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Lab Report -
Visio Standard 5.0 (June 1999)
A product review from the Windows NT Magazine laboratories by Michael P Deignan.

Contact: www.visio.com
System Requirements:
66MHz 486 processor, Windows NT, Windows 98,Win95,15MB of hard disk,16MB of RAM.

If you need a tool that draws detailed sketches and diagrams or if you spend many hours drawing organisation charts with Microsoft PowerPoint, then Visio is the solution for you. Visio Standard 5.0 is a drawing program on steroids. This program includes an extensive collection of shapes to build drawings, and can build flowcharts of business tasks, organisation charts, and Gantt-like project-timeline charts. The power of Visio doesn't stop with the stock software package. With add-on symbol libraries available through both Visio and third-party vendors, the types of diagrams you can build are endless. For instance, an insurance claims adjuster can invest in the accident-reconstruction symbol set, which contains symbols of common items insurance investigators need to accurately build a diagram of a car-accident scene.

Business Bonus Pack Features

An add-on from Visio, the Business Bonus Pack for Visio Standard, now ships with version 5.0. This add-on is a collection of features designed to empower small businesses. The Business Bonus Pack add-on contains new colour schemes and background designs for use on your diagrams. Fifteen different layout plans and prelinked shapes and styles give flair to otherwise dull organisation charts. The product lets you create cross-functional flowcharts to design and document processes that span multiple departments within your organisation. New simple timelines offer users the capability to create straight-line timelines, in which the system automatically calculates project milestones. Finally, the Business Bonus Pack add-on includes a tutorial designed to help users understand how to use the product in their everyday business environment.

One feature of the Business Bonus Pack add-on is the calendar, which lets you create visual layouts of project assignments. Icons, such as Star label, help indicate special days and build visual cues into the diagram. Although the calendar is not a substitute for a project timeline, it is useful for businesses that want to build diagrams based on dates, such as a cafeteria that needs to display a large list of specials.

In the past, creating organisation charts using Visio was time-consuming. Now, Visio Standard 5.0 with the Business Bonus Pack add-on offers a solution to create multi-page organisation charts quickly and easily. For example, when you create a new chart, the automatic layout feature instantly places any shapes you select on the page. The product provides nine different diagram symbols to drag onto the drawing to build your representation—Executive, Manager, Position, Consultant, Vacancy, Assistant, Team, MultiStaff, and Staff. Also, the product contains an Organisation Chart Wizard that aids in building the diagram and eliminates the need to manually build the drawing.

Installing and Using Business Bonus Pack

Installation of the product was seamless. I installed the product on my Windows NT Workstation 4.0 host. After launching the installation program, a series of prompts asked what components to install, my name, company name, and installation location. After I answered these questions, the installation proceeded uninterrupted. After the installation completed, I rebooted my computer. Using Visio Standard 5.0 with the Business Bonus Pack add-on is simple. When you select Business Bonus Pack from the New menu and six options appear, then click the symbol set you want to open.

After creating a calendar of my activities for early November, I opted to create an organisation chart of my business. I used the Wizard option from the New menu to create this chart. By answering a few simple questions, I built a full organisation chart available for printing. I then went into the drawing and made manual modifications to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the chart. The process was quick and easy.

This functionality is great and benefits the small-business NT user. Consider Visio Standard 5.0 with the Business Bonus Pack add-on a horizontal-market software application rather than a vertical-market application. From this perspective, the product builds upon features in NT Server and complements NT with a feature set that small-business users will find helpful.

Considering its feature set, Visio Standard 5.0's price is reasonable and will not bankrupt a small business. Visio Standard 5.0 includes the Business Bonus Pack add-on, and current Visio users can download the Business Bonus Pack add-on free from Visio's Web site.
Visio Standard 5.0 is a full-featured application that small businesses in many markets can use to empower their NT environments