Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Visio Services 2010 – Part 1

Microsoft has come up with a wonderful and logical solution of MS Visio client and that is called Visio services in SharePoint 2010.

We now can view diagrams created in MS Visio client in SharePoint 2010. There is a Visio web access we part available now in SharePoint 2010 which allows us to view diagram on SharePoint site.

 The advantage of having Visio services is that end user need not to have Visio client installed in machine. The diagram is rendered inside the browser and that too with few capability options like zoom in, zoom out, viewing properties with data on a Shape created on Visio diagram. However these all functionality comes up when company allows policy to render Visio as Silverlight.

If company policy does not allow Silverlight in browser, then it renders as an image. So we may not get the interactivity, but can certainly see Visio as a PNG image.It is a two way process. You can have a Visio diagram that is in client and update the diagram based on the update of source from which the diagram is being created. Second is you can have Visio diagram uploaded to the Document library and then the diagram updates based on the update on source from which diagram is being created.

 To have the Visio service work in SharePoint, you must enable Visio service in Central administration first. The Visio Services is managed by the Visio Graphics Service service application. Go to Central Administration -> Application Management -> Manage Service Applications
SharePoint 2010 has support for Visio 2010.

 You can create a Visio diagram from several sources like excel, access, SQL database, OLEDB, ODBC and of course SharePoint List. You can also write custom data sources and code accordingly.

 What are these data bindings? Well, this helps us to interact with various data sources and display information in drawing in the form of Visio which adds the representation layer.Visio services actually play a very important role where it converts the .vsd diagram which is saved from Visio client in to .vdw file to be rendered in to Silverlight without end user knowing anything.

 Right now Visio service only comes with Enterprise version of SharePoint.However the only limitation and according to me one of the biggest limitation in Visio diagram is that they are not dynamic and real time. When I say dynamic and real time mean, when you add let’s say a row to a data base table or item to a list, it does not generate diagram for them.

Visio services works only on the diagram that is created, bounded to a source and then uploaded. Any new item or new row does not reflect in diagram. But yes, it does changes based on the existing value changes in the source.

 We will deep dive into Visio service in coming posts in terms of series. Read Visio Services Part -2 for further reading.

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