#MSFlow is everywhere at #MSIgnite including #Visio

It will take me some time to review the content coming out at MSIgnite, but there is a re-occurring theme with the seemingly omni-presence of the Power Platform in all the user-facing applications that contain data. The Power Platform is PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, and Power BI ( view a session about this ) built on top of Azure. They work together, or separately, and they add an incredible amount of flexibility and democracy to applications. In the case of Visio, there is a tantalising view of what is coming shortly! Check out this video.

MSFlowInVisio

Visio is already one of the most used business process diagramming available, having surpassed its initial target of out-selling the then market leader, ABC Flowcharter, in the early 90’s within 2 years. Now, imagine being able to pass on those business process diagrams, created by analysts or employees closer to the problem, to the power-user who can markup the MSFlow connectors and settings for each of the tasks, gateways and events! Finally, the completed flow can be exported to become an actual MSFlow that can be run.

There is some very important points here:

Firstly, there is no disconnect between the business flow requirements and the technology employed to effect them. This will surely smooth out any communication issues between teams!

Secondly, the Visio document becomes a detailed flow template that can be re-used, or copied and modified to become other detailed flow templates.

Thirdly, the Visio interface, which will be in Visio Online Plan 2, is much more user-friendly than the standard MSFlow web interface, plus it can be annotated and even printed (yes, some people like to paper walls!). When they have added in the reverse-engineering of existing MSFlows then there should be a rush to add a Visio subscription.

My own presentation was about the possibilities when you use the Visio custom visual for Power BI, so now consider the flow marked-up business process diagrams in a dashboard with the realtime data from the running flow. The potential is blowing my mind!

As I said at the start, the Power Tools are omni-present, and Visio has the potential to become a first-class exponent!

 

#Visio Roadmap @ #MSIgnite 2018

The first slot of the day at the furthest away room from the main conference area is not the ideal time to present anything, but those attendees that made it saw how many new features have been added to Visio recently, and what is soon to be added. The session recording should be available soon, but for those who can’t wait, here is a spoiler! ( View the session here )

VisioRoadmap2018

Recent released features:

  • Visio Online
  • PowerPoint Slide Snippets
  • Data Visualizer
  • Visio Visual in Power BI
  • Microsoft Teams integration
  • Data Visualizer bi-directional links
  • Export to Word

Released at Ignite:

  • Cross-functional flowcharts in Visio Online
  • New Azure Stencils in Visio Online

Soon to be released:

  • UML diagrams and Wireframes in Visio Online
  • Microsoft Flow integration
  • Collaboration enhancements
  • Data Visualizer diagrams in Excel
  • Data-driven Org. Charts, Timelines, Roadmaps
  • Visio immersive
  • Surface Hub integration

Well, that should keep me busy for a while. Now, who wants to give me a project that requires a mixed-reality headset?

 

Temporary Fix for Data Refresh in #Visio Click-2-Run

Visio is an enormous application with literally millions of lines of code, so it is inevitable that bugs creep in for time to time, and can lay dormant .. until you really need it! Such an incident happened to me during a project for a large organisation where the latest and greatest build and versions are held up by the internal IT departments until they are sure that there is absolutely nothing hidden inside. In this project, I was given a laptop with Visio Pro for Office 365 to work with … not a problem, even though that moniker already told me that this was a seriously out of date edition, since it has been called Visio Online Plan 2 for quite a while. Anyway, I developed a solution that relies heavily on linked SharePoint lists and document libraries, using a view. The automatic name of these views are very verbose, so I consistently renamed them. Also, I had the same SharePoint Document library view linked more than once, so that I could link multiple rows to shapes, so renaming was, and is, absolutely essential. Several weeks went by, and my solution was working fine, until one day last week, my colleague told me that the Data / Refresh All was failing for him, and for other users. A review of his laptop showed that his Visio version had been updated to build 1708 from 1609 and the refresh was reverting the carefully renamed data recordsets back to the underlying SharePoint view name. My own personal laptop, not the client’s, is at build number 1808, so I will get the real fix from Microsoft soon via the normal channel updates for Click-to-Run.

DataRefreshNameError

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Using #SharePoint Links and Hyperlinks in #Visio

A current project of mine has caused me to look more closely at the use of links and hyperlinks in “modern” SharePoint Online libraries. Every “modern” SharePoint Online library gets the option to create a new Link in addition to any other content types. They are InternetShortcut files with a .url extension. Only the filename is easily editable once created because the target url is within the file, and no editor is provided. However, it does provide a method to create a repository of approved urls. The alternative approach is to create a column of Hyperlink type, which can be edited easily. This article looks at the implications of each when used in SharePoint Online and used within an external data recordset in Visio, with the intention of providing shapes with hyperlinks.

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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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Really Snapping to Grids in #Visio

Visio has the ability to refine the options for snapping shapes to just grids, but this does not necessarily mean that shapes will automatically position themselves on a grid, or that the size is a multiple of a grid. What if you want some shapes to always be positioned on a fixed grid, and the width and height to always be a multiple on the horizontal and vertical grids respectively? What if you want the grid to start at the top left rather then the default bottom left? Fortunately, the ShapeSheet of the page and shapes can provide this ability, without the need for any external code.

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Using EVALCELL() in #Visio to calculate Workdays

I recently agreed to calculate the number of workdays between two dates in Visio, without realising how difficult it is. Excel users are lucky because it has the NETWORKDAYS() function, but Visio users are not so fortunate. However, Visio does have the EVALCELL function which can be extremely useful in cases like this. I got the inspiration from one of the answers in StackOverflow for a SQL user who also needed a solution.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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