Chapter 6 : Database Wizard

Image of Chapter 6

In this chapter

  • The Database Wizard or Link Data?
  • Linking to a Database Table

The Database Wizard has been around for a good few years. In fact, I was a beta tester of the add-on back in 1996 for Visio 4.5 (long before Microsoft bought the product/company). The Database Wizard was a key element that distinguished Visio from any other drawing package and, although it has not been brought right up-to-date, it remains the only out-of-the box tool that provides two-way communication with a database. Thus, it has its uses, even with the advent of the new Link Data technology.

The particular diagrams I was setting up in those days were floor plans for merchant banks, both in London and New York. The personnel changes on the desk layouts were frequent, and the help desk needed to know where everyone was, so I used the Database Wizard to link over 500 desks on each floor to a view in a Sybase database. Then, at a push of a button, the labels and colors of the desks changed to reflect the current location of the staff. Moreover, a legend for the cost-center colors was created.\n\rThere were some challenges to be overcome, for example, the Database Wizard has an option to include an action to refresh a page, but not a document. And, the Database Wizard can take a while to perform its actions on large documents, but it also has its merits.\n\rI was able to set up an administrator’s Visio document, which was used to define the color fills and patterns for each cost center. This was linked to a specific table in the database, so the user could use standard Visio-formatting options, and then update the database with these settings. The desk layout documents would be linked to a database view that included these colors for the cost center of each person, therefore, the desks were always colored and patterned according to a predefined and consistent appearance. The desk layouts were only able to read the database, not write, as the writing of desk to personnel associations was done through a change control process.