Visio development

Getting the most value from Visio

"You rock! This Visio application is looking REALLY good."
- Joe Jones, Microsoft, Redmond, WA

While Visio is a valuable and productive tool out of the box, Visimation accomplishes even more by developing custom applications targeted to perform specific tasks, such as Visio drawing, at maximum efficiency. Our software applications are quite easy to learn, typically requiring less than an hour of training to become productive.

Two Approaches
Visimation utilizes two approaches to developing Visio drawing applications. The first approach uses Visio's rich set of drawing features and robust API (Application Programming Interface) to modify the familiar desktop product's interface and features. The second approach utilizes the Visio ActiveX Control to embed custom graphics tools into other software environments such as a Web browser*.

Visio desktop approach
The traditional Visio product is a standalone application that provides the familiar Visio user interface and features. We can customize it in several ways:
COM Addin
  • The application starts in the Visio process space whenever Visio is started
  • A new custom menu indicates that the application is running


  • Becomes more seamless with Visio
  • Lends itself to native use of Visio for other tasks
  • Simplest implementation of the desired feature set

(starting Visio based on user input)
  • The user starts what we refer to as a small bootstrap application
  • The user can enter data that will:
    • Tailor the work session prior to starting Visio
    • Create a new graphical model
    • Open an existing model
    • Update an XML datastore with data contained in the Visio model
    • Update a Visio model with new or refreshed data from an XML datastore


  • Maintains all or most of Visio's native feature set
  • Allows customization of Visio prior to starting Visio
  • May improve performance with very large Visio drawings
  • Provides the most amount of flexibility in customizing Visio

Visio COM addin started with a Bootstrap program. Note the custom menu that eliminates certain standard Visio items and added custom items. The custom user interface also includes a Visimation Stencil Navigator that enables a user to more easily find shapes from a large library.
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ActiveX Control (OCX) approach
The OCX programming control enables us to insert the Visio drawing engine within another software application such as a Visual Studio framework or a Web browser.
COM Addin
  • Enables us to create an application that "owns" its own process space
  • The Visio drawing surface will run within another application process
  • The outer framework is a .NET application


  • The user interface will be the most concise and directly targeted to the task
  • It limits user options and distractions by design
  • In certain cases, it is the best environment for importing XML and populating internal object models

Visio OCX customized for a simple furniture estimating application. In this case there are no traditional Visio stencils or menus. The user simply clicks a furniture symbol to add it to the drawing and bill of materials.
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*The Visio OCX requires that a license of Visio be present on the workstation of all users. For example, if there is a Visio drawing component in a Web browser, it will operate only if the end-user has Visio installed on their computer.
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