Tonight I presented some bits & pieces about Microsoft Visio – and integration with SharePoint. Visio is often the forgotten child of Microsoft Office – with Word, Excel and Outlook getting all the glory.
Visio is extremely powerful, for flow-charting, diagramming – and even designing workflows, using a plug-in for K2.
There were three specific topics covered :
Link Data To Shapes – SharePoint list
Use as data source for creating “live” diagrams – rich metadata
As with most of the Office suite, it’s fairly easy to use a SharePoint library as a source of data. The example I showed tonight included the following :
- Create a new document library for project documentation (eg. a dev project)
- Add column for DevelopmentPhase, and DocumentOrder – corresponding to some Word documents, with those properties added.
- Upload the documents, and verify the metadata was included :
Open Microsoft Visio 2007 :
- Create a new diagram
- Click Data > Link Data To Shape
- Choose Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) list
- Enter the URL of the SharePoint site collection
- Choose the list for the source of data
- Click Next, and then Finish to load the list of documents into Visio
Next up, you can select a shape – and drag an item onto the canvas.
This will include all metadata for the list-item, which can be shown in a variety of ways.
To see the variety of “shape data” that you can pull into Visio as metadata
- Right-click on the shape
- Click “Data”
- Select “Shape Data”
And – here’s a list of metadata items from ONE list item :
The next step I showed was “Save As Web Page”, which has a nice interface automatically generated for you :
K2 Designer for Visio
Design workflows for SharePoint using K2[blackpearl]
For those that have developed workflows for SharePoint, there are some options :
- Out-of-the-box workflows
- SharePoint Designer workflows
- Windows Workflow, using Visual Studio (aka Rocket Science)
The alternative is to use a BPM product such as K2. This has a number of workflow designers, including Visual Studio, AJAX “in SharePoint” designer – and the Visio designer.
During tonight’s demo, I used Microsoft Visio to show how to add a workflow to a Document Library in SharePoint – and using “forms generation” to display data to a user.
The workflow created had the following functionality :
- It Manager review document – to approve or decline
- Architect review document – to approve, decline, or select “review again -> IT Manager”
- If approved by both, create a listitem in the “Announcements” list
This includes the following “technical” aspects :
- Active Directory integration for user accounts
- Microsoft Exchange integration for sending email
- SharePoint integration for metadata
- SharePoint integration for creating listem (announcement)
- Dynamic generation of ASP.NET form for user interaction (client event)
- …all of the above was completed without any code.
And – all from within Microsoft Visio – a tool that lots of developers and business users will be familiar with.
The K2 integration includes a lot of “wizards” – and point-and-click interfaces, allowing for the user to convert a simple picture into a workflow.
The workflow can be compiled & deployed from within Microsoft Visio – and with some permissions set for users – can be up and running immediately.
The workflow can then be opened from within Microsoft Visual Studio – and extended by a developer – such as integration to other back-end systems.
For more information about K2 + Visio – click
SharePoint Task List within Visio
Flowchart view of tasks lists within SharePoint
Within a “Tasks” library in SharePoint, there is an additional option to Create Visio Diagram, which allows for some great slicing and dicing of tasks.
Following on from the initial demo, the user is able to update the Shape graphic, and change what’s shown – as well as filter/group based on the data from SharePoint.
For example – to change the “count” to a graphic :
- Right-click on the shape
- Click Data – and then Edit Data Graphic
- Select the item you want to change (eg. Count)
- Click Edit Item
- Change the type for Callout
Click OK to save the change – and will be updated in the Visio diagram.
It’s best to have a fiddle about with this – there are some great features hidden away – including being able to flag certain fields/values using colours – based on metadata from the SharePoint list.
This also works with an “Issues” list – it’s almost a kind of mini-BI function – from within Visio. That’s cool, eh ?
In some ways, you can think of VIsio as
- UI layer – with SharePoint as “data layer”
- UI layer – with K2 as the “business layer”
Please feel free to contact me to discuss some of the presentation if you have questions or comments.