From Seattle to Orlando in 21 years

I was going through my wardrobe the other day, and found my speaker shirt from the Visio Solutions Conference in 1997. This was the first time that I spoke about my use of Visio in the workplace. Back then I was automatically creating dealer desk layouts from a Sybase database for a major bank in London. Next week, I will be at MS Ignite in Orlando, demonstrating how Visio and PowerBI can provide a searchable, updatable dashboard of a data center. If you are there, then I would be delighted to meet you.

Enhancing the Built-In Containers in #Visio

The concept of Structured Diagrams was introduced in Visio 2010 to provide core functionality for a variety of the templates in Visio, such as the Cross-Functional Flowchart, BPMN Diagram and Wireframe Diagram. This is primarily evident as Containers, Lists and Callouts and they can be customized (see Custom Containers, List and Callouts ), as shown in some of my previous articles ( see https://blog.bvisual.net/?s=container). One example of this extension can be found in all of the flowchart shapes that placed into a swimlane in a cross-functional flowchart. They have a Shape Data row, Function, that automatically inherits the text entered into the header of the swimlane. In another example, a Visio user can use Insert / Diagram Parts / Container to visually group other shapes together, and update the header text of the container. Well, I often do want my custom shapes to inherit the text of a container, so, in this article, I show how the built-in containers can be enhanced to provide this ability.

InheritingContainerText

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Icons Sets and Data Bars in #PowerBI #Visio visual

I really enjoy linking data to Visio diagrams, either directly or using the Visio custom visual in Power BI. This visual has the ability to display PowerQuery data as text or color, but not as icons or data bars. These last two features are something that can be used natively in Visio, and automatically updated in Visio Online. I have previously urged Microsoft to add these abilities to the Visio custom visual in Power BI, but there is no sign of it appearing just yet. The custom visual actually removes any Data Graphics ( Text Callouts, Icon Sets, Data Bars or Color by Value) that may already exist in a Visio diagram when it is embedded into Power BI. This reduces the number of shapes in the visual (there is currently a low limit) and, in any case, the data should be displayed from Power BI.

I want to be able to display some data as icons and data bars within the Visio diagram, so what is the alternative? Fortunately, there is a way using text symbol characters and the wonderful Power Query formulas!

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Swapping Images in a #Visio Shape

I often include images in Visio diagrams, and sometimes they are part of a group shape. There are times when I need to swap the image for another, and I want the correct width to height ratio for the new image to be applied, otherwise the image will be distorted. I recently realised that the Shape.ChangePicture() function in Visio actually returns this ratio which can then be applied to the shape cells so that the image is not distorted. Therefore I wrote some C# code (in LinqPad) to utilize this method to provide the option to change the image in a selected shape or sub-shape.

ChangePicture

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Using #Visio with SQL Server #Graph Databases – April Update

I have been continuing to develop a Visio interface for SQL Server 2017 Graph databases because I believe it will be of great use in many scenarios, such as crime investigations, company and shareholder relationships, and anywhere that defining and illustrating links between items is important.

SQL Server 2017 introduced graph tables, Nodes & Edges, which is a great way of storing relationships between objects. However, there is no easy way of creating or visualising this information currently. Visio is a data-diagramming application, so what could be more natural than to use Visio to create and visualise the data?
All Visio shapes can contain data, and are easily connected to each other, so creating meaningful relationships is a breeze. Visio diagrams can be automated too, and this solution is a C# VSTO add-in that enhances the normal Visio interface. The application also has the ability to define the shapes, labels, colours and appearance from the data values, which are stored as Json objects.
An import from Excel is also provided because of its tremendous ability to gather and re-shape data from so many different sources.
The solution automatically creates SQL views of each graph table so that the data can be linked to Visio and used in Power BI too.

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What is the difference between a line and a [dynamic] connector in #Visio?

When I have reviewed some of the criticisms of connecting shapes in Visio on the web, it has been clear that some users have a misunderstanding about lines and connectors. It is not surprising really because the Microsoft Visio help documentation does not currently make the distinction clear. A connector shape is used to connect two shapes together, whereas a line is normally just a straight line. As usual with Visio though, this is not the whole story because a line can be used to connect two shapes together, and it can be turned into a dynamic connector. I will try to explain myself in this article.

The normal way to connect two shapes together is to use the Connector tool (CTRL+3) on the Home / Tools  ribbon, and a line is drawn with the Line (CTRL+6) drop-down menu in the same ribbon group.

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Creating #Visio #Validation Rules for #GraphDatabase template

Having developed Node and Edge/ Dynamic connector masters shapes for creating Node and Edge table entries for a SQL Server 2017, I decided that I should write some validation rules. The validation feature has been in Visio since the 2010 edition, but is underused, even though I wrote a book about them … see  Microsoft Visio 2013 Business Process Diagramming and Validation . I think that only six rules are necessary to validate that a page with Node and Edge shapes is well constructed before attempting to update the tables in SQL Server, or any other GraphDatabase.

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