We are going to start shipping Visio 2010 with all NEW purchases of versions of SI5.5  soon and as the resident Visio geek I thought our customers and readers would appreciate a heads up on some of the more exciting features and how these features will eventually make your job easier.  I say eventually because this is a pretty big upgrade and all like all upgrades there will be a learning curve, so don’t trip and dig in.

Also I am going to try and focus on the features that I think our customer base will benefit the most from.  So you will not be hearing much about Visio for Business Intelligence, Process Management or the Six Sigma Template (Jack Donaghy’s favorite) in this post.

So the most obvious enhancement to Visio 2010 is that it now sports the Microsoft Ribbon UI , finally achieving parity with the other MS office applications.  I have never been a fan of the Ribbon UI in the past, mainly because I don’t use that many MS Office apps and never really got used to it.  After using Visio 2010 for a few weeks I decided I really like the new UI and it is very customizable and flexible.

Visio 2010 now has a Wireframe template and number of well-done wireframe shapes.  At D-Tools we use wireframes to model our actual software concepts before writing any code.  Most of the shapes are set up for the standard Windows UI but I imagine with a couple of shape tweaks complex control UI’s could easily be modeled.  More info if interested in Visio wireframe modeling here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/visio/archive/2009/12/22/wireframe-shapes-in-visio-2010.aspx

Wireframe UI Shapes

Anyone reading this will really appreciate the new Dynamic Grid feature.  I have spent many-many-many extra clicks just getting objects in Visio to align with each other and keep the spaces between the objects even.  Now just by moving objects around in the Visio workspace you will get these orange alignment guides when you get close to other objects.  NICE!

Dynamic grid in action

Containers are an interesting new feature in Visio 2010 that allow you to put objects inside them move or delete all objects that are in that specific container.  We may extend and enhance this feature for SIx.

Ever run out of room on a drawing and then started having to move stuff around or change the scale?  Well the The Page Auto Size feature should make your life a bit easier.  Been there.

Page Auto Size UI

The Visio 2010 feature chart says “Improved Autodesk AutoCAD Capabilities” but I don’t know what that specifically means so I did some research.  According to the Visio Insights blog

While we made significant CAD improvements in Visio 2007, we did not provide support for newer AutoCAD file formats. This meant that Visio 2007 users required saving their CAD files in older formats in order to open them in Visio.  Now in Visio 2010, we’ve addressed this issue by adding the ability to read the latest AutoCAD file formats while providing the same CAD functionality as Visio 2007.”

I have not tested this statement yet, stay tuned.

Those are all the highlights of the latest Visio release as they relate to our readers and customers.  If I come across anything else major I will write another post.

Killer Visio 2010 Resources:

1.       Microsoft Office Visio 2010 Tips & Techniques Documentation by David Edson.  A must read

2.       Visio 2010 Toolbox.  This is the main Microsoft site for MS Visio.  <rant> I really hate the fact that Microsoft completely ignores the technical drawing market.  According to this website Visio is best used for Managing IT, Business Intelligence or Process Management, it has nothing about creating technical drawings.  I have no numbers to back this statement up but I bet the majority of Visio users worldwide use Visio for technical drawing not all the other stuff that MS has been promoting since they acquired the company in 2001.  Dear Microsoft, please show some love to the millions of people who use Visio for technical drawings.</rant>

3.       The LinkedIn Visio Enthusiasts group is a great resource.  Very professional, no off topic rants and flames because when you use LinkedIn there is no hiding who you are.   You need to have a LinkedIn account and be approved by the moderator of the group (not me).

4.       Visio 2010 Essential Video Training by Dave Edson hosted at Lynda.com  This is probably the best way to get up to speed on Visio 2010.  Great quality, fast and well laid out.  All you need is a subscription to Lynda.com and you can learn about Visio or thousands of other topics

5.       Visio Insights – The official blog of the Microsoft Visio product team.