Introduction to Diagramming with Microsoft Visio

Who are the players?

I’ll be using Visio 2002 Professional to create these examples, so let’s place the flavours of Visio in market context.

Visio 2002 Standard – business types, e.g. HR, sales and marketing

Visio 2002 Professional – tech types, e.g. developers, engineers, and other IT positions

Visio 2002 Enterprise Network Tools (bolt-on to Professional) – higher level IT pros who need to analyze and document networks (import and diagram Active Directory, anyone?), databases (now with SQL Server 2000 support), etc., at a much deeper level than Visio Professional

Some of the sexiest stuff is in Enterprise Network Tools, and I’m hoping to get a copy of that in the near future to write about. It’s changed a lot in appearance since version 2000. If it comes down to it, you’ll see examples from version 2000 as appropriate.

What happened to Visio 2002 Technical? It’s been incorporated into Professional, so you bean counters can now yell “woo-hoo!” really loudly. All the mechanical, electrical, gardening, facilities planning, and other wonderful things you’ve come to love are now bundled together with Windows user interfaces, mind mapping, and web site diagramming.

Let’s go to work


Installation of Visio is quick, easy, and looks just like everything else in Office XP. And you know, of course, never to just accept the default installation, right? Always choose custom, so you know what you’re getting. In particular, gentle reader, you wouldn’t want to be ripped off, now would you? No, I didn’t think so. The default installation doesn’t include the Developer Reference, which means the ShapeSheet and Automation reference components would be “lost” to you. They may not matter now, but they sure will later. So click Custom, accept the location defaults (if appropriate) then eventually, you’ll come to the customize the actual program components.

Click the arrow next to Developer Reference and choose Run from My Computer. (Better yet, select the drop-down at the very top of the tree and select Run all from My Computer for a complete install.) My complete installation took 195 Mb.

Your first Visio diagram

Once you’ve completed the installation, start Visio by choosing Start -> Programs -> Microsoft Visio. The first run gives Visio the opportunity to find out what it has to offer you by updating its directory cache. It’ll take less than a minute.

The first thing you see is the Choose Drawing Type dialog, fresh and unspoiled. Savour its Zen-like state. (I like the look of this much more than earlier versions.) Once you’ve started working with Visio, it tries to help you by remembering the last thing you’ve used, so it’s unlikely you’ll see it so, well, empty ever again.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.