This month, the Microsoft newsgroups were closed, but there were no clear cut direction for continued support. Other than announcements of their closing, little effort appears to have been done to highlight the new forums as the place to go for Visio support.
In the place of the thirteen Visio newsgroups, Microsoft has provided three forums:
There is no clear cut definition as to which one to use, but it appears that they are for general user questions and not for Visio developers. On the Answers forum, the Visio questions are buried in a forum shared with other Office products. Compared to the newsgroups, the volume of traffic is way down. Whether that is due to people having a hard time finding the forums or that the forums do not appear to be as easy to use as the former newsgroups is hard to tell. With the old newsgroups, it was easy to see the new posts and what has been read.
There is also a Microsoft forum for VSTO for some of the Visio questions, http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/vsto/threads, but there does not appear to be a forum for developers using VBA or creating shapes.
Only time will tell whether the Microsoft replacement to the newsgroups will adequately support the Visio community.
So what other Q&A resources are available for Visio users?
- 1. Fellow MVP, Chris Roth, has an excellent forum at his Visio Guy website. http://www.visguy.com/vgforum/
- 2. Visimation did have forums, but they are now closed.
- 3. Tek-Tips have had a Visio forum for a while, but traffic is very low. To give you an idea of how low, I am the top poster and I only have ten votes. In other forums, the top poster has several thousand votes. http://www.tek-tips.com/threadminder.cfm?pid=172
Even though the adage is "A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words", sometimes it is useful to supplement a Visio drawing with text. For simple reports, Visio has a Reports feature that will produce tables of information, but occassionaly I want something more. For example, Visio does not have a feature to compare what is different between two drawings, so I have created a routine that will generate a very verbose Word document (think Print ShapeSheet on steroids) that contains minute details of the drawing(s) and then used Word's Compare Document feature to highlight the changes.
In the past I have written directly to the Word object model from Visio, but this tended to be painfully slow and would occassionally die (or be comatose). This was to be expected because the verbose Print ShapeSheet could end up being over two hundred pages long.
The next option was to just write a plain text file, but I missed the readability of having a formatted document, even if the formatting was just headers and page breaks. So I would intersperse the text with markers that would indicate the headers and where the page breaks belonged. I could then let Word open the text file and then run a macro to format the headers, add page breaks and remove extraneous lines. I did find that I needed to save the Word document before running the macro because running the macro against a raw text file was extremely slow.
At the first Microsoft Visio summit, my fellow MVP Chris Roth gave a demonstartion of how little XML code you needed to create a Visio drawing. I tried something similar with Word XML, but was never able to get an acceptable minimal set of XML tags. So creating an XML file that Word could consume was not a viable solution.
With Word 2007 and Excel 2007 came a new file format, a zipped directory of XML files. The OOXML format looked promising, but there were still way to many hoops to jump through to get a simple Word document.
Now with the release of the OOXML SDK 2.0, the actual creation of a Word docment is relatively simple. So if you need a way to create a Word document from Visio take a look at
How to: Create a Word Processing Document by Providing a Filename http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff478190.aspx