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Visio’s new modern interface

The first time you open Visio you’ll see that it has a new look. The workspace is simpler, cleaner and designed to make sure your diagrams are the most noticeable and important part of the page. The changes go deeper than just the look, though, and this article will go over some of the most noteworthy improvements.

If you don’t yet have the Visio Preview, you can find instructions for getting the preview here so that you can try the changes in Visio out for yourself.

Updated visuals

If you compare Visio with previous versions, you’ll see that we’ve simplified the user interface and the colors of the workspace to make it easier to concentrate on your diagram. When you create a new diagram and drop in a few shapes, you can see how the diagram becomes the most noticeable thing on the screen.

Visio interface and ribbon

We’ve added subtle transitions for when you change pages, select groups of shapes, delete a shape, and others for common tasks in order to make the user interface more fluid and changes easier to follow. The transitions are optimized to be smooth and look good without slowing down your work and this has allowed us to improve the experience with layout tools.

New Guides

Layout guides are among the things that are improved. When you place new shapes on a diagram the guides fade in to help you align your shapes. The new transitions allow the guides to appear quickly enough to make them seem “always on” without them being in the way when you don’t need them. These guides will show you when shapes are spaced evenly and when shapes are aligned to a side or the center of adjacent shapes. These guides make it easy to line up shapes when you’re adding them or to realign shapes while you’re rearranging your diagram. We’ve also added a new set of sizing guides to make it easier to resize shapes accurately. Now you’ll never have to squint at a shape and wonder if it’s really the same size as another shape in your diagram.

alignment guides
New “floatie”

Select a shape and right-click and you’ll see the contextual menu and “floatie” – that little bar of controls that hovers above the context menu. We’ve updated the controls in the floatie to add many of the most common and useful commands. You’ll find the floatie makes many of your everyday tasks easier. You’ll also find that it’s easy to minimize the ribbon for more drawing space and the floatie still lets you use most editing and formatting commands quickly without needing to go to the ribbon. And if you’re using a touch-enabled device, you’ll see a floatie that is customized to make touch use easier.

We added controls to let you add shapes or text boxes directly from the floatie. The controls add a single shape so you can add a shape or connector with one click and be back to editing. Formatting text in a shape is easier, thanks to the new text position control that quickly lets you choose text alignment. The shape alignment tools are now on the floatie and the “Bring forward” and “Send Back” controls now have “Bring to front” and “Send to back” as dropdown controls. You’ll also notice an icon you may not have seen before. That’s Change Shape, a feature which lets you swap shapes quickly, that we’ll talk about in detail in a future post.

Visio floatie

One of the most powerful items on the floatie is the Styles button. It brings up a gallery that allows you to quickly format the look of the selected shape. These styles are all designed to look great with your diagram’s current theme.

Visio styles

The context menu is also streamlined to remove infrequently used commands and ones that are duplicated on the floatie in order to save space and simplify things. As a result using right-click gives you quick access to many of your most common commands without limiting your view of your diagram.

Adding shapes

We’ve made it easier for you to add shapes, too. The Auto-Connect arrows, which allow you to quickly add or connect shapes, have been updated to be more responsive. When you’ve been using them they show up quickly, but when you haven’t used them for a while, there is a delay before they pop up so they won’t get in your way. This lets you build up a connected diagram without ever moving your mouse away from your diagram.

Adding a shape

Adding stencils

The More Shapes option in the Shapes pane has been simplified to make it easier to add stencils to your diagram. Clicking on More shapes brings up the familiar menu, but now you can click on stencils to add them or remove them from the pane. You can quickly preview a stencil to see if it’s the one you want or add several stencils you need rapidly.

More shapes

In summary…

We couldn’t possibly list every improvement we’ve made to the user interface; these are just a few of the most noteworthy changes. We’ll be discussing many other new features and the new interfaces that go with them in future blog articles, so make sure to check back regularly.

As always, thanks for using Visio and reading our posts. Please take the time to post your comments or questions and let us know if there are future topics you’d like to see covered.

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8 comments
  1. looks like something nice to try.

    • Thanks, we’re glad you think so. Let us know what you think after you’ve had time to try it out.

      Tucker Hatfield, Visio Program Manager (MSFT)

  2. I need help logging in on visiopreview app on my I pad plz help

  3. The new Microsoft Visio 2013 interface looks awesome! Like Visio 2010 on steroids :-)

    Did the file format also change with the new version? Or, to be more precise, did you also update the VisioDocument VDX XML (is there a new namespace?)? I could not find information on MSDN yet. Do you have a documentation of the updated VDX somewhere?

    We have created a Plug-In for SDL Trados Studio, a solution to translate Microsoft Visio files into other languages for global deployment of your Visio based content. And of course we want to update our tool to support the latest Visio version as well.
    You can find more information about our tool here: http://www.tracom.de/software/de/visio/download/currentversion

      • Thanks, Stephanie! Good to hear that there are no changes in VDX. Actually in the old VDX the default namespace was the 2003 core ns, + the xmlns:vx fpr 2006 and xmlns:v14 for the 2010 extensions. It’s a little bit surprising that there is no namespace extension for the 2013 vdx. Maybe you can double check this?

        The news about VSDX is absolutely awesome! That’s what I was hoping for. Finally :-)

  4. Is there a means of disabling the clicking on more shapes, in my Visio application I would like my user only to be able to use the stencils provided by my application.

  5. A shame the tabs and backstage file tab have become all upper case, this is not very readable. Other than that it does look promising.

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