish came along and swallowed the bait (Microsoft’s acquisition of Visio Corporation was its biggest at the time). Microsoft Visio emerged with a new identity, and Microsoft started the struggle to blend Visio into the rest of the Microsoft Office System. The 2007 release has continued this progression, but the Big Three of the Microsoft Office family (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) have shiny new coats and bionic hearts, while the others look on enviously, but there are new, useful toys to play with (Link Data to Shapes and Data Graphics).
Meanwhile, PCs have become more powerful, and Microsoft has opened the vista to a landscape drawn with vectors. Web-based applications are becoming increasingly more capable, and Microsoft is planning the release of flashy operating-system(OS) independent, programmable vector components (codename WPF/E) that must challenge for some tasks currently performed by Visio today.
So, the future releases of Visio will have to raise the bar to keep its position ahead of the pack but, currently, no other application covers such a wide range of graphic types, and no other system provides such easy links to data. The intelligent use of SmartShapes makes truly smart diagrams. Visio is fully programmable and this makes it relatively simple to customize to suit most information needs. The support and familiarity of Microsoft applications is attractive to organizations that need to provide quality consistently.