Overview of Visio Services 2010

The overview of Visio Services session was a very broad overview more from an end user perspective rather than a development or architecture perspective. The big enhancements here is the native SharePoint integration into the web part architecture. Other features seem to build on the existing capabilities of the product. Much in the area of making Visio much more usable. Visio maybe feeling the movement from Visio to PowerPoint. Most of my people use PowerPoint given it’s ease of use.

One area of redundancy in the product was the new BCS architecture and how Visio uses data collection files. To workaround this you can start off on a list that was populated via BCS but it seems like an extra layer of complexity.

Visio has three major themes functionality for Visio 2010 :

  • Sharing – Browser based diagrams
  • Living Diagrams– Live editing and rendering of Visio documents
  • Context Aware – Interaction with other web parts and information.

Share

The demo showed of an infrastructure diagram that is similar to the one in the Visio IT Toolbox website.  This is connected to a SQL Server backend. A fairly simple example of a straight connection to a data source.

Visio Services Example

He showed how you can update the backend and the web UI will update automatically. By using the out of the box shapes you can report up key KPI’s on the information in the repository. We saw this a bit in Visio 2007 but this experience seems much more fluid.

Demos shown:

  • Casino Table KPIs – Being able to view table activity and tracking which table is losing money vs. making money.
  • HR Process analysis – KPI’s on HR process health.
  • What’s hot on the Vegas Strip – What are the hot clubs and showing the amount of people in queue in the lines.
  • KPI’s on web site analytics – Being able to show web traffic on a wireframe of a web based application.

Features in detail:

  • Cross browser
  • Visual Refresh of Data Diagrams from SQL, Lists, Excel, OLEDM, ODBC and Custom
  • SSO and Kerberos support
  • Automatic refresh functionality
  • Visio Web Access Web Part
  • Javascript mash-up API
  • Supports web part connections
  • Visio services are Shared Services
  • Powershell supported and Central Admin
  • Can tune performance

User Experience

There was a ton of UI enhancements. here is a list of the ones demoed:

  • Auto connect of shapes
  • Auto shape creation
  • Maximize drawing shapes with most common shapes collapsed to the side.
  • Infinite canvas
  • Auto-alignment of misaligned shapes and lines
  • Theme gallery w/ live preview

Data connectivity

Wizard based setup (like 2007) to link up data to shapes. Data graphics which is a shape that is bound to information. You can click and drag a row of data over an existing shape or drop on canvas to create a new shape bound to a repository. The default view will present, but you can modify to a set of Visio preconfigured visuals.

Configuring a data graphic is very straight forward. There a set of preconfigured thresholds that can provide the statuses you want to represent in the diagram.

Saving the diagram you have two choices. The first is the traditional visio file and the second is a Visio Web Sharing Document (vdw).

Integration into SharePoint Solutions

There was simple expamples given on how to integrate with SharePoint based solutions.

  • Web Parts – View diagram as a web part
  • Web Part Connections – Communicate and update other web parts
  • Mash-Ups – Mash-up content and look and feel

 

With web part connections it was demoned how you an click on a shape of the Visio shape in one web part to in turn update another. This was shown through two scenarios, one a hotel room drill down and the infrastructure map shown above.

Some of the property pane items demoed shows us:

  • Application compatibility
  • Refresh rates
  • Customizations and overrides of visuals

 

Above all of these the two big ones are the mash-up capabilities and the windows workflow foundation (WF) visualization capabilities. But further investigation will be needed to see the detailed architecture to see the gotchas in the integration points.

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