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Microsoft Visio 2013 : Collaborating on and Publishing Diagrams - Understanding Visio Services in SharePoint 2013

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Visio Services is a Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 feature you can use to share diagrams with people who don’t have Visio. There are three key advantages to sharing diagrams via Visio Services instead of publishing static webpages :

  • The Visio Web Access browser view is dynamic and reflects nearly all diagram changes. (Diagrams published to SharePoint with Visio 2010 only displayed a subset of diagram changes.) The web view can be updated either automatically by a program or timer, or manually by the user.

  • Visio Services supports interactive commenting on diagrams by any combination of people using the Visio client or viewing the diagram with a web browser.

  • You can incorporate Visio diagrams into SharePoint applications:

    • You can embed a Visio web drawing in a SharePoint Web Part.

    • You can create dynamic connections between Web Parts that contain Visio web drawings as well as between them and other types of Web Parts.

    • You can use the Visio Services Mash-up API to program dynamic changes in the browser as the user navigates around a drawing or takes other actions in a SharePoint page.

In addition to the advantages just listed, the user experience in the web browser is enhanced in Visio web drawings when compared to Visio websites:

  • Pan and zoom are provided by click-and-drag and rolling the mouse wheel, respectively. (Other techniques are also available.)

  • Shape data is easier to view via a floating properties window.

  • The properties window that displays shape data also lists the hyperlinks, if any, that are attached to the selected shape.

Tip

One key feature is missing from Visio web drawings: full-text search. It is an important part of Visio-created webpages but is not part of web drawings saved to Visio Services.

Saving to Visio Services from Visio 2010 required a special intermediate file format, however, that is no longer true with Visio 2013 and SharePoint 2013. The same Visio file—in the new .vsdx file format—works in the Visio client and on the SharePoint server. In addition, Visio 2010 diagrams saved to SharePoint required Silverlight for optimal browser viewing; that requirement no longer exists for Visio 2013.

Data-connected Visio diagrams that use data graphics provide particularly impressive results when published to SharePoint, because whenever a user or a program changes the source data, the data graphics on the webpage change dynamically.

Data connections in a diagram published to SharePoint are refreshable if you link your diagram to one of the following data sources:

  • Excel workbooks that were previously stored on the SharePoint site

  • SharePoint lists

  • SQL Server tables and views

  • Databases accessed via OLEDB or ODBC drivers

Tip

Linking to SQL Server and OLEDB/ODBC databases is supported for SharePoint but is not supported for SharePoint Online in Office 365.

Visio has always been good for building data-driven, visual representations of processes, networks, organizations, or other entities. When you add the capability to create dynamically updateable webpages via SharePoint, Visio becomes a key contender for building business intelligence solutions in almost any work domain.

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