This is the third 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
- Part 3 – data mapping (this post)
- Part 4 – generation and refresh
- Part 5 – export to template
So now the data is in place, I’m ready for the import wizard.
You can kick this off from either a blank drawing by clicking ‘Create’ on the Data ribbon tab or by selecting one of the built in templates. I’m choosing the latter.
On opening the new drawing a wizard appears, ready to accept your answers. The wizard covers five basic tasks:
Step 1 – Connect to Excel. You choose your flowchart type (cross functional horizontal / vertical or basic flowchart), select your target workbook and range, or table.
Step 2 – Map function and phase columns. This stage allows you to map the Function and Phases of your cross-functional flowchart to the respective columns in your data. So, for example, if you’d decided to name your swimlanes or function column ‘Department’ and your phase column ‘Season’, then this is the point at which you marry up your naming scheme with something that Visio can make sense of.
Another point to note at this stage is the ordering options. The default is to add phases to the diagram in the order that they’re defined within your data, but to have function order defined by Visio. The rationale is that phases are likely to represent some passage of time where functions are less likely to follow a similar pattern. Of course if function order is important then you can tick this option and it will also follow the order that they appear in the data, which you can, of course, sort prior to firing off the wizard. [Thanks to Shashank Gandhi on the Visio team for the insight for the defaults.]
Step 3 – Map step shape to columns. Next, you need to assign the mappings for the individual step shapes – the column in your data used for a shape’s unique ID, the column used for the shape’s text and the column for the shape’s type.
Note - that if you provide a mapping for the text (Process Step / Activity Description) then you shapes will be created with a two-way binding – if you change the Shape Data the text will change and if you change the text directly, the mapped Shape Data will change. If you don’t want this to happen, perhaps if your target shapes contain fields, you can just leave this item un-mapped and Visio will respect your choice.
Step 4 – Map step shape types to masters. Now you’ve associated the columns with the respective fields that Data Visualizer is looking for, Visio can present you with a distinct list of those shape type values that appear in your data. So the next task is to map those values to an available master, and here you free to choose any master from any stencil that’s currently open: (does anyone still use CD ROM’s?)
Step 5 – Choose connections strategy. Finally, there’s three main options for deciding on how you want your shapes connected together:
Connect sequentially creates a single linear path through the shapes in your data connected one after the other.
And finally, ‘Don’t Connect’
Completing the wizard
The ‘Finish’ button becomes available (enabled) from step 3, allowing you to accept the defaults for final three stages. Whether you visit each stage or duck out early, hitting finish will kick off the final diagram generation and I’m going to look at the output next.