3 Microsoft Visio 2010 Beta Productivity Enhancements

Microsoft Visio (s msft) still reigns as the standard tool in diagramming for business, project management and technical communications. While you don’t have to be an artist to use Visio productively, in my experience a lot of users still very intimidated by this application.

Like most of the product in the Office suite, Microsoft Visio 2010 beta has been overhauled, making it easier to use and offering better options for creating and managing Visio diagrams, while also integrating real-time data into your drawings.

Pre-drawn Shapes, Sample Diagrams and Templates.
I love all the shapes, sample diagrams and templates that Visio provides; they are a real productivity boost for me.  While these have always been an integral part of the application, Visio 2010 beta includes a growing library of business, engineering, flowchart, general, maps and floor plans, as well as network templates.

Subprocesses and Containers. Managing large and complex diagrams can be a daunting task for even experienced Visio users. Visio 2010 beta includes Subprocesses and Containers to group related shapes in a logical manner. You can break complex Visio diagrams down into more manageable pieces by using Subprocesses to create mini-diagrams on a separate page that then link to a Subprocess shape in a larger Visio diagram. I can see Subprocesses coming in especially handy for large process flow and network diagrams and look forward to trying them out on a client project. Shape management can also be a challenge when creating large Visio diagrams; you can use Containers to organize different sets of shapes.

Real-time data support & integration. While Visio is best known as a diagramming tool, with this release Microsoft  has made it an application front-end by enabling you to link your Visio diagrams with data sources including Excel, Access, SQL Server, SharePoint Services or any ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) data source using the Data Selector and Automatic Link wizards. It’s easy to think of Microsoft Visio as just a diagramming tool, but this feature offers a number of intriguing options for real-time data visualization.

What are your expectations for Microsoft Visio 2010? Share them below.