|Advantages and disadvantages of creating workflows in Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Server Visio Services|
Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Server Visio Services enable users to view and interact with diagrams. Interaction means ability to refresh data linked with diagram elements, analysis of the data using dynamic data graphic indicators and viewing shape metadata taken from various data sources. Visio Services also allows visualizing workflow progress. Diagrams designed with Microsoft Visio are exported to Visio web drawings and rendered with Silverlight with a web browser. This means, end user does not have to have Microsoft Visio installed – the diagram can be explored on a web page.
Designing diagrams inside Visio can be grouped into two categories:
• One is where you design a diagram with objects that should interact with data from external data sources. Shapes are linked with data source records and can indicate different statuses with various visual indicators like streetlights or bars. Diagrams are visualized as designed by the Microsoft Visio user.
We will pick Microsoft SQL Server database as a general data source and connect to a server where data stored. Then we must pick previously created view and finish the connection creation process. Once it is created, we will see a new window with external data where query results from the view will be presented. Each row can be manually linked with a shape by drag and drop. There is also possibility to link shapes with data automatically. To do this shape has to have a unique name that can be used as a key with corresponding data in external data result set. We can add as many connections as required for the diagram, because some shapes can be covered by different data sources. Machines in network can use data from Active Directory and internet connection utilization will be delivered by the provider in a different way.
Shapes in our diagram are now connected to data from our database. Last thing we must do it to add a dynamic graphical indicator to visualize data in most attractive way. We must click a machine shape with linked data and once again use Data tab and click Data Graphics function and create new data graphic. In few clicks we should get a neat light indicator showing if a machine is online.
The same process must be applied to our ISP, but we must use different indicator – speedometer.
Last step in Microsoft Visio is to export the diagram to w VDW file. To do this, we must save the diagram as a Web Drawing. Once it is exported it must be uploaded to a SharePoint document library. For this we can use a site template named Visio Process Repository and a library Process Diagrams that is created in the site. Now we can click the diagram and it will be visualized in the web browser.
Using the diagrams is limited by various settings. It is good to know about some of them, as we might be surprised when for example we will try to refresh the diagram and nothing will happen. It is because of Minimum and Maximum Cache Age that defines times between which refresh is possible. Also you are able to define maximum web drawing size, timeout periods for operations inside diagrams. Those settings are global for the service and available through Central Administration.
SharePoint Visio Services with Microsoft Office Visio application gives us a powerful tool. Diagrams can be visualized by web browser using SharePoint Server Visio Services. Data can be presented in another, more attractive way. From the other side all that is presented is basically in read only mode. There are no modifications available, so anything you would like to modify, forces you to use the Office application. But most of all, it is another tool in your hand and if used wisely, it can bring profits to your company.