Visio offers software upgrade, pursues federal customers

Visio Corp. last month upgraded its Microsoft Corp. Windows-based business diagramming and technical drawing software which is available through federal resellers.

Visio Seattle unveiled its Visio 5.0 product line which includes Visio Standard Visio Professional and Visio Technical. The products feature a common 32-bit graphics engine and "wizards" designed to ease the creation of diagrams and schematics.

The new products also provide integration with Microsoft's Office applications this arrangement allows users to export data from a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to create a project time line or to tap data housed in a Microsoft Access database to build an organizational chart.

U.S. customers purchased $49.3 million worth of drawing and painting products during the first half of 1997 according to PC Data Inc. a market research firm based in Reston Va. Products from Visio Adobe Software Inc. and Corel Corp. were the top sellers during that period according to Jim Gorman a research manager with PC Data.

In the federal market Visio's products are available through General Services Administration resellers such as BTG Inc. Comark Federal Systems and Government Technology Services Inc. Comark recently began a GSA program in which federal buyers can license Visio software rather than buy shrink-wrapped products.Leslie Lytel Visio's product manager said the firm is targeting federal customers and will appoint a corporate account executive to focus on the government.

In addition to Office integration the Visio 5.0 line has adopted user interface formats designed to resemble those used in Office 97 Visio said including tabbed dialog boxes and pop-up palettes.

Visio 5.0 also supports the Open Document Management API (ODMA) which means that drawings created in Visio can be managed through ODMA-compliant document management products from vendors such as PC DOCS Inc.

Visio Standard 5.0 which is geared toward general business users has a commercial retail price of $149. Visio Professional 5.0 designed for IT managers network administrators and other technical personnel is priced at $349 as is Visio Technical 5.0 which is intended for engineers and drafters.

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