Microsoft Software

Visio: From a simple IT tool to the universal business diagram app it was always meant to be

Image: Tada Images/Adobe Stock

When Microsoft first acquired Visio again in 2000, it was a general-purpose diagramming tool for drawing circulation charts, ground plans, org charts, thoughts maps and community diagrams by dragging shapes onto a canvas and creating connections between them.

Bundling it with Visual Studio and together with add ons that might mechanically uncover community topologies to create these community diagrams (or join to different information sources that embody metadata) made it a standard tool for IT admins and designers. The undeniable fact that it was always a separate buy reasonably than included in the normal Office suite – the place Word and PowerLevel had fundamental diagramming options – bolstered the view that it was extra of a specialist tool.

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But nearly everybody wants to draw diagrams typically, particularly for explaining or designing processes.

Visio as an internet service

As with Project, by turning Visio into an internet service, Microsoft might create a less complicated model of the software program that will be helpful to extra folks on extra platforms (there was by no means a Mac model of the desktop Visio software program, for instance), whereas step by step including choices like community mapping and Universal Modeling Language assist that made it so standard with extra superior customers – however nonetheless maintaining the desktop software program for many who want the full vary of options.

Image: Microsoft. Create a new org chart in Visio on-line.

The on-line model of Visio has a whole lot of shapes and dozens of templates for block diagrams, business matrices, Venn diagrams, cycle diagrams, flowcharts, org charts, community diagrams, pyramid diagrams and course of diagrams, plus extra business-specific diagrams like infographics, roadmaps and visible timelines.

This contains standard business frameworks like 5 whys, the 4 P’s of selling, PESTLE evaluation and different particular methods of presenting data visually that you just now don’t have to create from scratch every time.

Image: Microsoft. You can nonetheless create a diagram of your community in Visio however you may as well make an infographic.

You can even construct your personal diagrams from the varied shapes, with sensible tips to assist you to align them on the web page, then drag connectors from one form to one other.

Diagrams are mechanically saved into OneDrive by default in the Documents folder, however you may transfer them individually and export as a picture, PDF or HTML code for embedding the diagram on a net web page). If you could have entry to the desktop model of Visio, you may ship the diagram from the net app, identical to opening a doc into every other Office app.

And as a result of it’s net based mostly with APIs, you should use Visio inside Microsoft Teams so folks can collaborate on diagrams. If you had been drawing the diagram in Word or PowerLevel, all you can share would be a static picture, not one thing colleagues could make adjustments to – and also you’d have to clip or save it first. You can mix Visio diagrams with Power BI reviews in Teams so you may focus on how effectively processes are working and see the place they may want bettering.

To implement a course of, you may even take your Visio diagram, open it in Power Automate and join up the totally different providers and information sources to implement it as an automation circulation. If you could have a information supply, you should use Visio to mechanically flip that into a diagram which you can then automate.

Visio additionally works as an add-in inside Excel, so in case you have a listing of employees in a spreadsheet, you may flip that into an org chart, which you’ll then open in the full Visio net app to work on with extra instruments, and nonetheless get the up to date diagram again in Excel.

Free for some

Image: Microsoft. The 2019 Visio roadmap promised to make Visio on the net extra highly effective and extra extensively obtainable.

Using Visio as an add-on in Office by no means wanted a Visio license, and you can always add Visio as a tab in Teams, however modifying a diagram there wanted a Visio Plan 1 or Plan 2 subscription. Last 12 months, Microsoft added a fundamental model of the Visio net app to Microsoft 365, making it obtainable with out an additional license for anybody with an Office 365 or Microsoft 365 business subscription.

That doesn’t embody small and medium business plans like Business Basic and Business Standard, or subscriptions for frontline employees, like F1: You want to have one in all Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Microsoft 365 Business Standard, Microsoft 365 Business Premium, Microsoft 365 Apps for business, Office 365 E1, Office 365 E3, Office 365 E5, Office 365 F3, Microsoft 365 F3, Microsoft 365 E3, Microsoft 365 E5, Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise, Office 365 A1, Office 365 A3, Office 365 A5, Microsoft 365 A1, Microsoft 365 A3 or Microsoft 365 A5.

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There’s no private model of Visio both, despite the fact that there are templates like Home Network that will clearly be helpful at house. But Microsoft additionally nonetheless gives Visio Plan 1 and Plan 2 subscriptions, and people get you additional diagram types for cross-functional flowcharts and swim-lane diagrams, shapes for community gear and cloud providers, and assist for UML 2.5.

Image: Microsoft. Basic org charts are in the model of Visio everybody can use however if you’d like extra structure choices you want a Visio Plan 1 or Plan 2 subscription.

There aren’t many additional choices in Plan 1 over what you are able to do by simply having Microsoft 365. But Plan 2 has a vary of extra highly effective options, like creating a stencil of a number of shapes which you can reuse, utilizing guidelines to validate diagrams (and repair any that don’t observe the guidelines, like not connecting extra gadgets to a router than there are ports on it), modeling how a course of works utilizing a formal specification or producing diagrams based mostly on information in Excel, Exchange or Azure Active Directory.

It additionally has extra visible results like including shadows and bevels to objects or grouping them collectively, in addition to layouts for Gantt and PERT charts, ITIL and Six Sigma diagrams, maps, ground plans, thoughts maps, wireframes you should use to design apps and web sites and extra superior community structure choices and shapes.

If you need to use a Visio diagram in Word or PowerLevel, you continue to have to save it as a picture reasonably than having the ability to copy it in as a structure you may proceed to edit: Visio Plan 2 allows you to export diagrams and shapes to Word and PowerLevel, and it’s what you want if you’d like to take Visio diagrams into Power Automate to flip them into workflows.

This is the closest to the desktop model of Visio: It’s additionally the one you want in case you have .VSD recordsdata you’ve created in desktop Visio that you really want to open and edit on-line. If there are options you want that aren’t but in the net model of Visio, Plan 2 comes with the desktop Visio app so you may always fall again to it.

For most business customers, the free model of Visio that’s included in Microsoft 365 is a step past what you are able to do in Office already, however it doesn’t embody these highly effective integrations.


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