Monday, July 16, 2012

SharePoint Workflow Basics(2) - Visio Services

The first chapter of this series explained the difference between a workflow and a process. This part will explain the main capabilities of Visio Services.

Quick facts

  • Renders Visio drawings in the browser as a webpart
  • It is a SharePoint Service Application
  • Unfortunately an enterprise feature
  • Visio needed for editing, but not for viewing
  • Enhance your diagrams with external data
  • Supports SharePoint versioning and publishing features

Service application

Visio Services is easy to configure, just add the new Visio Service application and select under which application pool to run.
Visio Services a SharePoint Service Application

There are only a view properties to configure. I think most of them are self explaining, so I would like to put your eye on the "Unattented Service Account".
Before you configure that, you have to configure the Secure Store, which is an other Service Application. There you specify which user and password to use for external data access.
If you are not planning to use external data, you could skip that, but keep in mind that this is a great feature to give life to your diagrams. That way you can give real time insights into your running processes.

Visio Services Settings

Visio Services Webpart

Now that we have configured our service application, we activate the "SharePoint Server Enterprise Site Collection features" on our site collection and the "SharePoint Server Enterprise Site features" feature on our site. This features will add the "Visio Web Access" webpart to our webpart collection.
We can add this webpart to any webpart zone. Like most other webparts it is configured using the webpart properties:
Webpart properties
I like to disabled Zoom and Pan, because I think that it might mess up the viewing experience.
Instead I use a script that perfectly fits zoom an pan. I will share that when I write about "Adding Visio Services Webpart to a page layout".

Next create a Visio Web Drawing (using Visio) and upload that to any document library.

Attention: You have to save it as "vdw" not "vsd"!

Afterwards enter the appropriate URL in the Web Drawing URL property of your Visio Services webpart properties and you are done. My webpart looks like this:

The Visio Services Webpart

Follow up

So much about the basics, but there is more you can do.
Using Visio Services in a page layout is a great feature. That way you can build e.g. a quality management portal on SharePoint.
I also like to display information from the production systems directly in the process diagram using the external data feature.

Approval process with live data

Furthermore we can do some basic programming with the Visio Services Javascript API.
The article "Visio Services relative links" describes how to use that.

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