The technical version of Visio includes 1,000 business-oriented SmartShapes and 2,000 for technical applications, including mechanical, petroleum, and software engineering symbols. A selective installation allows you to load the shapes you want. SmartShapes preserve the dimensional proportions of an object which would have been lost had the object been resized using its handles.
The underlying structure of each SmartShape resides in its ShapeSheet, a spreadsheet-like environment with the shape's attributes, including formulas. Any change in the ShapeSheet modifies the shape dynamically. The SmartShape technique can hide part of the shape and add customized text information.
Apart from the side menu and the central workspace, the menu structure is pretty much adaptable to the three major Windows working environments--Microsoft's Office, Corel's PerfectOffice, and Lotus's SmartSuite. The interface works both ways, and Visio can be loaded from the host application. The working environment is customizable, with the stencils you want loading every time you open a new Visio drawing. As for existing Visio drawings, the stencils you originally used are automatically loaded with the file.
Visio 4.5 includes Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), Word, and Excel. The VBA portion of a Visio document is the only built-in code you need to distribute with your application, without any external reference to Visual Basic per se.
Visio's technical version has tools for sketching; Boolean operations for union, intersection, or subtraction that can be used on any combination of symbols; and sketching primitives such as lines and B-splines. By using the glue tool, any dimension that is parametrically associated to a line or circle changes as you modify the geometry or position. The associativity is lost as soon as you modify the dimension text manually.
Shapes can be grouped to make a "super" symbol, and aligned or dynamically rotated. Almost all symbols include text blocks for annotation purposes.
Visio 4.5 is fully compatible with AutoCAD versions 7-12. AutoCAD version 13 can be imported as a metafile. Along with drawings, you can import AutoCAD symbol libraries and convert the symbols into SmartShapes.
There is a direct relation between AutoCAD and Visio Technical terminology. Like the imported symbols, entities in AutoCAD correspond to objects drawn with Visio's tools. Similarly, AutoCAD's attributes are translated into Visio as custom properties. A neat feature in Visio is the ability to append Visio's shapes into your AutoCAD drawings. Using a separate layer in an imported AutoCAD drawing, you can organize the additions made by Visio, then make them part of the drawing which can be saved back to AutoCAD.
The Database Connectivity Wizard, which links a Visio drawing or shape to an ODBC-compliant database, now has SQL Server and Oracle database connections. The connections are used to control the geometry of the shape from a parts list in a database. An interface program with OLE features controls the flow of information to and from Visio. By associating features of the shape from an external database, custom entities such as customer, price, or size information can be linked and become custom properties of that shape.
Visio supports most of the Windows graphics formats and imports Micrografx, CorelDraw, ABC Flowcharter, and CorelFlow drawings. For the Internet user, Visio exports in GIF, PNG, and JPEG formats to directly link your Visio documents to a web page or a URL.
Visio 4.5 Technical sets the stage for a direct interface between your Windows applications and Visio. The means: Smartshapes, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), OLE automation, and database connectivity. The range of possible applications is virtually endless.
Visio Technical 4.5
Visio Technical 4.5 is a non-CAD general-purpose drawing tool that interfaces with other Windows applications with an OLE tool to create technical illustrations with smart drawing tools. It includes thousands of shapes and stencils of commonly used objects in the business, engineering, and facilities-design disciplines. Minimum requirements: An 80486 PC with 8 Mbytes (Windows 3.1 & 95) or 12 Mbytes (Windows NT) of RAM, 32 Mbytes hard drive space, and a CD-ROM drive.
List Price: $299
520 Pike St., Suite 1800
Seattle, WA 98101
ph: (206) 521-4500
fax: (206) 521-4501
A similar product:
CorelFLOW 3.0--Corel Corp.
1600 Carling Ave.
Ottawa, Ontario K1Z 8R7, Canada
ph: (800) 772-6735