This is the second in a series posts on a new feature in Visio Pro for Office 365 called Data Visualizer.
You can see the other posts here:
- Part 1 – target process
- Part 2 – overview (this post)
- Part 3 – data mapping
- Part 4 – generation and refresh
- Part 5 – export to template
In this post I want to cover all of the moving parts however, as there are already a number of walkthroughs available I’m not going to repeat those details and will highlight them here:
- There’s the official documentation article is here: Create a Data Visualizer diagram
- David Parker has a nice walkthrough video on his blog (plus another more in depth one starting from relational data rather than a flat file)
- Declan Coughlan also covers Data Visualizer and another new feature, Slide Snippets, on his post over at LinkedIn
One point to be aware of is that this being a new feature, things may well change in the future. This series of posts is based on Version 1705 (Build 8201.2025).
To recap the basic workflow for Data Visualizer works like this:
This is the same process I followed. However, in order to create my data, I ran a report on my manually constructed process to spit out the flowchart shapes (ie not the connectors) and then manually added the linking data. Just to be clear, this is not required as the intention is that you’ll be starting with some kind of data defining the process or flowchart in the first place.
Defining the data
At this stage, Visio needs to know a few things to create a mapped and connected diagram:
- firstly, it needs a unique ID for each row so that it can identify the separate shapes – in the default spreadsheet this is the column named ‘ProcessStep ID’
- next, it needs to know what shape master you want to drop for a given row – the default column heading for this one is ‘Shape Type’
- if the shapes are to be connected, Visio will also need the ID of the shape that this one (for a given row) should be connected to. If the shape has more than one outgoing connection then you can supply a separated list to identify each one. The column name here is ‘Next Step ID’
- if you supplied a next step ID then you can also add corresponding label text in the ‘Connector Label’ column
- finally, if you’re targeting a cross functional flowchart then Visio will also need to know in which Swimlane and Phase you’d like your process step to sit. These are defined in the ‘Function’ and ‘Phase’ columns respectively.
Bear in mind that these column names are completely configurable within the wizard, so there’s no need to massage your data to match those default names.
So, here’s the data I’ve ended up with:
Next I’ll move on to the wizard and mapping all of that data to the fields the Visio needs to create the diagram.