Microsoft's version of Visio enhanced

Visio 2002 is the first Microsoft Corp.-developed version of the popular diagramming software since the company acquired Visio Corp. in January 2000.

Visio gained its widespread popularity based on its ease of use, but we found that this new version of the product offers improvements in several major areas, including enhanced graphics, tighter Web integration and closer integration with Microsoft Office applications.

Enhanced graphics include the ability to import images from other sources such as Microsoft Office XP's Clip Organizer, scanners and digital cameras. The images can then be manipulated within Visio using new photo editing tools, although the functionality is still more basic than Microsoft's PhotoDraw.

Visio 2002's Web integration includes the ability to publish Visio diagrams as Web pages, with shapes that can display multiple hyperlinks. In addition, users can access the latest shapes developed by Microsoft and by third parties.

There is also built-in Web access to Visio's AutoUpdate utility, which analyzes a current Visio installation and recommends needed updates, making them immediately available for download. Several online resources supply technical information, product updates and add-on solutions.

Though Visio is not included in any Microsoft Office suites, it is a Microsoft Office XP family member. (Or, rather, it will be once Office XP ships.) Office users will recognize the interface along with many features, and there are more tools for editing Visio diagrams from within other applications, such as Word and PowerPoint. In addition, Visio 2002 integrates with other Microsoft products such as Microsoft Project, Excel, Exchange Server , SQL Server and the Visual Studio development system.

Microsoft also has consolidated the four former Visio products into two. Visio Standard still exists as the product geared toward business professionals who need to easily create flowcharts, organization charts and timelines.

Visio 2002, designed for technical drawing, incorporates the features of Visio 2000 Technical and Visio 2000 Professional into one product designed for IT professionals, engineers, software developers and facilities managers. The advanced network diagramming tools contained in Visio 2000 Enterprise are available as add-ons and are called Microsoft Visio Enterprise Network Tools.

To facilitate deployment, Microsoft has added support for unattended installation and Systems Management Server deployment as well as full compatibility with Microsoft Installer technology. Maintenance improvements include a new self-repair feature that discovers and repairs missing or corrupt files automatically.

Visio 2002 also includes an alternative XML-based file format that enables corporate or third-party developers to import or export any aspect of a Visio diagram.

REPORT CARD

Visio 2002

Microsoft Corp.
(425) 882-8080
www.microsoft.com/office/visio

Price: The estimated retail prices for Visio 2002 Standard and Visio 2002 Professional are $199 and $499, respectively. Visio 2002 is available on the GSA schedule through GTSI (www.gtsi.com) and prices will vary according to license type. Customers who have a licensing agreement should check with a local sales representative for pricing.


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