Modern shapes in the new Visio: org chart, network, timeline, and more

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modern Visio network shapesVisio users tend to do one of two things after creating their diagramshare it or present it to others. Both of these scenarios require your diagram to look visually appealing. So, unsurprisingly, one piece of feedback users continually told us was that they wanted to make professional and modern looking diagrams.

While Visio is used for a wide variety of reasons-everything from organization charts, to timelines, to work flows and floor plans-the goal of being able to effectively communicate your information in a visual way rings true for everyone. We previously told you how to create professional diagrams quickly with the new Visio, which gave you an overview of all the changes we’ve made and covered a few of the most highly requested features.

This week, we’ll give you an overview of all of the changes we’ve made to Visio templates and shapeswhat we call “content”. Ultimately, when you combine the new Visio’s new features with new content, it’s easier than ever for you to produce professional and modern diagrams.


Goals for the new Visio and beyond

When we began designing new content for the new Visio 2013, we set the following three goals:

1. Great Looking Content: New content should be professional and modern. The goal was to create a timeless Visio style, by focusing on visuals that will look great now and look just as great in a decade. We recognize there is a tension, as making something too modern can sacrifice timelessness. Timelessness was the most important, so we prioritized content that will still look great in ten years over content that will look amazing now and dated in three years.

2. Fresh & Relevant: Visio’s content should look fresh and relevant. This goal covered both visuals and which shapes are available to you. We wanted to make sure that our stencils have the shapes that reflect what you want to diagram today (e.g. all the modern network management components in our server shapes). Moreover, we wanted to make sure that the content looks like you expect a modern instance of that shape to look (e.g. today’s typical smart phone looks very different now than it did 5 years ago).

3. Themes, Effects, & Quick Styles Support: The new themes, effects and quick styles needed to visibly affect and look great on our new content.

In total, 15 templates have been updated in the new Visio, along with brand new shapes, and all templates have been updated to take advantage of the new Visio’s fresh themes, quick styles, and effects. Below are a handful of templates we’d like to highlight for you today that represent some of the content investments we’ve made this release.


Organization Charts 

Visio Organization ChartOrganization Charts are one of the most popular diagram types in Visio, and as a result we made a big investment this release and created 10 brand new, unique Org Chart styles and over 60 new shapes.

So, what exactly are these new org chart styles? What sorts of benefits do they provide you in your diagram creation?

Org Chart styles are a brand new feature to the Org Chart template in the new Visio. The net result is that in a few clicks you can make org charts with incredibly varied styles that range from minimal to professional to hip to playful – whichever is appropriate for the personality of your team or organization.

Visio Organization Chart styles

Additionally, with the addition of automatic photo imports, we’ve made the use of pictures super easy as well.  

We’ll go into more detail on all of the specific Org Chart improvements in a future blog post, but for now just know that you can quickly and easily customize the entire look of your org chart in a single click by using the style gallery seen below.

Visio Organization Chart Coin style


Basic and Detailed Network

Visio Network shapes templateOur Network diagram templates (Basic Network and Detailed Network) were both updated with brand new shapes and modernized using Microsoft design principles. 

A whole host of new shapes should give network diagrammers greater flexibility in visualizing the modern network-with new shapes such as wireless access points, smart phones, video phones, VOIP phones, tablets, and data centers.

Another goal was to modernize and bring greater clarity to the role of each network shape, while preserving their basic iconography that is globally recognized and generally accepted as standard by the networking industry.

For example, you’ll notice on some of the new server shapes you see below, the most important semantic details of the shapes are now more visually prominent (e.g. the envelope on the Mail Server shape). This ultimately makes it easier to read large, complex diagrams where you may have a bunch of the same type of shape, such a servers.

Modern Visio network diagram

Don’t worry, though, the classic 3D network and workflow shapes were so popular and iconic that we couldn’t take them out.   So, you can still find them by searching or browsing through the template categories. Just look for the template with “3D” at the end of its title to find the classic version.



Visio timeline templateTimelines have been refreshed to take full advantage of all the new themes, effects, and quick styles that the new Visio has to offer.

New right-click menu options allow you to quickly and easily change timeline types, interim markings, and arrowheads. The result is timelines that are both professional and easy to read.

Just like Org Charts, we’ll go into more detail on all of the specific Timeline improvements in a future blog post.

modern Visio timeline diagram


SharePoint 2013 Workflows

Visio SharePoint 2013 Workflow templateWe created a brand new template and shapes to support SharePoint 2013 Workflows, and in the process visually revamped existing shapes to increase clarity, understanding, and recognition of the identifying icons that are attached to each shape.

In addition, with support for .Net 4.0 workflows, we added the concepts of Loops, Stages, and Steps which group together a set of actions and conditions into singular entities-similar to the existing Container feature that you may already be familiar with in Visio.

You can also now use the Visio editing interface from within SharePoint Designer to visually create, edit or add workflow parameters to your workflow and publish it to a SharePoint site.

We’ll go into more detail on all of the specific SharePoint Workflow improvements in a future blog post.

modern Visio SharePoint 2013 Workflow diagram


UML and Database

Visio UML templateThe UML and Database diagrams have been expanded to a total of 9 templates that support many diagram types. Not only are these diagrams simpler and easier to build a diagram with, but the new shapes and formatting options make them look great as well.

We’ve chosen to move away from a restrictive dialog-driven approach, towards a template-driven approach. This provides you greater flexibility based on the diagram type you’re trying to create by allowing you to quickly construct and edit the diagram directly on the drawing canvas.

Just like Org Chart, Timeline and SharePoint Workflow, we’ll go into more detail on all of the specific UML and Database improvements in future blog posts. modern Visio State Machine UML diagrammodern Visio database diagram

Here is the full list of the diagram types we have for UML and Database diagrams in the new Visio:

  • UML Activity Diagram
  • UML Sequence Diagram
  • UML State Diagram
  • UML Static Structure Diagram
  • UML Case Diagram
  • UML Database Notation
  • IDEF1X Database Notation
  • Crow’s Foot Database Notation
  • Chen’s Database Notation


BPMN 2.0

Visio BPMN 2.0 templateWe’ve updated the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) template to let you create diagrams based on the 2.0 standard. With the built-in validation rules you can ensure that your diagrams comply with BPMN specifications.

Of course, you’ll also be able to continue to open and update your BPMN 1.2 diagrams as well.

Visio BPMN 2.0 diagram



Visio Workflow templateThere’s also a new version of the Workflow diagram that shares the modern look. Like the network shapes, you’ll find they can add flavor to other diagrams.

Don’t worry, though, the classic 3D network and workflow shapes were so popular and iconic that we couldn’t take them out. So, you can still find them by searching or browsing through the template categories. Just look for the template with “3D” at the end of its title to find the classic version.

modern Visio Workflow shapes


Basic Diagram

Visio Basic diagram templateThe Basic Diagram template is a great toolkit to start a generic diagram or to use in an existing one, and we’ve updated it to give you a wider variety of attractive and useful shapes.

You’ll be able to use the new Basic Diagram shapes to make quick drawings or add them to other diagrams to help illustrate your information.

We’ve added lots of new shapes, including decorative shapes, arrow shapes, graph and math shapes.

modern Visio Basic Diagram shapes


In Summary

We can’t wait for you to start creating your own modern diagrams with the new Visio. Combined with all of our new themes, effects, and quick styles, this is the best set of Visio content we’ve ever produced.

To begin creating your own modern diagrams and experiencing all of the new content the new Visio has to offer, simply launch Visio and either search or browse for the template you want.

Once you’ve had a chance to explore, let us know which refreshed template or shapes you enjoy the most in the comments below.

  1. jmVisioMVP

    For a while the other Office products, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher had the ability to insert shapes that were NOT in Visio. The scrolls for example. These missing shapes are now in the Basic Diagram collection.

  2. cool.
    I have a question about visio 2010 shapes windows, my visio 2010 shapes windos missing, i can not find . i click Task Panes (Shapes), no Luck.
    could you help me to solve problem. i did search from google there are no luck.

    • Stephanie Horn User">

      Hi Michael,

      I’m sorry that clicking on the Task Panes button on the View tab does not work for you. Do you see the Shapes selection toggling on and off as you select it on the drop down? This window can be undocked so it may be "hiding" wherever it was displayed last.

      This would be a good question for the Visio Answers Forum since we can have more of a dialog there about the problem:

      Stephanie Horn, Visio Program Manager (MSFT)

  3. Great news. Excellent job on updating visual style of UML diagrams, however, are you going to support UML 2.0?

    • Ian Mikutel User">

      Hi Mario,

      Glad to hear you like the modern shapes! The new Visio will support UML 2.4 and we’ll have more info on everything you need to know about UML in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned.

      Ian Mikutel, Visio Program Manager (MSFT)

  4. I downloaded Visio 2013 Preview and it looks great. UML diagrams were updated, but there are missing diagrams (component, deployment). What are the plants to incorporate all UML diagrams?

  5. Simon Jones

    Why have you removed the ability to create an Entity Relationship Diagram from an existing database? That was a very useful feature allowing you to arrange, colour and annotate ERDs of Access or SQL Server databases.

  6. Please provide a basic organization chart template that does not require pictures. If no pictures are available, ALL of the new templates look bad. 🙁

    • Ian Mikutel User">

      Hi Gene,

      The new Visio’s Org Chart template never requires you to have pictures if you don’t want them.

      If you’re importing data via the Org Chart wizard, there’s a step that lets you remove "Photo" as a Displayed and Shape Data field if importing from a Microsoft Exchange Server, or if your data is from a text, Org Plus (*.txt) or Excel file there’s an option to "Don’t include pictures in my organization chart". Additionally, if you’re manually creating your org chart by drag and drop, you can hit Ctrl + A or drag to select all your shapes on the page and either hit "Delete" or "Show/Hide" from the Org Chart picture chunk in the ribbon.

      Hope this helps!



    I have many BPMN (v1.2) created in Visio 2010. Opening them in Visio 2013 and running validation against BPMN v2.0 is resulting in an error on every task "This BPMN 1.2 Task shape is no longer valid and should be replaced with a BPMN 2.0 task." I’ve hunted for some sort of BPMN 1.2=>2.0 conversion utility without success. Is it really Microsoft’s intention that each v1.2 diagram created in Vision 2010 has to be MANUALLY changed to validate against the 2.0 rule set? If yes, this is monstrous task.

    • Visio Team

      Hi Joe,

      There are a couple of points you bring up in your comment.

      (1) BPMN 1.2 versus BPMN 2.0: There are changes in the standards with regards to the Task shape. If you are just using the plain Task shape, there’s no problem, but you may actually want the new BPMN 2.0 Task shape with the additional properties if you are building more complex diagrams.

      (2) Turning off a rule: If this change to the standard are not important to you, you can turn off this rule. When you see the issue in the Issues window, simply right-click the issue and pick "Ignore Rule".

      (3) Use Change Shape: You can select all the Task shapes and use Change Shape to update them to the BPMN 2.0 task shapes. This will work well if you haven’t filled out the BPMN 1.2 properties on the shapes: since the properties have changed between the versions of the standards, you’ll lose the 1.2 properties on your shapes.

      Change shape is explained in more detail in this post:

      Hope this helps!

      Stephanie Horn, Visio Program Manager


        Stephanie, a thousand "thanks" for your reply…I wasn’t looking forward to the amount of work that was staring me in the face. Your comment was extremely helpful. A few comments:

        1. The link you sent sends me to a "Dang, the page has moved" page. Could you please verify and repost?

        2. It would be more than great if BPMN 1.2=>2.0 [potential] issues would be documented in Visio Help. I didn’t see anything there addressing my issue and your subsequent response. Other things seem to be missing as well…for example, a search on "Parallel Gateway" returned no results. Just doesn’t seem to be much Help devoted to BPMN…

        3. Tied to the comment above, is it my imagination or are there less BPMN stencils available in 2013 vs. 2010?

        If I’m off, please set me straight. Thanks. Joe


        I’m sorry Stephanie, one more thing to address please… I have a Visio 2013 "file" containing multiple "diagrams" – i.e pages/tabs. Some of the diagrams are BPMN 1.2 and some are BPMN 2.0. One of the diagrams/pages/tabs is in the forefront…I’m working on it. When I click "Check Diagram" and select an appropriate ruleset for the diagram being worked on and run the "checker", it checks/validates every diagram/page/tab in the file instead of the single diagram/page/tab I’m working on. Please tell me how I can limit the "Check Diagram" to only specific diagrams and not every diagram in the file. (Don’t forget, an ERM Visio file may contains loads of ERM-specific diagrams/pages/tabs.)

        Thanks again. Joe

        • Visio Team

          Hi Joe,

          For more information about Change Shape, check out our blog article titled "10 ways to be more efficient in the new Visio" that was posted on September 25th. For whatever reason, the hyperlink I posted above looks correct, but adds extra characters when copied and pasted as a URL.

          We also have a new post out today on titled "Introducing BPMN 2.0 in Visio" that might help answer some of your questions (such as how to find the parallel gateway shape).

          Thanks for your feedback about Visio help. I will investigate potential articles on BPMN. There is a training video “Achieve BPM excellence with Visio 2013 and BPMN 2.0” that you may find interesting. It can be found easily via web search.

          For your “Check diagram” question, we validate all the pages at once. You can sort by page to see only the issues that interest you on a particular page. You can bulk select all the issues that appear on pages with non-applicable diagram types, and select “Ignore This Issue” from the right-mouse menu.

          Stephanie Horn, Visio Program Manager

  8. How do I change the network diagram shapes back to the old shapes? I find that if I copy & paste the old objects into the new 2013 it auto-formats. Can I change this back?


    • Ian Mikutel User">

      Hi Ross,

      You can do a search on the Visio Start screen for "network" and you’ll see both "Basic Network Diagram – 3D" and "Detailed Network Diagram – 3D", both of which contain the old network shapes in their stencils for you to use.

      Ian Mikutel, Visio Program Manager

  9. truekonrads

    What a pity that UML component diagram stencils are gone! Please bring them back!

  10. jrCranstonRI

    Wow! I only downloaded and installed Visio 2013 as a trial to check out the UML 2.x support. Two diagram types that I use the most as an architect are gone: deployment and component. What’s up with that?

Comments are closed.