Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 2 months, you’ve probably heard of something Microsoft released back in July called the SharePoint 2013 preview. Having been busy for the past couple of weeks, I haven’t had the chance to play with its bits as much as I would have loved too. However, I did have a chance to review the new features of the Visio Services 2013 components. If you were to ask me what is my favorite SharePoint feature of all time, it’d have to be this. In all fairness, there hasn’t been any mind boggling changes in the 2013 version compared to the 2010 one. We now have a new file format for Visio diagrams, which allows user to view them in SharePoint directly which is nice. If you remember correctly, in 2010, we had to first save the visio diagram into a VDW file in order for it to be viewed on the web. This new file format eleminates the need to convert file before publishing them on our SharePoint sites.
Another nice feature they’ve added is the ability to add comments to a diagram and associated them with specific shapes (see picture below).
Shapes having comments associated with them will have the little dialog buble showing on their top right corner. Clicking on a shape that has associated comments will automatically highlight the comments in grey on the right-hand panel. Please note that this is only available when viewing the diagram in full screen mode. Comments won’t be enabled when viewing a diagram using the Visio Web Access web part.
Now, the coolest new addition to the 2013 version, in my mind, is the support for BCS. You can now connect your shapes to data contained in external lists. In previous versions, you could only connect to either a database or to a SharePoint list. Connecting to BCS allows you to do an hybrid of the two, and reflect data on your diagram that was either changed in the SharePoint interface or in the backend database by a 3rd party app.
I don’t believe we will be given any new toys to play with on the Visio services front when SharEPoint 2013 hits RTM, but I do expect a bunch of cool new opportunities to start appearing with the new Office app model….