Microsoft Visio 2013: An old friend, with a new skin

Not dead yet!  Microsoft Visio, the business diagramming and visualization software, is back in a 2013 version. Frankly, it works like the 2010 version, which is great, because once you manage to get it going in Windows 8, the keystrokes, menus, and ribbons are much the same. There are some new themes, including the one in the picture that imitates a hand-drawn diagram. (Hmm….maybe this isn’t progress after all…).  

I recently led a day-long Visio 2010 workshop, with attendees from a local engineering firm, the Department of Homeland Security, and some folks from our state administration. Just for fun, I did a scan on my workstation and server drives for .VSD files, to print out for the class, and I had to stop after about 50.  Some of the files went back before Visio was acquired by Microsoft. They included:

  • Business workflows for the grant application process
  • Entity-relationship diagrams for database designs
  • Lots of forms
  • Network diagrams
  • Office floor plans, with wiring specifications
  • Data graphs 

After playing for a couple hours with the 2013 version, I’m happy to see that it hasn’t been ruined by the upgrade. In fact, the main changes I see is the embedded ability to save to the cloud (via Microsoft’s Sky Drive) and a few (somewhat lurid) additional color themes.

Visio 2013 Network Diagram

The Mac never seemed to get an equivalent program, which I’d attribute to Apple’s ambiguous relationship with business users. Too bad, because the Mac is the ideal graphics machine, and supposed to be for “creative” people. I guess we schlubs will have to slink back to Windows and Visio. Just don’t tell anyone that I run it on my Mac in a Parallels virtual machine.   
Visio 2010 is dead?  Long Live version 2013!   
Visio 20123 Mind Map (Click to enlarge.)
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