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Introduction to Visio Services

From: SharePoint 2010 New Features

Video: Introduction to Visio Services

In SharePoint 2010, we have a new feature called Visio Services. This allows us to take diagrams we've created in Visio 2010 and make them available on SharePoint sites to people who don't even need to have Visio on their machines. So like Excel Services in SharePoint 2007, this is really a publishing mechanism. It's not about getting people to work together on Visio diagrams. We could do that already with regular document libraries, but let me show you what I mean. Now in SharePoint 2010, you'll see the word, Visio, used in a couple of different places.

Introduction to Visio Services

In SharePoint 2010, we have a new feature called Visio Services. This allows us to take diagrams we've created in Visio 2010 and make them available on SharePoint sites to people who don't even need to have Visio on their machines. So like Excel Services in SharePoint 2007, this is really a publishing mechanism. It's not about getting people to work together on Visio diagrams. We could do that already with regular document libraries, but let me show you what I mean. Now in SharePoint 2010, you'll see the word, Visio, used in a couple of different places.

When you create a new site, for example, you're going to see that one of the new site templates is called a Visio Process Repository. We don't have to use this site. This is just an example. If you were to work with lots of Visio diagrams, you might want to take a look at it. In fact, I have a Visio Process Repository created right here, and really the key difference is it has a document library called Process Diagrams that's been preconfigured with a few default templates in it. It's got multiple content types. So that we have a Basic Flowchart and a BPMN Diagram that kind of thing.

Choosing any of these options will allow us to open it up in Visio 2010,and you do need either the Professional or the Premium edition and you can then start creating the diagram the way you always would. When it comes time to save this, I can just close down Visio, and say that I want to save. It should automatically create it into that library. This library does have check in and check out required, so we do have to check it in if we want to use this and it's now uploaded.

Now if you are looking at this, thinking, "well, I could've done that with the regular document library," you'd be absolutely correct but there is a new feature we can use. I am going to go back into Visio and I am just going to open a simple diagram that I had already created. Now, what I'm trying to do here is I want other people to see it. I don't want them necessarily to work on it. I am trying to publish this Visio diagram and make it visible by a lot of other people, and here's what I can do with this version.

I am going to my File menu where I have got the usual Save and Save As suspects, but I also have a section called Save & Send which itself has a choice. Save to SharePoint. That will have some of the recent locations that I have opened up in the different Office programs, although I could also browse for location myself. I am going to save it into that Processes folder in my Visio Process Repository. Here's the important piece. That I have a choice here of how to save this. Do I want to save it as a Drawing or as a Web Drawing? What's the difference? The Drawing is the normal Visio VSD file format.

The Web Drawing is a new format of VDW specifically designed for using Visio and SharePoint together. I am going to choose that one and hit Save As. We actually get the normal Save As window that's going to open here and I can see that it says I'm saving as a Web Drawing. If I chosen Drawing, I wouldn't get an Options button but as I have chosen Web Drawing, I have this extra button here. I don't have to click this. What this allows us to do is if we have a complex Visio diagram with multiple pages and data sources, we can actually choose which parts of this diagram are available for other people to see.

I've got a fairly simple diagram, so I don't need to change anything there. I am going to hit Save. It's going to do a little bit of conversion work on that, but the big benefit of being able to save this as a VDW or a Visio Web Drawing, is that we can then directly open this up using the browser. Now for me that might not be a big deal. I have Visio 2010. I can just open it up in Visio, but the big deal is for other people. They could then go to this Process Diagram Library, select this file, they don't even have to have Visio, and it will open up in the browser.

If they have Silverlight installed, they'll have a very quick zoomable way of looking at this diagram. If not, they will just see a PNG version of the diagram, but it will work in Internet Explorer. It will work in Firefox. It will work in Safari. Now one of the great things too, is if in Visio, you do a lot of data-driven diagrams that has used the Data part of the Ribbon and you'll link your diagram to some behind-the-scenes data, you can do that too. As you can see here, if I am using Visio to link to data, my choices are Excel workbook, Access database, even SharePoint Foundation list, so I could connect this to a list on an existing SharePoint site.

When that's published as this Web Drawing, every time it's viewed it will actually refresh that data, so we'll be showing the latest version of the diagram from the latest version of the data. It's very different from just saving off the Visio as a graphic, for example. This is dynamic and very reactive. If you are connecting to data, it's possible that your administrator may have to do a little bit of configuration to make sure that it's trusting the correct locations that you're drawing your data from, but it's a fairly straightforward process.

So if your requirement is that you want people to work and collaborate on a Visio document, well, you have been able to do that all along with SharePoint. That's just a normal document library. Visio Services is a publishing and a sharing mechanism. We are not inviting people to change this diagram. We're allowing them to see it, and we are allowing them to see it with the freshest version of the data.

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SharePoint 2010 New Features

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