The latest incarnation of Visio, the 2d –object drawing application of the Microsoft Office Suite, has been unveiled. At this stage it is in prerelease format entitled Visio 2013 Preview. This coincides with the beta Release of Microsoft Office 2013.

Those familiar with Vision 2010 will see immediately, it has a new look. Where once the diagrams you created could tend to get lost, the workspace has been redesigned and reformatted to make the diagrams stand out from the simpler cleaner looking page.a

Vision 2013 Preview brings a simplified user interface and updated visuals with better coloring to minimize distraction from your diagrams.  There is plenty of ‘white space’ around your diagram, really making it the key feature of the page. The transition between pages, selections of groups of shapes, deletions and other common tasks have also been given a greater subtlety over previous versions, giving an improved fluidity and making work faster.

A number of new layout tools have been added as well as existing one updated.  Improved layout guides make it easier to add shapes, particularly when adding new ones into an existing diagram. Alignment has also been made easier as the new guides will indicate if you have lined shapes up evenly.  A new set of sizing guides has been added making resizing shapes more accurate.

Another new feature of Visio 2013 is the ‘floatie’. This is a tool bar of controls that only appears after selecting a shape and using right-click. The floating tool bar contains the most useful and common commands used in everyday tasks. Acting as a toggle, the floatie is simply clicked off to maximize your drawing space, but still giving access to all the editing and formatting commands used most often,  without having to access the tools from the ribbon.

Other additions to the floatie include controls to add text boxes or shapes. Again the transition between adding shapes, connecting and editing has been made smoother, as has text formatting and alignment. Shape alignment commands are included on the floatie as is a new function called change shape that allows quick selection of a change of shape. The styles button, also on the floatie will surely prove to be one of the most useful updates. The floatie has been kept streamline by only containing the most often used commands, and the functions on the floatie are not duplicated elsewhere.

Another improvement shows up in the Auto-Connect arrows which are used when adding shapes. They have been made more responsive and connected diagrams can be produced without having to move your mouse away from the diagram. Further enhancements to improve diagram production include simplification of the More Shapes option which makes adding stencils easier.

This was just a quick overview of the major improvements of Visio 2013 Preview. Regular users will find plenty of new features for them to explore.

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