By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting
Tuesday, October 7, 2003; 3:00pm EST
Visio Professional fills the need for an all-in-one professional diagram application with its ability to do just about any diagram a business could need. Flowcharting, organization charts, floor plans, network infrastructures, and just about any other type of diagram can be made quickly and easily. Using its familiar Microsoft style interface and simple to use drag and drop pre-made icons, arrows, shapes and lines - just about anyone can produce professional looking diagrams.
There are so many situations these days, where a visualization of what you are proposing to a client speaks volumes. For example you are submitting a proposal to rebuild a web presence for a client and need to show them how it will be structured. With Visio Professional, within a short period of time you can build a very compelling chart that outlines how all of the web pages would be interlinked and how the site flowed. All you need to do is drag and drop the appropriate shapes from its "Conceptual Web Site" library of shapes, adjust their sizing if needed, drag lines between the shapes to create the web structure and you have a diagram! Then you can do finishing touches like adding text labels to the shapes, increasing or decreasing line sizes, modifying text or line colors - everything is customizable!
We were impressed by the number of shapes, icons and lines available in each of the many category based libraries. All of which are scalable to the size you desire and snap onto the diagram's "grid" for easy alignment. And since its object based, its very easy to move, remove, group and layout objects on the diagram. We were disappointed however, that the connecting lines and arrows between objects sometimes were prone to not straightening out properly unless "played around" with.
There were also a handful of "cool" and useful features that popped up here and there in the program. Web site mapping allows automated creation of web site diagrams, just tell it a web address and Visio will do all the work! Create standard or 3D driving direction maps using common items like roads, building, cards, trees and gas stations.
Installation of the program was pleasantly a non-event, taking a surprisingly short period of time and required very little interaction from the user. Minimum requirements for running Visio Professional are a Pentium 200MHz with anywhere from 40MB to 176MB of memory depending on the Windows operating system its running on and 170MB free hard drive space. We found the program on our text box (Pentium III 800MHz, 512MB memory and 20GB free space, running Windows XP) to be fast during diagram creation. But very sluggish when starting new diagrams or loading existing diagram files, with even simple diagrams taking quite some time to load.
Overall, we liked Visio Professional's ability to rapidly translate your ideas into concise diagrams to show anyone from fellow co-workers, to potential clients. It is a great addition to the Microsoft Office family of products, and its feature set and performance for the most part warranted the $499US price tag. A slightly less feature rich "Standard" version of the program is available, and retails for a more wallet friendly $199US. Upgrade and competitive product pricing is also available for both versions.
About The Author
Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca Consulting, a firm specializing in web site design, development and usability for businesses of all sizes. His many years in the technology industry has enabled him to write quality, in-depth product reviews to assist businesses make more informed technology purchases. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding his company's services, this review or interest in having your company's products reviewed.
http://www. viscaconsulting. com/