Niraj Bhatt – Architect's Blog

Ruminations on .NET, Architecture & Design

Getting Started with Visio

I always knew the importance of Visio to sketch logical diagrams but never found time to explore it beyond a level. Since yesterday though, I have got to know quite a bit about it & I thought of sharing the same with you guys.

Hope you have opened Visio at this point of time. There are various shapes what are shipped with Visio & Visio allows you to create a drawing using it. Toolbar contains shortcut to create a new drawing & also there is a shortcut to access various shapes as shown below.


Visio also allows you to create a drawing with default set of shapes, though I don’t find that much useful. I prefer creating a new drawing & then selecting the shapes I want through the shortcut.

The extension for Visio files is .vsd. A single .vsd file can contain only one drawing, though a single drawing can have many pages. You can right click the first page as shown below to add new pages.


It’s also important to note that Visio allows you to open multiple drawings at the same time (like MDI interface). Visio groups related shapes together into an entity called – Stencil. You will find that over a period of time there are certain shapes that you tend to use often. You can group them for easy access by creating your own Stencil. There is one stencil available to you by default called – Favorites.


To add a shape to your Stencil just drag & drop it from other Stencils. By default stencils are in opened in read only mode. Hence you might see the following popup when you try to drag & drop shapes across Stencils. Click on – ‘Yes’.


You can also edit a Stencil, while a drawing is open, using Shapes window (you can search for shape using Search control there). All you need to do is click on Stencil Icon (Icon left to your Stencil name).


When you are in edit mode you can move the shapes across Stencils without any intervention. Once done click on the – ‘Save’ button to the right or one that appears in the menu. There are few shapes I frequently use, you can download them here. To download additional stencils you can visit this excellent site. If you are an UML guy definitely check this out.

There are various color themes Visio provides to you. You can get access to it as shown below.


There is also a feature called Layout Shapes in the Shapes menu & Spell check in Tools menu, you can check them if they are of your interest. Hope above would give you a good head start on Visio. Happy Drawing 🙂 .


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