Microsoft Visio is a most useful and versatile diagramming application that has the ability to include
information with every single item. Although Microsoft Visio is inexpensive, and widespread, there are,
unbelievably, still some people who need to see Visio documents but do not have the actual application
For a while, Microsoft resisted releasing a free viewer for Visio files, believing that it would
reduce the sales for Visio itself. Consequently Visio files had to be saved into another format, such
as PDF or PowerPoint, or published as a web page.
Indeed, bVisual have released pptXporter for those companies that need to view Visio files in PowerPoint
format, and many companies save Visio files in Adobe PDF format. Both of these methodologies are fine
if only simple graphics are required. However, Visio is capable of far more than just graphics because
it can integrate information in a unique and compelling manner, turning each element into treasure trove
The improved web publishing features of Visio 2003/07/10 provide the ability to create integrated graphics
and data by using XML (the data language of the web) combined with VML or SVG (two common graphic languages
for the web), however the Visio files are not viewed in their native format, and consequently there
is no ability to control the display of layers or view reviewers comments. The Visio 2003 does however
provide the ability to not only see the information encapsulated with every item, but to search the
information to find the elements that contain the desired information. Printing Visio documents or just
copying information or graphics are still a problem in the web pages.
Visio, in common with some other graphical applications, has the ability to assign items to different
layers in the picture. Any layer can be switched on or off, or a color can be assigned to a layer. These
capabilities can turn a static diagram into a more fluid environment. For example, the furniture and
equipment layouts in an office layout, the annotations on a process flow diagram, or the pictures in
an organisational chart, can be turned on or off, changing the appearance and use of the same drawing
Visio 2003 introduced reviewing and mark-up, providing the ability to pass Visio files around for comment.
The published web pages do not display these reviewers comments at all.
Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Visio Viewer in 2002 and has updated it to provide support for
Visio versions 5 through to 2007. The viewer does have layer control, reviewer’s comments and shape data
(nee custom properties - the special information stored with each graphical shape). It is free, and provides the
ability to use Visio files as a portable format that can be viewed by non-Visio users. Printing is tricky,
because it depends on the host application, usually Microsoft Internet Explorer, and it is not possible
to search the information in the same way that it is even with the published web pages.
Therefore, bVisual have written the visViewer application to add these features, and more. visViewer
requires the Microsoft Visio Viewer 2010 to be installed first (it is installed with Outlook 2010 anyway),
and then it provides a simple and extended interface for the Visio documents. Not only is it useful for
non-Visio users who need to use the Visio files more interactively, it can be a companion for Visio users
who need to view Visio files quickly, and copy some information or pictures simply.
visViewer requires the FREE Microsoft Visio Viewer 2010:
Available from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=21701