Microsoft released the public preview of the next version of Office yesterday and, of course, that includes Visio. There’s some great new features and functionality coming in this new version, which I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on.
I’m looking forward to getting into the details of some of these in some upcoming posts (see the new ‘Visio 2013’ category under resources section on the right), but for the time being, and in no particular order, here are a few of the changes I’ve found most interesting:
- New file format – We’ve had the current file format for a while now (2003, 2007 and 2010 all share the same binary format), but Visio 2013 introduces a new XML and package based format similar to those used by Excel, Word and PowerPoint from 2007. Although, Visio’s also had a straight XML format (.vdx) for a while, the new packaged version will allow developers to interact with files in a more consistent manner. You’ll be able to both read and write to files without accessing the application and due to the package nature of the file you can include any other files and media, all within the single ‘outer’ .vsdx file. [Note, if you’ve not come across the Open XML or file packages before, create a Word document, save it in .docx format and then rename the extension as .zip. That’s basically all it is, a zip file containing other (structured) parts.]
- Visio Services – in SharePoint 2013, amongst other changes, now gets general ShapeSheet recalculation – previously Data Graphics only. See Visio Services in SharePoint 2013 for more information.
- Change shape – A new function that allows you swap one shape with another and keep data that’s local to that instance.
- Shape effects – The ShapeSheet has just got a lot larger…to accommodate a whole range visual effects including 3D, reflection and glow, but also, and the part I’m most interested in – gradients. As with the other effects you can apply gradients via the UI, of course, but also via the ShapeSheet. Considering that, in the past, you’ve always been limited to basically one shape, one color, this is a great step forward. [There are exceptions to the one shape, one color rule of course.]
So that’s a few of my favourites and it is by no means an exhaustive list – if you want to have a look at a full list of what’s new then head over here – What’s new in Visio. If you haven’t already, then you can get your hands on the Visio 2013 preview over here, (plus some other links surrounding the release):