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If you create diagrams and flowcharts in Visio, you'll find SharePoint can help you in three different ways. First, and the simplest of all, well, you can just upload regular Visio files into a document library. There is no problem with that. You get the wide availability, things like versioning and check in, check out. Visio is just treated like any other Office document inside SharePoint. I'm going to navigate out and find a simple Visio diagram that I have saved to my own documents library on my Desktop. Nothing remarkable here.
We can see it's got the Visio icon. If I select it, I have the usual suspects in my Ribbon for checking it out or viewing or editing the properties. Though if I choose to edit the document, it's just going to open up Visio 2010 and allow me to edit there. Now, there is nothing particularly remarkable going on here. I could make a simple change to this diagram, save this, and we have it now safely stored in SharePoint. So we can just use Visio diagrams with a regular document library.
Nothing remarkable there. The second thing however, and new in this version of SharePoint, is something called Visio Services. Now, you are probably starting to see a bit of a theme here. We've got Visio Services, Access Services, Excel Services, even Forms Services. Anytime you see that word services used as a feature of SharePoint, it really means take something that was in an external program and really make it part of SharePoint, as opposed to just put it in a document library, which you could do anyway.
So Visio Services means take a Visio diagram and make it a first-class citizen inside SharePoint. Let me show you what I mean by that. I am going to open up Visio 2010 and create just a simple flowchart diagram, just so we have something to work with here. Drag a few items onto this page. It really doesn't matter what I'm doing at this point. I'm not doing anything remarkable with data between this.
I'm just drawing a fairly straightforward diagram. And let's say that's my masterpiece. Now, the question is well, so what? Well, here is the thing. This new feature of Visio Services both requires something to be done in SharePoint and something to be done in Visio. If I were to save this file-- I'm going to go to my File menu and hit Save & Send. Like most of the Office 2010 applications, we have a Save to SharePoint section which tells me recent locations. In fact, it's got a shortcut to my Shared Documents library.
That's the one that I want. But here is the interesting piece down here. We have a new file type that we can use in Visio. Not just the regular Visio drawing format, but we have a new one called a Web Drawing. This changes your Visio diagram, so it can be used with this Visio Services feature on SharePoint. Well, again, what does that mean? Well, I'll show you. I'm going to highlight the Web Drawing option and click Save As. It's going to ask me to save to that Shared Documents library. I'll say this was the Sample Flowchart.
And again, here it's telling me it's saving as a Web Drawing, not a regular Visio diagram. I click Save. What happens is that gets uploaded to the document library and is now accessible using a web browser, using this feature of Visio Services called Visio Web Access. This is kind of a web-based version of Visio. It's not about editing the Visio diagram. It's about displaying it. So you don't see options to edit it, but you can display it to potentially anybody without them having to have Visio installed on their machine.
If you have Silverlight installed, this Visio diagram will be shown using the Silverlight plug-in, and that makes it very zoomable and very crisp and clear. Obviously I don't have a lot of graphical elements going on here, but it makes it very usable in the browser. If you don't have Silverlight installed, this will actually show up using a PNG graphic file. I could choose to open this in Visio if I wanted to edit it. And we have this button here called Refresh. Now, what does this mean? Well, here is the real power of Visio Services.
More and more people are starting to connect their Visio diagrams to data, so that their flowcharts and their diagrams are actually drawing data from a variety of sources. And you can actually have that still work using Visio Services. That means potentially you could give access to this Visio diagram for hundreds or even thousands of people across your organization. They could look at it. They could see all that up-to-date information. They don't even have to have Visio installed. And of course if I wanted to, I could just go back to that team site, back to my Shared Documents library, and decide to edit that Sample Flowchart in Visio rather than just viewing in the web browser.
Now, unlike the Word and Excel and PowerPoint versions of the Office Web apps, this Visio web-based version is only available if you have SharePoint 2010 Server Enterprise Edition. And if you have the Enterprise Edition, you'll also find another new feature. When you're creating a new site, there's a Visio oriented site called a Visio Process Repository. There is nothing really magical about this site. It's simply a SharePoint site that's configured to allow you to store a whole bunch of Visio process diagrams.
Its got a document library in it that's actually been preconfigured with several sample Visio templates. Other than that, it's quite like working with say a team site or a Document Workspace. You don't have to use the Visio Process Repository. It's simply a suggestion from Microsoft, if hey, you want a place to store and manage a lot of Visio diagrams, well they have a suggestion for you. But you could always write your own. And because we're storing this content in regular document libraries, we still get these features like auditing, versioning, check in, check out, and even advanced features like workflow.
Now, the third way Visio can help us is that with the 2010 version you can also use Visio for creating workflows, automated business processes. Now, we need to cover a couple of other things first. So we are going to come back to that part of Visio and SharePoint a little later on.
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