The purpose of Visio is twofold: to aid in the creation of plans, and to communicate this information effectively to others. To achieve this, Visio uses visual metaphors to represent concepts, but the way in which it does this makes it much more than just an illustration package.
Visio is based on a large library of shapes, which represent objects or processes, but these can also have properties that determine their nature and the way they interact with each other. The program is intelligent enough to know the functions of some shapes and respond automatically - for example, when laying out an office floor plan, the program knows the difference between a door and a window, and that the door requires space to open. Similarly, in an organisational chart, hierarchical and functional relationships between groups of workers are retained when moving them to a different department.
Visio 2002 is available in Standard and Professional versions. The Standard version can produce office layouts, project schedules, organisational charts and small maps. The Professional version has all the capabilities of Visio Standard, plus extended technical features such as the ability to produce computer network diagrams and process engineering plans. Visio Professional can also import and export building plans in popular Computer Aided Design formats, allowing quick and easy plans to be created and sent directly to architects. These plans can include such details as plumbing, lighting and air conditioning ducts.
The latest version of Visio is more closely integrated with Office than previous ones.There are also many minor improvements in this latest version, such as the ability to publish diagrams as Web pages, that make it a tempting upgrade for existing users.