What's new in Visio 2010

This article contains a snapshot of what you can expect to see in the technical preview of Visio 2010. Some features are incomplete and are subject to change.

If you are used to working with Visio 2007, you will discover several new features in Microsoft Visio 2010, and you will notice that some familiar features have been updated. To help you get your bearings quickly, this article covers the major improvements and changes.

In this article:

It's Easier to Create Diagrams

It's Easier to Create Diagrams

Office Fluent interface, including the Ribbon

Visio 2010 now has the Microsoft Office Fluent interface, including the Ribbon. The Ribbon keeps the most often-used commands visible while you're working instead of hiding them under menus or toolbars. Also, commands that you may not have known about before are now easier to discover.

The Ribbon in Visio

Commands are located on tabs, grouped by how they are used. The Home tab has a lot of the commands that are used most often, and other tabs have commands that are used for special purposes. For example, to design and format your diagram, click the Design tab to find themes, page setup, backgrounds, borders, titles, and more.

The Design tab

Starting a new diagram

When you start Visio, you are presented with the New window in a new part of the Microsoft Office Fluent UI. The New window contains the templates you use to start a diagram.

Start a new diagram

Many of the commands that used to be on the File menu are now in this area. When you start a new diagram from any of the templates, this space closes and the drawing window opens. To get back to this area for saving your file, printing, publishing, setting Visio options, or other non-diagramming actions, click the Microsoft Backstage Button.

Microsoft Backstage button

Shapes window update, including Quick Shapes

The Shapes window shows all the stencils that are currently open in the document. Title bars for all the open stencils are at the top of the window. Click a title bar to see the shapes in that stencil.

Shapes window

The new Quick Shapes area at the top of every stencil (above the faint dividing line) is designed as a place for you to put the shapes you use most often. If you want to add or remove shapes, just drag the shapes you want into or out of the Quick Shapes area. In fact, you can rearrange the order of shapes anywhere in the stencil by dragging them where you want them.

If you have several stencils open and you know you only need a few shapes from each stencil, click the Quick Shapes tab to see the Quick Shapes from all open stencils together in one place.

Quick Shapes stencil

Finding more shapes

The More Shapes menu is now in the Shapes window, so you don’t have to leave the Shapes window to open a new stencil.

Browse more shapes from the Shapes Window

By default, the Search box is hidden to make more room for shapes and stencils. To open the Search box, click More Shapes, and then click Search for Shapes. Search for Shapes uses the Windows Search engine to find shapes on your computer, so you must have Windows Search turned on to use it. To search the Internet for shapes, click Find Shapes Online.

Search for shapes

Live Preview

Live Preview shows how formatting options, such as fonts and themes, will look before you commit to them. The style you point to is applied temporarily so you can quickly try several options.

Live preview of a theme in the gallery.

Auto Size

Auto Size replaces the printer-paper-sized visible page in the Visio drawing surface with an expandable page that eases the creation of larger diagrams. When Auto Size is turned on and you drop a shape outside the current page, the page extends to accommodate the larger diagram. Printer-paper divisions are shown by dotted lines.

The page automatically expands when you drop a shape

Insert and delete shapes with automatic adjustment

If you have already created a diagram but you need to add or remove shapes, Visio does connecting and repositioning for you. Insert a shape into a diagram by dropping it on a connector.

Drop a shape onto a connector.

The surrounding shapes automatically move to make room for the new shape, and a new connector is added to the sequence.

Drop a shape on a connector to automatically split the connector to include the shape

When you delete a shape that’s connected in a sequence, such as the middle shape above, the two connectors are automatically replaced by a single connector between the remaining shapes. In this case, though, the shapes do not move to close up the spacing, because that might not always be the right action. If you want to adjust the spacing, you can select the shapes and click Auto Align & Space.

Delete a shape and the connector rejoins itself.

Auto Align and Space

Make alignment and spacing adjustments to shapes by using the Auto Align & Space button. You can adjust all the shapes in a diagram at the same time, or select shapes if you want to specify which ones are adjusted.

  • To perform alignment and spacing adjustments, on the Home tab, click Auto Align & Space.

  • To perform alignment, spacing, or orientation adjustments separately, on the Home tab, click Position, and then click the command you want.

Auto-Align and Space button

AutoConnect enhancements

The AutoConnect feature makes it easier to connect shapes:

  • When you hold the pointer over a blue AutoConnect arrow, a mini toolbar appears that contains up to four shapes from the Quick Shapes area of the currently selected stencil.

  • If your shapes are already on the page, you can drag a connector from a blue AutoConnect arrow of one shape and drop it on another shape. By connecting shapes this way, you don’t need to switch to the Connector tool.

Point to a shape on the mini toolbar to see a live preview on the page, and click to add the shape, already connected.

Visio AutoConnect arrows and toolbar

Clarify the structure of diagrams


A container is a shape that visually contains other shapes on the page. Containers make it easier to see groups of shapes that are logically related to each other.

Get a container from the gallery to group related shapes.

Containers also manage the position of member shapes by moving, copying, or deleting the member shapes along with the container. To protect the shapes, you can lock the contents of a container so shapes cannot be deleted or added.

Membership group for containers

Containers can automatically expand themselves as you add shapes, and also reduce their size to fit the contents after you remove shapes.

Automatic Resize for containers

Some containers manage sets of shapes

Some containers help you manage ordered sets of unconnected shapes by making it easier to add, remove, and reorder the items in the list. Examples of such shapes include Tree Control in the Wireframe diagram, and Swimlane shapes in Flowchart and Cross Functional Flowchart diagrams. You can add the default member shape to this kind of container by clicking the blue insertion arrow that appears when you hold the pointer over a corner of the container.

Insert arrow for a list shape


Use callouts to explain or describe shapes in the diagram. Callouts are usually associated with a particular shape, and they move with the shape during manual and automatic adjustments.

Insert callouts from Callout gallery.

Data graphics legends

Legends explain what the icons and colors mean in diagrams that use data graphics, so your diagram is easily understandable even without text labels beside every data graphic.

Insert Legend button

Click the Insert Legend button, and Visio generates the legend automatically based on the data graphics that are on the page.

Data Legend showing the icons in a data graphic

Enhanced grid, alignment, and snap

New guides show when shapes are aligned and spaced evenly, and snapping points based on alignment and spacing help you position them in the right place.

Alignment and spacing guides

Paste copied shapes with greater control

Visio 2010 offers two options to help you paste shapes where you want them:

  • Paste shapes in the same location as the original page.

  • Right-click to paste at the pointer location.

Paste shapes in the same location as the original page

Paste button in the Clipboard group

When you copy one or more shapes from one page and then use the Paste button or CTRL+V to paste them in a different page, the shapes are pasted into the same relative location on the new page.

Right-click to paste at the pointer location

For greater control when pasting, right-click the page where you want the shape to be and then click Paste. The shape is pasted in the page with the center of the shape at the location you clicked.

Right-click to paste a copied shape at the click location.

Improved page tab functionality

A new Insert Page tab is available that adds a new page with one click.

The Insert Page tab at the bottom of the document.

In addition, you can get to the Page Setup options for a page directly from the page tab’s shortcut menu.

Page tab right-click menu.

Change your view by using the status bar navigation tools

The status bar contains tools to help you navigate diagrams and documents. The tools include Full Screen, Zoom Level that you can set by percentage, a Zoom slider, a Fit page to current window button, a button to open the Pan & Zoom window, and a button to Switch Windows.

Navigate a diagram by using the tools in the status bar

Visio Services

Visio Services integrates your diagram with SharePoint Web parts to create a high-fidelity, interactive experience for one person or many people at once, even if they don’t have Visio installed on their computers. Viewers can zoom and pan around the diagram, and follow hyperlinks in shapes.

You can publish a diagram directly to SharePoint from inside Visio 2010. Create the diagram in Visio, use Visio to publish it to the server, and view the diagram in a browser.

Diagrams can also be linked to data, and the view can be refreshed automatically or by the user to stay current.

Visio Services lets you view interactive diagrams in SharePoint

Process Management

In addition to all the diagramming improvements noted above, Visio contains new tools to help you model, validate, and reuse complex process diagrams.

Process diagrams are visualizations of any sort of step-by-step process. They are usually created as flowcharts, with shapes that represent steps in the process connected by arrows that show the direction to the next step.

Validate process diagrams

You can now analyze process diagrams automatically to make sure they're properly constructed and compliant with business logic that is defined for the document.

Check Diagram button

Validation errors are displayed for resolution in the Issues Window.

Issues window

Visio includes sets of rules that are specific to each type of process diagram.

Rules to Check list


Sub-process diagrams help you break up complex processes into manageable pieces. You can select a sequence of shapes:

Select the shapes in a subprocess

Click Create from Selection:

Create SubProcess from Selection button

Visio moves the selected shapes to a new page and replaces them with a Subprocess shape that is automatically linked to the new page.

The Subprocess shape represents a subprocess that is diagrammed on another page.

If you have not drawn the subprocess yet, you can click Create New to add a Subprocess shape to the page and also a new page that is linked to the shape. If the subprocess is already diagrammed on another page or in a different document, you can drop a Subprocess shape on the current page, click Link to Existing, and navigate to the subprocess page.

SharePoint workflows

Visio includes a template and shapes for designing workflows that can be imported into SharePoint Designer. You can also take workflow files that were created in SharePoint Designer and open them in Visio, which generates a diagram of the workflow that you can view and modify. You can pass a file back and forth between the two with no loss of data or functionality.

SharePoint Workflow template

SharePoint process repository

The process repository is a site template that is included with SharePoint. It provides a place to share and collaborate on process diagrams. The repository has built-in file access control and version control; users can view the process diagram simultaneously and edit the diagram without corrupting the original.

Process repository on SharePoint

New and Updated Diagram Types and Compatibility

Improved swimlane management in cross-functional flowcharts

Cross-functional flowchart diagrams use the new Container and List functionality to improve swimlane management, and support the concepts of phase and straddling shapes.

Cross Functional Flowchart template

Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) diagrams

Create flowcharts that follow the Business Process Modeling Notation 1.2 standard, and use the new validation tool to help find issues that you can correct before finishing the diagram.

BPMN Diagram template

Six Sigma diagrams

Create Six Sigma flowcharts and House of Quality diagrams.

Six Sigma diagram template

Wireframe diagrams

Wireframe diagrams contain medium-fidelity UI shapes for software application prototyping and design.

Wireframe diagram template

SharePoint Workflow diagrams

Diagram your workflow in Visio using the SharePoint template and shapes, and you can export it to SharePoint Designer to implement on your site.

SharePoint Workflow template

Updated AutoCAD compatibility

You can import, save, and work with CAD files from AutoCAD 2008.

Insert CAD Drawing button

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