Introducing eXplore Visio–a Windows 8.1 App

Microsoft recently launched Universal Windows Apps, which offers the prospect of developing apps for Windows and Windows Phone from one code base. They also offered a prize entry for all apps listed before start of June 2014. Well, that was enough for me to try my hand at one, but I failed to hit the prize entry deadline, but have just launched the first part of my Universal App – eXplore Visio for Windows 8.1. This app was supposed to be a simple listing of the contents of the various editions of Visio 2013, but it became slightly more…


I also wanted to learn more about Windows Azure, so I ambitiously created a Windows SQL Azure database to hold all the information that I gleaned from Visio. I then created a Windows Mobile Service to provide read-only access to the data. At first, I created a .Net back-end, but although I could develop with it locally, I could not get anonymous access from the wild to work … I kept getting a request to enter an unknown user name and login, so I created a JavaScript back-end, and it worked … after I used SQL Management Studio to copy the data from one database to another. Anyway, the .Net back-end does say Preview at the moment.

I created a little c# program to create an image from every master shape in every stencil in Visio, and one to create a unique folder image for each stencil and template category. Finally, I uploaded all the images to Windows Azure Storage and provided global read-only access.

Now, I have a few years experience with XAML (Silverlight & WPF), so I created my Universal App with C#/XAML, and I chose to start with the Windows App first. I like to use MVVM Light, so I created all of the data and model views in the Shared project, set about adding Windows Advertising SDK and created a series of XAML pages in my Windows App project.

This is an example screenshot, which shows that there is a top and bottom app bar … which some people miss Smile


The app allows you to search for Microsoft supplied master shapes using partial names or keywords … you can then see which stencil they can be found on.

It also lists the various Addons that come with Visio … some of them look like legacy code though.

Of course, there are spaces for adverts (I guess that these spaces will be occupied once enough advertisers have campaigns running), and I have listed various of my and Microsoft’s Visio references.

Next step is to complete the Windows Phone part of the Universal App!

eXplore Visio:

Microsoft Universal Windows Apps :

MVVM Light :

Windows Azure :

Building universal Windows apps for all Windows devices :


One Response to “Introducing eXplore Visio–a Windows 8.1 App”

  1. eXplore Visio–now a Windows Phone 8 App too | bVisual Says:

    […] on from my last post ( see ), I have now managed to release the second part of my first Universal App … eXplore Visio, to […]

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