Charting the workflow: Office Visio 2003

Visio has long been the application of choice for business and technical professionals who produce flowcharts, organisation charts, time lines, network diagrams and the like. If you’re new to Visio, the Getting Started tutorial should have you constructing various charts — for example, block diagrams, workflow charts and project schedules — in no time.

As always, once you choose a chart type, Visio supplies the appropriate tools and shapes, so creating your chart is a matter of dragging and dropping (see here for a screenshot). The program keeps the right chart elements connected as you make changes, and a context-sensitive help box remains on screen in the upper-right corner.

In a handy improvement for workgroups, a review option helps you track who added which comments and chart elements. Also, if you want to use Visio to create a calendar detailing a project schedule, a wizard will quickly import your Outlook calendar. Like Microsoft’s other revamped Office applications, Visio 2003 uses XML. This enhancement enables you to integrate live data from company databases into your Visio diagrams, for example.

Visio continues to be the high-end product in its category, commanding a price of $371 for the standard version ($187 upgrade) and $926 for the Pro version, which adds tools for engineers and IT managers ($464 upgrade).

In brief: Office Visio 2003 Standard
Price: $371 (upgrade $187)
Vendor: Microsoft
Phone: 13 2058

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