A few years ago Microsoft started talking about 'Model Based Programming' which would bring software development skills to the masses by making it easier to conceptualize program flows, decision paths and layout key functional areas while intuitively reflecting business processes. Visio 2010 is shining light on this important avant-garde vision. And it is doing it in a manner that seems so intuitive to regular folks that it is hard not to see the value.
Software developers and network admins were not the only users of Visio and as the Visio team looked at the other Personas, one can't help but deduce that the Visio team was among the first to see the power Model based design. In fact, one should have been able to predict that Visio would be the place where model based programming would first surface. I confess I didn't not see it. And so emerges another Microsoft product with ground breaking and important new features.
Still, I wonder if Microsoft understood Visio is the natural tool to put Model based programming in the hands of the masses. Looking around the help files, we can see that Visio can be used to create, import or export a Microsoft SharePoint Workflow, which is the engine which puts Model based programming into effect. Is it possible the team put these technologies together without understanding that they are the basis of Model Based programming? I believe, they understood perfectly well.
In fact if you look at the Visio Team blog, they talk about The Visio Graphics Service for SharePoint 2010. I recommend you spend some time on the blog since the Visio team is doing an exceptional job of laying out how this product is putting together a triple play of technologies that is sure to be a winner for business value.
A sample SharePoint / Visio mashup shows a Supply Chain Dashboard with real time data linked to the components of the supply chain.
So, the Visio team has shown how decisions are better informed by the data being represented graphically through SharePoint 2010 using the Visio Graphics Service, but I have yet to see how they have built in the functionality to empower people to act on that data. This of course would be the ability to launch a workflow through a right click on the diagram which would leverage an underlying security model to empower certain actions based on roles. Too much to ask? Maybe so. Still, for those who know Dynamics CRM offers this type of functionality, seeing information is only half the battle but empowering action is where the battle is won.
As we look toward how the technology will impact business, I believe the impact will be impressive. The tools exist to give businesses tremendous value and once again Microsoft Partners will be essential in helping companies leverage the technology to maximum effect. I look forward to spending more time working with the new version of Visio 2010, and team thanks for a job well done.
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